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Canadiens' Therrien praises Subban's defensive game

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the second time in three days Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien offered effusive praise when talking about P.K. Subban's defensive play.

That's news, because not more than a few weeks ago Therrien was reluctant to use Subban late in close games because he didn't seem to trust his defensive play.

"Big time," Therrien said when asked if Subban's defensive play is a reason why the Canadiens have been one of the NHL's best defensive teams of late, yielding two or fewer goals in 11 straight games. "I would say to you big time.

"He's still a threat offensively. He's still a threat on the power play. We give him different responsibilities defensively playing against good players around the League and he's shown a lot of leadership the way he's preparing himself and approaching the game. Definitely defensively he's been really, really, really good."

Subban is plus-8 with a goal and nine assists in 13 games since he was a minus-3 in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 2. The Canadiens are 8-2-3 in those games, including 6-0-1 in the past seven.

Heading into the Canadiens' game against teh New Jersey Devils on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS), Subban has played at least 23 minutes in 12 straight games, including seven games in which he played more than 25 minutes and three of more than 27 minutes.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Tuesday the executives selecting the Canadian Olympic team aren't sold on Subban yet, but the 24-year-old doesn't seem too worried about it because he's comfortable with how he's playing.

"I've never had to justify my game to anybody," Subban said. "I just go out there and do my job. I let my play do the talking. It's part of the game; it's part of professional sports. There's people that's their job to critique your game and give their opinion, but it's not my job to give my opinion on anything. It's my job to just go out and do my job. That's all I'm going to do, just keep playing and let my play do the talking.

"Our team is letting our play do the speaking for ourselves as well. A lot of people had stuff to say about us early in the season. I think we've done a good job of sticking together and from the coaching staff down to the players we've all done a great job of putting together a good string of hockey games here. We're going to have to continue to work hard to make sure that continues throughout the season."

Forward Rene Bourque did not make the trip to New Jersey because of an upper-body injury he sustained Monday against the Devils. Brandon Prust will move up to the third line to play with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller while Ryan White will come into the lineup in a fourth-line role with Travis Moen and Michael Bournival.

Francis Bouillon is expected to play after sitting out the past two games. Peter Budaj will get the start in goal.

Here is the expected lineup for the Canadiens on Wednesday:

Daniel Briere - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brandon Prust

Michael Bournival - Ryan White - Travis Moen

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin - Josh Gorges

Francis Bouillon - Raphael Diaz

Peter Budaj

Carey Price

Scratched: George Parros, Douglas Murray

Injured: Rene Bourque (upper body)


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