Leave it to wise old Pat Hickey (@zababes1 on Twitter) to predict that in the aftermath of Therrien-Subban (Chapter 6?) in Denver the best player on the ice in the Habs next game would be P.K. Subban. “I think he’ll be great” said Pat on TSN690 prior to the game. He also said he fully expects Subban and Therrien to be back next season to continue what might be the most continuous contentious coach-star player relationship in pro sports since Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant.
I can see the Kobe comparison.
- P.K. Subban. Should we have expected anything less? Over 30:00 of ice time and dominant at both ends of the ice. His play in 3 on 3 OT should have resulted in a win if only one of his key teammates had the ability to finish. Subban revelled in the extra attention. His assists on both Montreal goals gave him 41 for the season. Only three players (Erik Karlsson, Patrick Kane and Evgeny Kuznetsov) have more. But Subban saved his best performance on the ice for after the game when he chatted with Marc Denis of RDS.
- Max Pacioretty. Scored just his second goal in 13 games, his first on the power play since January 17 vs Chicago. It set the stage for the shootout victory, which included Pacioretty himself saving the game when he beat Michael Neuvirth high glove. The Montreal captain has now scored on 60% of his shootout attempts (3 for 5) this season, not bad for a guy who as recently as two years ago wanted no part of the shootout. And his post game comments (“P.K. was probably the best player on the ice tonight”) might have made up for his lack of emotion following his game tying goal off a direct pass from Subban when he barely acknowledged his higher profile teammate. And while we’re it – for the uptight, anal retentive types who don’t even like the cap that Subban wears for TV interviews (as if there aren’t enough CH’s visible during interviews from the Habs room) – where’s the faux outrage over Pacioretty wearing a “Breakers” cap for TV cameras following the morning skate on Friday? (The Breakers is a hotel for the wealthy in Palm Beach, Florida. I once tried to check-in after closing time during spring training many years ago. Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen can confirm this. We were forced instead to take a taxi back to our slum on Singer Island.)
- Mike Condon. Rebounded from an awful first goal he allowed when Nick Cousins beat him with a floater from the left boards just 10 seconds after the Habs had opened the scoring. It set his team back on their heels until the Pacioretty game-tyer. But he got better as the game went along and was nothing less than spectacular late in the third period and in overtime.
- Paul Byron. Shootout winner was a carbon copy of Pacioretty’s goal – high glove. Who knew Byron had this touch?
- Andrei Markov. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Markov as happy on the ice as he was when the game ended. Watch the post game celebration again as the Habs surrounded Condon while Subban led the way-as he always does-jumping up and down on his skates. To the right of the pack there was Markov picking up on his defense partner’s cue. It was quite the site to to see the 36 year old Markov celebrating like a kid. Subban’s positive energy is contagious. It’s too bad some of his teammates resist it.
- Dale Weise. Strong bounce back effort following a bad road trip. His fluke goal from behind the net was his 14th goal this season. He should be in high demand by the 29th, if not already. He also helped set up the Pacioretty goal. By the end of the game he was moved up to play RW alongside Pacioretty and Lars Eller.
- Jacob de la Rose. Habs look better with De la Rose in the middle.
- Tom Gilbert. Was playing well before he left the ice with some kind of injury to his leg.
- Greg Pateryn. Steady. Almost ready to replace Gilbert.
- Michel Therrien. Who else had Byron winning the shootout? With 48 seconds left in the third period Subban iced the puck to force a face off deep in Montreal territory. It also forced Therrien to use his time out. Angry at himself for putting too much on his clearing attempt and his team in trouble, Subban smacked his stick on the ice in frustration before heading to the bench where Therrien was waiting, not filled with anger but with a message any lip reader could make out – “It’s alright”. Solid messaging. One game too late.
- The game. A Friday night snooze fest until late in the third period.
- Torrey Mitchell. Has gone seven games without a shot on goal. He’s become Manny Malhotra Right.
- Lucas Lessio. I expected more from Lessio in his first career game as a Hab at the Bell Centre. Maybe it was nerves. Or maybe he was spooked by Radko Gudas.
- Tomas Plekanec. Bad penalty in the second period when he pushed Cousins into the Flyers net for no apparent reason. Horrendous giveaway in the middle of the ice in his own zone when his cute back pass was delivered to the wrong team. Michael Raffl eventually scored after a beauty of a set up by defenseman Shayne Gostisbhere who extended his point scoring streak to 14 games. Plekanec had a chance to make up for his mistakes in overtime when Subban set him up for what looked like the game winning goal but Plekanec couldn’t finish into an open net to the right of Neuvirth. This was the Plekanec we saw during his 30 game stretch of nothingness. We were all wondering the same thing – if Raffl’s goal held up as the game winner would Therrien single out the popular veteran for a “selfish” play.
- “Selfish Subban”. To all those who took the opportunity to go beyond the debate of whether or not Subban should have attempted to carry the puck into the Colorado zone instead of using the clock as a barometer and make the “safe” play by merely dumping it in (and handing over possession), you must be from another time and place, when young star athletes just nodded their heads, when self-expression was some form of weakness and when supreme confidence could only by carried by the heavyweight champion of the world (but only after paying a heavy price). Life, in many ways, has passed you by. If you’re not an old fart and you don’t like Subban and it has nothing to do with his nine million a year salary (uh huh) and you believed this afforded Marc Bergevin the perfect opportunity to do rid himself of a “problem” in the room then I suspect you have no clue what the definition of “winner” is. There might be a problem or two in the Montreal room (none bigger than the fact that Carey Price is not in it) but it’s not a guy who wants the puck when the game is on the line.
- Journal de Montreal. A headline bemoaning the loss by Montreal in Denver without a single francophone on the team was actually followed up by something worse. Here’s the English translation (thanks to Eric Engels) of what columnist Rejean Tremblay wrote in Friday’s paper: The campaign started by Bob Gainey, Pierre Gauthier and Trevor Timmins to eradicate the frogs saw its final solution. Francophones – there were none playing for the team in this loss. Yep, that’s Bob Gainey, Gauthier, Timmins and, by extension, Marc Bergevin as Hockey Nazis. Now please excuse me while I use that page to wipe my ass.