by Caitlyn Golem, Staff Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Photo from https://twitter.com/uninterrupted)

It seems every time I go to write an article, P.K. Subban always manages to be the topic of discussion.

Once the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, the majority of Habs fans jumped on the Nashville Predator’s bandwagon. Why Nashville, you may ask? For no reason other than their beloved P.K. Subban.

If I am being honest, I had Nashville losing in the first round in six games. I used my head to come to that conclusion – obviously I was very much off. However, I did go with my heart with some of my bracket, having the Canadiens win it all. This was my full bracket:

As you can see, my predictions were off by a great deal. However, I can’t say I am entirely upset with the results so far. As a Canadiens fan, I was disappointed, but as Subban fan, I have reason to be excited.

The Predators got off to a slow start this season going just 3-5-3 in their first 11 games. This is because the acquisition of Subban meant the team had to adapt to an entirely different defensive structure. As a result, Predator’s goaltender, Pekka Rinne, also did not have a great start to the season.

Things slowly turned around and the team managed to clinch the second wildcard seed in the Western Conference. Making the playoffs was an accomplishment in itself, but the team had little time to celebrate as they had to start preparing to face off against the top seeded team in their conference, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Twenty-one expert NHL analysts made their playoff predictions, and only one of them had Nashville making it through the first round. The odds were certainly stacked against the Predators. That said, they not only managed to pull through and beat the Blackhawks, but did so in four games. The team even kept Chicago off the board the first two games.

In the series, Nashville outscored Chicago 15-3. This was largely due to Rinne having a .967 save percentage (Sv%) in the series, even managing to earn himself two assists. Another key factor that helped them to win the series was Subban and Mattias Ekholm shutting down Jonathan Toews, allowing him to only score once in the entirety of the series.

The Predators then faced the St. Louis Blues in the second round, where they won in six games. At the end of this series, Rinne had a .951 Sv% in the playoffs. Another important factor was the Predator’s defence combined for a total of 17 points during the second round, six of which were goals.

This production from the blue line certainly gave them the edge. Again, Ekholm and Subban were matched up against a key player for the opposing team. This time it was Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, who only managed to score two goals throughout the series.

Nashville had done it. Beating the St. Louis Blues had put the team in their first ever conference final where they would face the Anaheim Ducks. The Predators drew first blood with a 3-2 win in which Subban got the game-winning assist in overtime.

In game two, Nashville didn’t fare as well, losing 5-3. The Predators however managed to once again take the lead in the series with a 2-1 win over the Ducks, also giving them a 2-1 lead in the series. In game four, Nashville had the chance to take a very demanding 3-1 series lead, but the Ducks stood their ground. Anaheim had a two-goal lead over the Predators until late in the third period on Thursday, when Subban unleashed his signature slap shot from the point giving the Predators life. Then with 34.5 seconds left in regulation, Filip Forsberg tied it up, sending the game to overtime. With an unfortunate deflection, the Predators lost the game and the Ducks tied the series once again – this time at two games a piece.

Is it Nashville’s time to win the Stanley Cup? Will Subban bring the trophy back to Montreal? Only time will tell, but for Predators and Canadiens fans alike, P.K. and the rest of the thriving Predators have sparked hope.

(Photo by Danny Murphy – Icon Sportswire)

Subban plays big minutes for Nashville averaging 25:48 per game in the post-season. He spends that time on the ice with some of his opponent’s best players, and has still managed to be fourth in points among defensemen with nine.

Of course, this would not be an article about P.K. if the infamous Subban – Shea Weber trade was not mentioned. Analyzing who won the trade is still almost impossible.

If one was to say Nashville won the trade simply because of the outcome of the playoffs so far, they would be delusional. Playoff games are not won by an individual effort, nor are they lost by one.

Montreal was put out as a team and Nashville is winning as one. This details very little in regard to the trade as there are too many other factors for it to be a fair comparison. A conversation with my friend, Edward K. Motley, seemed to outline one of the best takes on the outcome of the trade.

“..starting to feel like the NHL won the Weber/Subban trade more than either the Predators or the Habs.”

Motley’s view is that he is, “starting to feel like the NHL won the Weber/Subban trade more than either the Predators or the Habs.”

I proceeded to ask why and he explained, “these ‘star-for-star’ trades are so rare, although often the first topic of conversation on sports radio. Here, two teams actually did what so many others have only talked about. The NHL can claim (despite issues with the claims) that Habs went from being an outside team to winning their division and Predators went from being a playoff team to being a playoff contender in the aftermath of the trade. Since neither team was unilaterally hurt by the trade, all the attention it was given benefits the NHL. Especially because it continues to be a talking point into the post-season (enter P.K. as the Stanley Cup poster boy).”

No matter who may or may not have won the trade, fans of both Nashville and Montreal are on the same page right now. Both are hoping Subban becomes a Stanley Cup Champion.

Edited by Donna Sim