BOSTON — Malcolm Subban was 30 minutes or so removed from perhaps his most embarrassing performance on a hockey rink. The Bruins’ first-round draft pick from a year ago made his debut in front of the hometown for the first time, albeit in preseason action, against one of the NHL’s greatest franchises in the Detroit Red Wings.
It had all the makings of a nice “Welcome to the NHL” moment for the rookie. Instead, fans were mock cheering every save he made by the end of an 8-2 loss to the Wings. All eight goals were charged to Subban, and it was a “Welcome to the NHL” moment of a different kind.
So, shortly after meeting with the media and taking his lumps, Subban headed back out to the rink. He didn’t step foot on the ice, though. Instead, Subban could be seen running up and down the Garden stairs and doing lunges as well.
Perhaps this is normal for Subban. Perhaps it’s something he felt he needed to do after the rough outing. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to deny that brighter days are certainly in the youngster’s future.
But, for one night at least, Subban certainly struggled. The eight goals were bad, and some of them were ones he should have had. But it wasn’t all his fault, either. The Bruins picked Thursday night to turn in their worst effort of the preseason, and Subban was the victim of that. Going up against a team like the Red Wings featuring the likes of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the deck was stacked against the goalie.
Still, Subban took his medicine and owned up to the fact that he didn’t do his job Thursday night.
“No matter what I did the pucks just found [their] way in, a couple bad bounces, but I didn’t do my part tonight,” he admitted after the game.
“Focus probably isn’t there all the way so I guess I thought I was focused but obviously not. I got to be better the next opportunity I get.”
While Subban wasn’t ready to pin the ugly showing on his teammates, they were more than willing to step up and at least share responsibility for Subban’s performance.
“We left him out to dry,” defenseman Matt Bartkowski flatly stated.
“Despite the score, Malcolm, he made some really great saves tonight,” Gregory Campbell added. “He’s a young kid, and that’s a really good team with some great players. I think the onus is on us to help him out some more.”
For Subban, and for any young players really, it’s all about being able to make adjustments. It doesn’t hurt to have talent and potential, but if you’re not able to apply that in the right way and adjust to further tailor those skills, you’re going to struggle to find success. Subban knows that, and the Bruins are certainly banking on him continuing to make those adjustments moving forward. While it probably stings right now, Subban and the B’s must hope this serves as a learning experience for the young goalie.
Luckily for all involved, there’s no rush for Subban to develop into the solid NHL goalie many think he can be. But if he’s going to continue on that track, he’ll have to use Thursday’s performance as a valuable learning experience and nothing else.