Can the P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov pairing be the NHL's best?

When P.K. Subban emerged on the scene, Markov was always injured. We salivated at the idea of them playing together, and it's finally happening. What are the results? One of the league's elite pairings.

We had to wait through two injury ravaged seasons for Andrei Markov, and then an extended contract negotiation for P.K. Subban, before we finally saw them both healthy on the same blueline. Sure, Markov played a bit at the end of 2011-12, but he clearly wasn't himself after 7 games in over two years.

Even last season, it took an injury to Alexei Emelin before Michel Therrien finally loaded up on the top pairing and put them together. The results were instantaneous, with the two combining for a 63.4% Corsi at even strength, and a goal % of 85.7%. What does that mean? Well sir or madam, it means that while Markov and Subban were on the ice together, the Montreal Canadiens scored six goals for every one they allowed.

That was in just a short time though, and there was no telling whether or not they could sustain it... Yet so far this season they have.

The possession has taken a slight hit this year, down to a "lowly" 55.2%, but while Markov and Subban are on the ice, the Canadiens are still scoring 80% of the goals. That's five goals for every one allowed at even strength. I repeat, this does not include their powerplay production, which is out of this world.

Even more impressive? While the game is close (within one goal in the first two periods or tied in the third period), while Markov and Subban are on the ice the Canadiens have scored 100% of the goals, with a Corsi percentage of 64.4%.

We're still dealing with small sample sizes here, but Markov's intelligence level combined with Subban's obscene physicality and raw skill creates what could be the perfect pairing from a possession perspective, and they might even have the ability to create high shooting and save percentages. Both have a PDO above 1010 since these stats were recorded.

But how do they compare to other top pairings so far this season?

Pairing Goals for percentage Corsi percentage
Markov/Subban 80.0% 55.2%
Chara/Boychuk 33.3% 58.7%
Keith/Seabrook 44.4% 60.6%
Regehr/Doughty 33.3% 49.1%
Karlsson/Methot 50.0% 53.5%
Ekman-Larsson/Michalek 55.6% 49.2%
Suter/Brodin 40.0% 55.7%
Pietrangelo/Bouwmeester 75.0% 52.6%
Boyle/Irwin 66.7% 58.5%
Enstrom/Byfuglien 57.1% 53.1%

I'm sure I've forgotten one or two pairings that you might think deserve to be included, but this is an elite class of pairings in the NHL, and thus far, an argument can be made that Subban and Markov have been the best of them.

Remember the offseason where the majority of fans wanted Markov gone? Perhaps it's time to start eating those words.

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