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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
B's must find a way to contain Subban

By Joe McDonald


BROSSARD, Quebec -- P.K. Subban has been the Montreal Canadiens' difference-maker against the Boston Bruins in this second-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

The 24-year-old defenseman has been spectacular, a beast in every aspect of the game. Subban has three goals and three assists for six points in the first three games versus Boston. Overall this postseason, he has three goals and eight assists for 11 points in seven games, including a plus-1 rating.

The Bruins have attempted to get Subban off his game with little luck.

"He's a good player," Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said. "He's a real talented offensive player with a lot of speed. He plays with a lot of emotion and he's playing well right now. With all good players, it's an in-your-face type of game and that's our game. Whether it's him or whether it's Sidney Crosby, a good player, you can't make it easy on him. [Subban's] been a big part of their offense so far and it's something we need to be aware of."

Brad Marchand
Brad Marchand and the Bruins are struggling to slow down P.K. Subban.
Subban scored a pair of goals to help Montreal to a 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 1 against Boston. He then had two assists in Game 2, which the Bruins won 5-3. In Game 3, he scored a big breakaway goal as the Canadiens won 4-2.

Not only has he chipped in offensively, Subban has been strong in the defensive end, too.

"He's doing a good job creating space for himself," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "Even sometimes when you put pucks in his corner and try to finish him, he's getting on his horse and getting back as quickly as possible. They do a really good job of getting in lanes when we're on the forecheck, making you go around them to create that extra half second. Tip your hat to him because he's playing a great series right now. Do we need to get on him quicker? Yeah, we do. He's been unbelievable."

Bell Centre is electric when Subban has the puck on his stick or is about to run an opponent into the boards. In Game 3, Subban received a two-minute roughing penalty after he hammered Reilly Smith in the neutral zone.

When the penalty expired, Subban jumped out of the box, received a pass and scored on a breakaway to give Montreal a 2-0 lead in the first period. The Canadiens feed off his energy and that's one reason Montreal has a 2-1 series lead.

"He's playing great for us right now," Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher said. "It's exciting. That's what we expect from him and he's certainly delivering. He's one of our best players and we expect him to show up and he's done that in the playoffs so far. He's a game-changer. For him to play with the emotion and keep those emotions in check has been big for him. He's just giving us a lot of energy right now. You see how much he's enjoying it, so it's a lot of fun to be a part of."

As loud as the fans in Montreal cheer for Subban, it's the opposite in Boston. Bruins fans boo him every time he touches the puck. He did a solid job of silencing those fans in Boston at the start of the series.

"It's a lot of fun. It's fun for us to see him take over the game, and he has been so far this series," Montreal's Daniel Briere said. "He's making big plays at big times. For us, we're trying to ride that wave. We have a few guys who have made big plays so far in the playoffs and that's the only way you'll keep moving, especially playing good teams like the Boston Bruins."

In what Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask described as a "veteran move," Subban knocked the Montreal net off its moorings as the Bruins were surging with an extra attacker in the closing seconds of Game 3. Had the referee called a penalty, the Bruins would have received a penalty shot.

After the Bruins' optional practice Wednesday at Bell Sports Complex, coach Claude Julien did not want to blame the loss on Subban's net nudge.

"This is all stuff that we can't control," Julien said. "Referees make those calls and you move forward. I'm going to be honest with you, if we rely on the referees to give us the breaks then we certainly don't have our focus in the right place. We need to make our own breaks. We have to look at ourselves and say, 'Listen, did we play well enough yesterday to win that game?' We didn't. So we can look at all this little stuff on the side and it's something that we don't control and complain about it, that's not what we do. We have to be honest here and tell ourselves we need to be better."

For the Bruins to improve, they need to minimize Subban's impact on this series, or it could be the last one in Boston's season.