Monday, March 11, 2013
Habs in Florida-Home for Southern Fans
P. K. Subban
Just in case you didn’t know, P. K. Subban is always in a hurry. Not a lot of dust settles on the man. And as we have seen in the past little while, he is keeping busy on the ice with the Montreal Canadiens.
The former Belleville Bull arrived a little late for the season. He is neither the first player to arrive late, nor will he be the last. It is simply, perhaps unfortunately, part of the negotiating process. Then began all of the rumours of disention among the ranks with his teammates. There was also a bit of furor about his relationship with the coaching staff.
As I expected, he signed the papers to play this season, took the ice and began to do his job. And now, half way through the season, with his team in first place, there are plenty of smiles in Montreal. There will always be an enigmatic side to P. K. Subban. But when the puck reaches his stick, on the blue line, in a power play opportunity, all critics are silenced. Many of us can hear Danny Gallivan categorizing the shot as a “cannonating drive”.
His slap shot is one of the hardest in the league, and results in additional scoring when it is stopped. On Sunday night, he recorded two assists from the point. Both came from well placed wrist shots which were tipped into the net. A Habs official note, “Nice to see his wrist shot used. He almost had a third assist that way”.
For his part, Subban was thrilled with the win. The Canadiens are heading home after a successful stint in Florida. In fact, they have won 8 of eleven games on the road this year. Check that out with Doug Van Vlack if you don’t believe me! On his way to a “team dinner” Subban told me that “It felt really good to get those two points. I’m happy to see the guys come through. We showed great character on this road trip”. The three assists in the game give him 18 points in the 20 games he has played this year.
As he proceeded away from me, down the hall, I chirped at him about scoring on his brother as a future Bruin. “I look forward to it,” he laughed as he flew by.
Shawn Matthias continued his strong play for the Panthers, although he does not suffer losing lightly. He was visibly upset when the microphones were poked in front of his nose in the locker room. “I’ve been through this before. It’s not fun. We are all sick of losing. It’s very frustrating. We knew that they had been on the road for several games, and that they were ripe for the picking. But we just could not take advantage of that.”
The Habs got on the board quickly, and added two more goals in the second period to take a commanding lead. Eight minutes into the third period, Francis Bouillon ripped a loose puck into his own net to put the Panthers on the board. Matthias added another on a fine wrist shot from his wing. Alas. Too little. Too late. The Habs added another on a power play to seal the deal.
Hab Fans in fort Lauderdale
Matthias knew that the arena was full of Habs fans, as is always the case in South East Florida. They gather along the Atlantic coast, and anxiously await their opportunities to cheer for their beloved “Bleu, blanc et rouge”. “It’s always better for us if we score early. In this game, we didn’t do anything to silence the Habs fans,” Matthias noted.
Matthias netted his seventh goal of the season, and continued a streak of four games with at least a point a game. He averages almost fifteen minutes of ice per game, killing penalties, causing havoc in the crease on power plays, getting the job done.
With the season more than half gone, the Panthers need a strong push to get into the playoffs, to avoid an early summer.
March 1, 2013