BROSSARD – P.K. Subban wasted little time owning up to a potentially costly mistake on Thursday.
Addressing the media at the Bell Sports Complex for the first time since being assessed a slashing major and a game misconduct in Game 1 on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre, the veteran rearguard was particularly contrite in reference to the incident involving Senators forward Mark Stone.
“The ref made the right call. When you see a player down on the ice rolling around like that, there’s one call to be made. He made the right call. If I was in that position, I’d probably do the same thing,” admitted Subban, who was ejected at the 8:23 mark of the second period after laying a two-handed slash across Stone’s right wrist as the right-winger attempted to establish body position in front of the Canadiens’ goal. “I paid the price for taking that penalty. The right decisions were made on the ice. Obviously, I don’t want to be out five minutes and I don’t want to be out of the game. But, when a player is hurt like that, that’s what happens.”
While the Senators lit the lamp twice on the ensuing power play, Michel Therrien’s troops still found a way to secure an all-important series-opening win on home ice. While the Norris Trophy winner was clearly pleased with the way things ultimately played out for the CH in Game 1, he was disappointed in his inability to stay true to a game plan that stressed the need to stay out of the penalty box.
“The unfortunate thing about [Wednesday night’s game] is that we, as a team, talked about discipline. I took a penalty in Game 1, and as an assistant captain and a leader on this team, I have to set a better example than that. That’s probably the most unfortunate thing for me. I feel like I let my teammates down when I took that penalty,” explained Subban, who amassed two assists on Wednesday night despite logging just over nine minutes of ice time before being given the gate. “This is playoff hockey. I compete hard every game. I’ve never threatened anybody out there. I don’t think I would. First of all, I’m not really the toughest guy without my gloves on. I’m not really going out there looking for fights or anything like that. I just try to play the game hard between whistles.”
Following the incident, Stone went on to play six more minutes in Game 1. It was revealed on Thursday, however, that the Winnipeg native had suffered a microfracture and was playing hurt. His status for the remainder of the series remains unknown. Despite Stone’s injury, the League elected not to penalize Subban further. The major penalty was punishment enough.
That being said, it would appear that the series already boasts its fair share of interesting storylines heading into Game 2 on Friday night. In his post-game press conference on Wednesday, Cameron suggested that if the NHL wasn’t prepared to suspend Subban for his slash, his players would simply take matters into their own hands and accept major penalties in return. The Senators’ bench boss changed his tune somewhat following Thursday’s practice session, but it remains to be seen how Ottawa will go about their business when the series resumes in Montreal.
“It didn’t take long to get this series going the last time, too. It’s playoff hockey. It’s the Ottawa-Montreal rivalry. It’s alive and well and it has been for years,” offered Brandon Prust, referencing a series-opener that saw the two teams combine for 84 hits and 63 penalty minutes between them, including three misconducts at the end of regulation time. “I hope they do retaliate. We can get some power plays out of it. We worry about ourselves in here. We don’t really worry about what they say or what they want to do. If they want to retaliate, they can.”
That mindset really is the product of past playoff experience. Having been involved in contentious series like these before – including last season’s heavyweight battle against the Boston Bruins in Round 2 – the Canadiens are well-equipped to handle teams keen on mixing things up in the physicality department.
“Last series against [the Senators], we let our emotions get to us and we got frustrated. Last year against Boston, we kind of watched them let their emotions get the best of them and we ended up winning the series. I think we’ve grown as a team,” stressed Prust, who collected the primary assist on Brian Flynn’s game-winning tally in Game 1, in addition to registering four shots on goal and a plus-1 differential. “You’ve got to keep a cool head. You don’t want to get too frustrated. You want to just stay with your game plan and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. That’s when you can take some dumb penalties. We’ve just got to stay focused on our game plan and stick to our task and our mission.”
It’s safe to say Therrien isn’t going to accept anything less with so much on the line in Game 2.
“We learned a lot from the playoffs last season. We handled our emotions well. During Wednesday’s game, we just weren’t disciplined enough,” mentioned Therrien. “That can’t happen again. The only thing we’re focusing on right now is Friday’s game.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words From The Room - April 16
The Last Word: Sir Patrick Stewart