Is P. K. Subban a quick study?
That question provides a key to whether Subban will be in the lineup this weekend when the Canadiens play afternoon games against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.
Coach Michel Therrien hasn't ruled out using Subban, but said the 23-year-old needs some schooling to learn the new system Therrien has introduced this season.
The smart money says Subban will play because the Canadiens need him. But that will require a cram course because Friday will mark the first time in nearly 11 months that he has shared the ice with his teammates. He missed the Canadiens' abbreviated training camp while he was negotiating a new contract. He agreed to terms on Monday, joined the team in Ottawa in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and spent an hour on the ice during an optional morning skate on Wednesday. He was also on the ice in Brossard Thursday with strength coach Pierre Allard and Max Pacioretty, who is recovering from an appendectomy.
The team had a day off Thursday and that means Subban will have to show what he can do Friday because the afternoon games don't allow for morning skates.
The good news is that Therrien's system is suited to Subban's skillset. It's based on an aggressive forecheck and, if the first six games are an indication, Therrien has no problem with his defencemen pinching in.
While Therrien will be reluctant to mess with the chemistry Andrei Markov and Rafael Diaz have displayed on the first power-play unit, Subban would be an upgrade on Tomas Kaberle on the second unit. He would also provide some help on the penalty-kill, which ranks 19th in the NHL with a success rate of 78.1 per cent.
Subban needs crash course in Therrien's system
Montreal Gazette | Feb 2