The Bruins might have their hands full tonight at the Bell Centre if Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban is in the lineup and starting to feel like himself again.
The dynamicrookie was recently a healthy scratch — like Tyler Seguin was for the Bruins Wednesday in Buffalo — but has continued to struggle in three games since his return from his three-game hiatus. For a player that requires flash and dash to combine with his natural talents to make him successful, confidence is like gasoline to a car.
There’s a chance, Subban might be running on empty in that department. As Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette wrote after the Canadiens’ loss to Toronto Saturday:
“I’m not going to beat myself up,” Subban said after the Canadiens dropped a 3-1 decision to the Maple Leafs.
But that’s exactly what the usually confident Subban did on a night when he was on the ice for all the Toronto goals.
“It’s been a tough two nights,” said Subban who returned to the lineup Friday night in Detroit after sitting out three games as a healthy scratch. “It’s been tough just to make a pass. I have to feel confident making that pass out of our zone. Right now, it’s just not happening.”
Subban said he wasn’t going to use his enforced absence as an excuse, but he did just that when he said he couldn’t expect to come back at the same level.
Things didn’t get any better last night for Subban, who committed one of two of the Habs’ major giveaways that led to goals in a loss to Philadelphia. In the long run, those healthy scratches might benefit Subban and the Habs, but right now they’re hurting both the player and the team.
It’s the same situation the Bruins are now in with Seguin. Determining the right balance between how much “learning time” he should spend in the press box and how much his confidence is being deteriorated will be one of the stiffest tests for head coach Claude Julien and his staff going forward. If you re-insert Seguin and he makes too many mistakes, do you banish him to the press box the next game? Or do you let him learn by trial by fire, which seemed like the initial plan when the Bruins decided to retain Seguin’s services rather exercise their option to return him to juniors for a year. It’ll be interesting to see how it all pans out.
As for Subban, maybe thinking back to November, when he was an early favorite to win the Calder Trophy and burned the Bruins for his first NHL goal would help him get back on track.