Subban ready for prime time

Montreal Canadiens P.K Subban in an NHL pre-season game in Montreal, September 24, 2010. ...

Montreal Canadiens P.K Subban in an NHL pre-season game in Montreal, September 24, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best, file

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:08 PM ET

MONTREAL - Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri has taken to jokingly referring to Habs rookie defenceman P.K. Subban as "Prime Time."

"Just (fooling) with him," said Cammalleri.

There's no question, though, that Subban is ready for prime time in the NHL on a full-time basis this season and it will be, if nothing else, interesting.

With his dynamic skating, energy and willingness to try just about anything on the ice, the 21-year-old is going to thrill the Bell Centre fans, who already chant his name, and, at times, drive a defence-first type of coach like Jacques Martin a little crazy at times.

Subban used his speed for an end-to-end rush against the Ottawa Senators Friday night (how often to do see that anymore?) and tried to tuck the puck past Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire at the right post. Fun stuff.

Later, he scored the Canadiens first goal with a good one-timer from the point.

But he also turned the puck over at the Ottawa blue line a couple of times trying to do too much, once while trying to execute a spin-o-rama move that saw him fall and give up the puck.

But that's Subban.

Right now, you take the good with the bad.

"What you have to like about him is he brings it every single shift," said one Eastern Conference scout.

"I don't think anybody evaluates their game after one pre-season game. I know people are going to critique my game," said Subban, who said he'd take a look at things after 20 regular-season games, "evaluate and see what changes might have to be made.

"Maybe I tried to force a couple of things (against Ottawa), but as the game went on, I tried to keep it simple. I didn't get myself in trouble. I know there's a lot of room to get better."

"P.K. has some good qualities with the puck," Martin said. "But he has to find a happy medium in terms of when to support the attack and when to focus on defence."

Subban has to be considered one of the favourites for the Calder Trophy along with Edmonton Oilers rookies Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi. Subban's got an advantage in that he got great experience last spring when he was called up for Game 6 of the Habs first-round series against the Washington Capitals and played a big role in the Canadiens' upset of both the Caps and the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

His opportunity expanded when top defenceman Andrei Markov went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the second round against the Pens, an injury from which he still has not recovered. The best-case scenario is he will be back sometime in late October and until then, Subban will get a good shot for the Habs, especially on the power play.

Subban wound up topping 20 minutes a night in the post-season run and had eight points in 14-post season games.

He turned to video of the post-season run during the off-season.

"I watched game tape all summer once I got bored," Subban said. "I watched that Game 7 against Washington, and when you watch that and see all the emotion, you realize that was a pretty good game. Those are big games that we were playing, and to see the plays we were making in those big games, it gives you confidence."

HEAR AND THERE: The Canadiens were playing their third game in three nights Sunday night as they hosted the Minnesota Wild. The Florida Panthers are at the Bell Centre Monday night. ... After debuting on a line with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, rookie Lars Ellers was to play with David Desharnais and Mathieu Darche against the Wild. Andrei Kostitsyn was to play with Gomez and Gionta. ... Alex Auld was to play in goal for Montreal. ... G Carey Price has allowed 10 goals on 37 shots in his two starts.


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