So it turns out the Montreal Canadiens survived just fine without P.K. Subban. The Habs were 4-2, with the ninth lowest goals against in the league while their star defenseman missed time due to a contract dispute. Despite all of the trade rumors swirling, the Canadiens ultimately re-signed Subban to a two-year deal worth $5.75 million. He could make his season debut as early as Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
Veteran defensemen Andrei Markov, Francis Boullion and Tomas Kaberle have been solid for Montreal, and youngster Raphael Diaz continues to impress. Markov leads the team with four goals and eight points, and Diaz’s eight assists highlight his sophomore campaign so far. During the lockout Diaz returned home to Switzerland, where he played for an EV Zug team that also featured the Detroit Red Wings’ Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg.
New head coach Michel Therrien has already brought some changes to the team, limiting individual celebrations and not immediately rushing Subban back onto the ice. It remains to be seen if his team-first philosophy will clash with the sometimes abrasive youngster, who has made a habit of irritating opposing forwards. After a 14-goal, 38-point rookie season in 2010-11, Subban took a bit of a step backwards last season, with seven goals and 36 points in four more games than the prior season. If the Canadiens hope to return to the postseason, things need to continue coming together for them, and any hard feeling over Subban’s holdout need to be resolved quickly. The best way he can make up for it is with his performance on the ice, (hopefully) beginning this weekend.