P.K. Subban is having a heckuva playoffs so far for the Montreal Canadiens and he didn’t slow down in Game Three against the Boston Bruins. Doubtless a polarizing player, Pernell Karl’s full personality was on display all night, especially during a roughly two minute stretch in the first period that begin with a missed hit on Reilly Smith.
Subban tried to stop Smith by introducing the Bruins winger to his backside when Smith was coming through the neutral zone. At the last moment Smith noticed Subban and was able to cut away from the full wrath of the defenceman’s attempted bodycheck – Thomas Vanek was not so lucky as he took the brunt of the hit that Smith dodged – but Subban got his elbow up enough that the referee sent Subban to the box for two minutes, max. Subban went to the box, expressly located the provided refreshments for guests of the bin and harshly deposited them to the ground. If he had debated with the referee more eloquently he would not have had any more luck so why not take out his frustration with the call on the water bottle.
Montreal killed off the penalty, and when Subban reentered play on the far side of the neutral zone Lars Eller was heading up ice and drawing the Bruins defenders toward him just enough that he was able to hit a wide open and streaking Subban with a pass at the Bruins blueline. The Bell Centre crowd was already buzzing from the successful penalty kill, and when Subban seamlessly received the Eller pass the volume went up a notch. Racing toward Rask – whom is the front runner for the Vezina trophy as this year’s best goaltender – Subban excellently faked a wrist shot, or maybe more accurately he started a wrist shot but halfway through decided to refrain from completing it when he saw Rask go down anticipating the follow through. Subban then took a step to his right and deposited the puck behind the outstretched Rask, not quite lanky or flexible enough to make up for the amount of net he gave up to Subban after buying the wrister he thought Subban was selling. The cameraman did his best to keep a stable feed for the viewers amidst the Bell Centre faithful’s elation. Subban scurried to his right, and punctuated a celebratory slide across the ice on one knee with a fist pump before being congratulated by his teammates. He’s often chided for such exuberance, but I defy anyone who would tell me they would control their emotions any better than the Canadiens defenceman did in such a palpable environment.
The goal would be a thing of beauty if it had been scored against the Phoenix Coyotes in September. But the sequence of events leading up to it – a sequence that showed us every part of the personality of the most polarizing Canadien – and that it was scored against the archrival Bruins in May made it an instant classic.