Last season, the Boston Bruins wanted to give goaltender Malcolm Subban a look. The Bruins 2012 first round draft pick had looked good in the AHL, and they thought he should get a start in the middle of a Bruins road trip. The Bruins could have put him in against the slumping Edmonton Oilers, but for some reason chose to put him in against the St. Louis Blues (at the time the second most offensive team in the league).
Subban looked good in the first period. He stopped all three shots on goal, and the Bruins were playing respectable two-way hockey. In the second period, everything changed. The Bruins fell into defensive lapses and were giving the Blues the time and space to put up quality chances. Subban bent under the pressure and gave up the next three shots on goal. Subban was pulled for Tuukka Rask, and the Bruins went on to lose. Subban’s record for that game was a 5.81 goals against average and a .500% save percentage.
A year later, the Bruins and Subban are hoping for better results. Subban has done a respectable job for the Providence Bruins this season. He’s gone 14-8-4 with a 2.45 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. While the numbers aren’t thrilling, the Bruins do need to see where the 22-year old netminder is in regards to his ability to play NHL hockey.
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“I’m happy to be here,” told Subban to Comcast New England. “So I’m just looking to make the most of my opportunity right now. Obviously I feel like I’ve matured a lot just with my play, and on and off the ice. Just being a better professional and focusing on the little things in my game. I feel like I’ve taken a huge step forward in my play from last year.”
If you’ve watched Subban play in Providence, he has a Tim Thomas style of goaltending. He’s everywhere in the crease. He’s not afraid of leaving it to make a play, and his frantic playing style have made some big saves for the AHL Bruins. Now Subban is playing a more professional and conservative style of hockey, thanks to the mentoring of Bruins goaltending coach (and one time Bruins emergency call up player) Bob Essensa.
“The style I used to play before was more of an inconsistent style,” said Subban of his work in the net. “Goalie Bob[Essensa] loved the style that I used to play, but he’s trying to incorporate a lot of techniques in my game that will make me a better goaltender. It’s being a little calmer in the net and letting the puck come to me, and not jumping around as much. It certainly helps a lot more in practice because it’s not as tiring.”
The Bruins have an opportunity to gauge Subban’s readiness against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They should play him tonight. The Bruins will need to know what kind of progress he’s made, and they’ll need to know what kind of value he has if the Bruins choose a trade route with him.