It has been a rough start for the Boston Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence as the organization is rebuilding, nor has it been any different for Bruins’ goaltender Malcolm Subban. An injury derailed the start of his season, and after missing the first month of the 2015-16 campaign, he was winless in November (0-5-2) before picking up an 18-save shutout on November 28th against Lehigh Valley.
“Sometimes you come back from injury and you feel good, and sometimes you don’t,” Subban said, hinting that the latter was the case for him. “It can affect your game a little bit, but I feel 100% now, so that’s good.”
Through 20 games, the Providence Bruins sit in last place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 5-10-4-1. Injuries at separate times – forward Seth Griffith in the preseason and forward Alexander Khokhlachev at the beginning of November – haven’t helped the cause. Impressive rookie Frank Vatrano has been up with Boston since November 6th and tallied the game-winning goal and an assist for the NHL Bruins last Wednesday. Subban and the remaining Providence roster are just trying to make due.
“Obviously, it’s a pretty tough a situation we’re in,” Subban said. “We have a lot of new players, we’re a rebuilding team. That’s what we have to work with right now and that’s what I’m focusing on – to give our team a chance to win every night.”
In order to give his team a chance to win every night, Subban said there were two things he was looking to bring to the table.
“One thing is to be able to play when you are not facing a lot of shots,” Subban noted. “It shows your maturity level and ability to stay focused. The other [is] being able to steal games for your team,” he added. “Those are the two biggest assets you can have as a goaltender – that’s what makes the goalies in the NHL so good.”
Subban’s numbers so far this season – a 3.10 goals-against average and .872 save percentage – aren’t nearly as good as they were in his rookie and second-year campaigns, but he hasn’t taken a step back in his development. In fact, despite the numbers, Subban has more experiences to draw from now in his third season of pro hockey, with a total of 72 regular season appearances under his belt.
“I feel like I’m adapted now,” Subban said of his adjustment to the pro game. “Maybe in my first or second year I saw a shot and was like, wow. I’m adjusted to the shots a lot better and maturing as a goaltender. My reflexes are slowly getting better as I get older. I can be calm in net because I feel more confident in my abilities.”
The Boston Bruins’ first round pick, 24th overall, in 2012 definitely has the abilities to join his brother as the second Subban playing in the NHL, but needs to ride it out until Providence gets back on track. For Subban, he is hoping to use his athletic ability to continue making saves and steal some games until the AHL Bruins get more bodies back into the lineup.
“I think my focus is the biggest thing. My coaches talked to me about my focus levels and stuff like that,” Subban said. “I kind of took it to heart to really figure out what I was doing wrong.
“The past few games I see what they’re talking about. Sometimes it’s tough when you get into bad habits, but the last few games I realized what they’re talking about. I felt a lot better. I feel like my normal self, like I did last year and the year before, so hopefully I can just keep it going.”
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