BOSTON -- It remains to be seen if Malcolm Subban will actually get into any action during his current NHL stint with the Bruins, but the 22-year-old goalie prospect feels a lot closer to being NHL ready at this point. That’s a tremendously good thing given that Subban’s only NHL experience was getting yanked from last spring’s loss to the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on each of the first three shots he faced in the second period of that game.
That’s something he’s used as motivation last summer and throughout this season, and in adjusting his goaltending style and technique while working closely with Bruins goalie coach Bob Essensa.
“I’m happy to be here, 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,” said Subban. “I feel like I’ve taken a huge step forward in my play from last year.
“The style I used to play before was more of an inconsistent style. Goalie Bob 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.”
Subban has appeared in 26 games so far this season with the Providence Bruins after a very slow start marred by an injury, and has compiled a 14-8-4 record with a 2.45 GAA and .913 save percentage with the P-Bruins. It’s obviously not the gangbuster kind of AHL season that says Subban is ready to take over an NHL starting gig tomorrow, but he continues to make progress just as Tuukka Rask did during his AHL development days of yesteryear.
“[Subban] has been really good in Providence from what I hear. He’s been a lot more consistent, and that’s just a goaltender maturing into something closer to a starter,” said Julien. “He’s played the majority of the games whereas in the past there’s been more of a split. I think he’s done good job.”
Subban is with Boston on emergency recall in place of the injured Jonas Gustavsson on injured reserve, and will only be with the Bruins as long as it takes the veteran backup to gain the medical clearance required to again play in games.
“Gustavsson has been great. He’s come in and done the job, and he’s won the majority of his games,” said Julien. “When you’ve got a backup goalie that can give you that number of wins, you’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Gustavsson could be cleared to play again as quickly as the next couple of days with Subban getting dropped back to Providence when that does happen. Or Subban could get another look at the NHL level if Gustavsson’s heart complications – which have required three previous procedures during his NHL career - are deemed an issue by the Bruins medical staff.
Then one of the many young B’s pieces potentially available in trade discussions could get an interesting audition for scouts at the NHL level, and Subban will finally get his chance to redeem himself for a forgettable trip to St. Louis last season.