BROSSARD -- If there’s one thing that can be said about Canadiens’ rookie P.K. Subban
, it’s that he’s no stranger to pressure. In fact, he thrives on it.
After making his debut in the NHL with an attention-grabbing performance in the Habs’ miraculous playoff run of 2009-10, it would seem only fitting that it was Subban who potted the overtime winner in Tuesday’s game to propel his team back into the second season for the fourth consecutive year.
“It got pretty loud last night,” grinned Subban when the subject of his overtime goal was mentioned. “We have the best fans in the world. It’s such an amazing experience to win in that building and we’re lucky to get to play there more than any other team in the league.”
“I always try my best to focus on every shift I play,” added the 21-year-old who over the course of his rookie season was never one to shy away from his mistakes or admit he still had a lot of learning to do.
“There have been ups and downs over the course of my season, but I’ve just had to learn to roll with them and I’ve been lucky enough to have great support all the way from my teammates and from the coaching staff.”
Canadiens head-coach Jacques Martin was also on hand following his team’s Wednesday morning skate, with some praise for the rookie blueliner’s development over the 2010-11 season.
“After losing Josh, we took P.K. who was primarily an offensively minded defenseman and asked him to make the focus of his game defense first,” explained Martin.
“We paired him with Gill at that time and he really answered the call. Those two have consistently been able to play against the opposition’s top lines and in that time he’s also become a key member of our power-play as well as our penalty-kill. There’s definitely been a major progression for P.K. as much with his skills on the ice as with his maturity and the way he carries himself. He had a great mentor in Hal to help influence him.”
Recognized all season as a major factor in his defensive partner’s development, Gill was quick to point out that regardless of age or experience, both players were able to learn from each other.
“We’re both constantly learning from each other. We’ve also gotten a lot better at know what the other guy’s going to do. He has the tendency to be a little more aggressive, which allows us to complement each other well, and when we do that, we play our best hockey,” said Gill who will soon be embarking on the ninth playoff run of his career.
“In the playoffs, you get pushed to your limits in every game you play. You can always guarantee that it’s going to be a challenge and we felt that same sense of urgency in last night’s game. It really makes for the best hockey.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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