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Bulldogs report - Dec. 9, 2009

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL - Seeing the red light illuminate behind Bulldogs' goaltenders has been a rare sight for adversaries of Guy Boucher's troops so far this season. Over the course of the team's first 25 games, the bulb at the Hamilton end has been lit on a mere 55 occasions, the third-best total in the American Hockey League.

Apart from stellar goaltending, most notably from Cedrick Desjardins, who registered consecutive shutouts one week ago, the Bulldogs’ efficient defensive corps has helped keep the team’s goals against as stingy as possible. Budding prospect P.K. Subban has certainly made his presence felt.

“At the start of the year, we had a lot of offensive-minded defensemen. We’ve worked hard at instilling the importance of working hard in both ends of the ice and get them focusing on that aspect of their games as well,” explained Bulldogs head coach Guy Boucher.

After a rather timid start to his season, Subban has rediscovered his offensive touch over the past eight games. Since November 8, the 20-year-old defenseman has racked up five goals and three assists for a total of eight points. Subban now has five goals, nine assists and 14 points on the campaign.

“Instead of concentrating on what he’s going to do offensively, he’s started looking more at the other 89% of his job on the ice that isn’t about offense,” confirmed Boucher. “He’s making plays a lot quicker now. Some players are quarterbacks and others are runningbacks; P.K. is more of a runningback, but he’s adapting and picking his spots better to make flashier plays.”

While the Toronto native’s defensive work had often come under the microscope in the past, he's alleviated those concerns by posting a solid plus-9 so far this year.

“I think some people see P.K. as a risk taker, but anyone coming to watch him play now will be really impressed with his play in his own zone. We’re proud of him, and he’s also proud of himself,” added the Hamilton bench boss.

Much like his teammates in Montreal, Subban must have been inspired by events surrounding the Canadiens’ Centennial on December 4th, as he promptly went about notching two goals, including an empty netter, against the Toronto Marlies. Subban’s first of the night was a highlight-reel marker, driving to the net with an opponent on his back, shedding him as he cut towards the slot and unleashing a wrister that caught the Marlies' goalie offguard.

Subban was a dominant offensive-defenseman back in Junior with the Belleville Bulls. His OHL time was spent fruitfully, as he accumulated 191 points in 234 games, peaking with a 14 goal, 62 assist performance good for 76 points in 56 games last season. Subban's stellar numbers were rounded out with a staggering plus-76.

With both feet firmly planted on the ground, Subban is in the process of fulfilling his promise as a future NHL quarterback to the great delight of his coaches and teammates.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for Translated by Robert Lefebvre.

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