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Physical play, offensive ability hallmarks for Subban

by Adam Kimelman /
P.K. Subban generally is known as one of the most entertaining offensive-minded defensemen to enter the League in quite a while.

But Subban knows that to play the game the right way, he has to be responsible over all 200 feet of ice -- it was defensive mistakes that earned him a temporary spot in the press box earlier this month.

Much is expected of Subban, but he's still just 21 years old and 30 games into his first NHL season. However, that full-ice game can be seen in spurts, including a great example Dec. 15 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

On the game's first shift, he threw a seismic body check on Flyers forward Daniel Carcillo, and was smart enough to skate away when Carcillo tried to goad him into a fight.

Late in the second period, he started the Canadiens' comeback attempt when he bombed a shot past Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to get Montreal within a goal heading into the third period.

And in the third, he started the play that led to Brian Gionta's game-tying goal.

It wasn't all perfect for Subban, as he also was a minus-2 with three giveaways.

"If it wasn't for my goal and assist, that would be a very bad game," Subban told reporters following the game. "I hung my partner out to dry too many times."

Most rookie defensemen are going to have those kinds of moments, but Subban is doing what he can to learn from those situations and improve.

He spent three games as a healthy scratch, and has been feeling his way back into things since his return. In five games back, he has just the 2 points he picked up in the Flyers game, but he's been more willing to throw his body around, with nine hits. His 49 hits this season are fifth on the team.

No one can question Subban's physical gifts. Right now, however, it's about him finding a way to use his dazzling offensive wizardry in the confines of the Canadiens' team game.

"In the past few games, it's been tough for me to play a full 60 minutes and today I was happy I didn't hurt my team," Subban told the Montreal Gazette following Thursday's game against the Bruins. "To be honest with you, the support from my teammates has been unbelievable. I remember I was coming off one time and I was angry and Hal (Gill) goes to me and says, '60 minutes, keep playing, do the little things.' That helps."
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