Malcolm Subban getting back on Bruins' prospect radar


Malcolm Subban getting back on Bruins' prospect radar

BOSTON – Malcolm Subban needed a strong training camp performance in order to get himself back on the radar as an NHL prospect for the Bruins and the former first-round pick has accomplished that this month. In what may be his final appearance of the preseason, the 23-year-old Subban stopped 24 of the 26 shots and made 14 saves in the third period to lead the Bruins to a 4-2 win over a not-ready-for-prime-time Chicago Blackhawks lineup Monday night at TD Garden.

Subban was at his best in the third period protecting a slim Bruins lead and showing off some of the athletic skills that have always made him an intriguing prospect if the technique can ever catch to the natural talent. Afterward, it was pretty clear that Subban was laser-focused headed into the B’s final home game of the preseason and perhaps sending a message that nobody should forget about him after a couple of disastrous Boston appearances already on his NHL resume.

It certainly was a feel-good moment when he stuffed a series of chances for the Blackhawks, including a full extension kick-save stop on Erik Gustafsson and a couple of good reaction stops on Brandon Saad while scrambling around the front of his crease. Then Subban heard some love from the Bruins fans that saw him get pulled from his only Boston appearance last season and have watched him veer dangerously close to the “bust” category entering his fifth pro season.

 “Obviously it felt really good to hear the fans and stuff. But I just try to stay focused and dialed in," Subban said. "Obviously, it’s kind of hard sometimes. But I just try to stay focused like I said, stay dialed in and get the win and finish strong. I’m just trying to play my game and work hard. Hopefully, everybody sees that.”

The decision with Subban isn’t exactly an easy one for the Bruins but they likely don’t have a choice in the matter. He’ll need to pass through waivers if/when the Bruins cut him from camp and it’s hard to imagine they’ll carry three goalies on the NHL roster (Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin and Subban). The Bruins organization had already seemingly made peace with potentially losing him for nothing after leaving him unprotected in the Vegas expansion draft over the summer, but this preseason gives everybody a little hope that Subban could turn into a late-blooming goaltender prospect.

Certainly, the Bruins coaching staff came away impressed with Subban’s play after a bit of a sloppy first goal allowed to Saad. His presence as one of the final three goalies in camp speaks to how he’s played in the preseason as well.

”You get limited viewing in training camp, you only get a game, a game and a half, so you have to make the best of it, [Subban] did tonight. He was very good. The first goal was a hell of a tip,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “He got caught pulling off the post a bit, but he was rock solid after that. The other goal that beat him was a great shot. We had some breakdowns at different times in the game. Specifically, late there where it could have been scary, but he did his job. He was good. [We’re] very pleased with him.”  

It would appear at this point in camp at the NHL jobs are locked up with Rask and Khudobin as the goaltending tandem to start the season, but give credit to Subban for coming to an important training camp ready and focused to get himself back on the B’s prospect radar.

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Banged up B's 'look forward to the challenge' vs Tampa team they're chasing

TAMPA BAY – It certainly might not be the shape they envisioned themselves being in when these late season games arrived against the President’s Trophy favorites in Tampa Bay, but the Bruins are bracing for a showdown with the high-powered Lightning either way. 

The Bruins stand just four points behind the Bolts with one game in hand, and mathematically they absolutely have a shot of catching and surpassing the Lightning for the NHL’s top spot with three games remaining against them in the season’s final month. But realistically it’s got to be considered a long shot at this point with Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy and Jake DeBrusk all out for Saturday night’s meeting with Tampa, and Bergeron and McAvoy expected to potentially miss all three of their divisional scraps. 

Coming off a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers and at the end of a week-long, four-game road trip, the Bruins know they’re going to need to tighten things up against a Lightning team they can’t match firepower with in their weakened state. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of just playing the game in front of us, and not getting too far ahead, too high or too low. We’ve got the best team in the National Hockey League, arguably, at home and rested [in front of us],” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “We look forward to the challenge. They’re a high-scoring team, so we talked about that with our goaltenders and our ‘D’ today. We better be ‘on’ because they’ll be coming. Our forwards are going to have to help out in that area and make sure we’re reloading well, and keep getting pucks at the net. 

“We didn’t finish [against Florida] but it wasn’t because of lack of effort or lack of pucks at the net. That part of our game is trending pretty well offensively. I think you’re going to have score to a certain extent against this team because you’re not going to shut them down completely. That’s our game plan for whoever is going to be in the lineup. They’ve got to be ready for it because that’s how it works, and that’s how it’s worked all year long for us. We need the guys in there to do their part and do it well.”

Certainly the Bruins could still do some offensive damage with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak still intact on their top line, and David Krejci and Rick Nash also still developing their chemistry on the second line. Torey Krug also came through feeling healthy at practice on Friday after soaking up 26 plus minutes of ice time in the loss to Florida, so they’ll also have some puck-moving and offensive pop on the back end as well.

But it may come down to the Chara-less defense and Tuukka Rask to step up and go into shutdown mode against the Lightning if they’re looking to really push up on the Lightning, and make this a horse race for the Atlantic Division down the stretch. Not to mention, it would be a psychological swing for both teams if the Bruins could take down a rested, relatively healthy Tampa Bay hockey club with their undermanned, injury-ravaged bunch. 

That in and of itself should be plenty of motivation for a Bruins team that’s got their sights and set on bigger and better things this spring with the Lightning expected to be one of the big obstacles standing in their way.


Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

Morning Skate: Tavares or Seguin?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while jacked and pumped about that Infinity War trailer. Wow. 


*Credit here for something outside the box and clear hockey satire while looking far into the NHL’s crystal ball where the new expansion team is called the Seattle Slippery Seals, and Brad Marchand is the head of the NHLPA. That is quite a twist at the end of the movie right there. 


*The Hockey Central crew debates whether they would want John Tavares or Tyler Seguin as a player to build their team around. Seguin is having a solid year (with the end of his contract coming into view), but I’m going with Tavares all day long. I think he’s more of a competitor and a reliable player along with an equitable level of talent, and that counts for quite a bit in team-building. 


*It’s good to see the PHWA decide to make public the ballots of all NHL Awards starting at the end of this season. It’s something I voted in favor of and already did annually as I think transparency is something we always ask for from those we cover, so it should never be something we shy away from. 


*The Flyers have hit the skids again after pushing themselves into playoff view. This has been such a streak team over the last couple of years. 


*Pro Hockey Talk says that the Montreal Canadiens need to take a long look into the mirror before they move on from this season. I couldn’t agree more. 


*For something completely different: I feel badly for my kids that Toys R us is liquidating as a company, and the stores will be closing. It’s getting to the point where there will be no more brick and mortar toy stores for kids to visit, and that’s something from my youth experience that they’re going to miss out on. Frankly, it’s kind of sad.