2013 Habs Half Season Review - P.K. Subban

USA TODAY Sports

Most of the first half of the season P.K. Subban was played as if he was a rookie, sitting on the third pairing. This produced some absurd possession stats, but when Subban really took off was when he was given the tough minutes he's used to.

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Please refer to the introduction for explanations of all statistics used in this review.

P.K. Subban is kind of a big deal. A quick glance at that graphic reveals that Subban is the top ranked defenseman on the team in 13 different categories. What's surprising though, is that it should actually be more.

Subban missing 6 games in the 24 game sample we're using puts him behind the 8 ball in scoring chances, and Therrien's confounding usage in the first half has him further down the time on ice leaderboard in every situation than he should be.

Subban's possession numbers here are patently absurd for an NHL player, but that's what happens when you put an elite defensemen against middling competition. Subban is the best possession driver on the Canadiens, even better than Max Pacioretty, so it's easy to see why using him in a sheltered role was a waste.

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As you can see from his game by game breakdown, Subban had a really rocky first game back, then took off, but only to around team average. When Raphael Diaz went down, Therrien put him up against top competition, but eased up on his zone starts to allow for an easier adjustment, before they began to get tougher again. It was when he began to play against tougher matchups again that his possession numbers skyrocketed.

Subban was so good in fact, that he was able to outdo a team worst PDO of 996 to put up a +2 rating anyway. There was rust though, missing training camp and perhaps not feeling challenged, Subban's scoring chance differential was merely even.

Part of this is simply variance in a small sample I would wager, considering his possession numbers are so dominant.

Subban's shot rate at even strength was better than David Desharnais and Michael Ryder in the first half, and approaching that of Alex Galchenyuk.

The biggest difference between last year and this year for Subban though, is the powerplay. Last year he was a more than competent trigger man who generated a lot of scoring chances, but couldn't get the puck into the net. This year he has become the ultimate powerplay quarterback.

Subban leads the entire team in shot attempts per 60 while on the man advantage with 20.15, but he'll just as soon carve a team up with a perfect pass as he'll put a bullet one-timer off the crossbar and in.

The only area where Subban's game hasn't improved, has been his shorthanded play. He hasn't had a setback there, in fact his play has been nearly identical, but Therrien has been loathe to use him in that way, which really doesn't make any sense since Andrei Markov has been horrid.

P.K. Subban is a franchise defenseman, but in the first half he was used as a secondary guy. Even judging him harshly, there is no denying his spectacular first 18 games. The thing is, since then he's been even better, and by a large margin, against tougher competition, so it's not the best he can play.

First half grade: 9/10

To see how Subban's performance has changed, check our last year's review.


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