March 3, 2014

AHL Journal: Bruins' Subban finding his stride

By Mike Miccoli

Malcolm Subban had an .899 save percentage through his first four appearances - all Providence losses - but he's evolved into a solid option for the Bruins, and he's given the big club some breathing room, too. (Photo by Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

It took Malcolm Subban four starts after to pick up his first AHL win back on Nov. 9 against the Worcester Sharks. Even then, the rookie goaltender seemed to still be making the transition to the pros, often looking a bit shaky as he learned the new pace of the game and allowed 25 goals in his first seven starts.

Almost four months later, Subban is becoming rock-solid in net, his talent especially on display this weekend when he helped the Providence Bruins win back-to-back shootouts.

Maybe it’s his charisma and growing sense of confidence, but Subban is maturing into a legitimate goaltender for the P-Bruins. Subban faced a total of 12 skaters in Saturday and Sunday’s shootouts, allowing only two goals combined. It speaks to the way Subban has been playing, regaining poise and thwarting opponents’ attempts to find the back of the net.

In his last nine games, Subban has only allowed three goals once, boasting an impressive 7-1-0-1 record with one shutout. While Niklas Svedberg is the starter in Providence and with Tuukka Rask holding down the crease in Boston, Subban gives the Bruins organization some sensational depth in net.

If his solid play continues, look for Providence to freely rely on Subban more to provide Svedberg with rest for a possible postseason run.

Power Rankings:

1) Springfield Falcons (34-17-1-5): Not an incredibly impressive week for the Falcons, but it’s hard to argue with Springfield picking up three of a possible four points and the Monarchs losing both games. They’ll overtake the top spot in the rankings this week, but if they plan on usurping Manchester, they’ll have to move at full speed ahead for the remainder of their schedule – the Falcons are still six points behind the Monarchs, with three games in hand. (Last week: 1-0-0-1, #2)

2) Manchester Monarchs (36-16-2-6): A rare winless week for the Monarchs, who lost back-to-back games against the Norfolk Admirals. With offensive stalwarts Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, and Tanner Pearson all out of the lineup, an opportunistic Admirals squad was able to capitalize on Manchester’s losses. The Monarchs are back at home for three straight next weekend with a chance to turn their fortune around. (Last week: 0-2, #1)

3) Providence Bruins (31-20-1-6): The Bruins weren’t able to overcome the Sound Tigers but managed two back-to-back wins in the shootout with Malcolm Subban anchoring in net. They were big wins for the Bruins, who went from ninth to sixth place in a tight Eastern Conference race for postseason berths. (Last week: 2-1, #3)

4) Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-26-1-4): After getting to seven straight wins, the Sound Tigers dropped their two games this week against the Sharks and the Utica Comets. It’s hard to fault Kenny Reiter, who made 52 saves on 56 shots in the two losses rather; it was the Bridgeport offense who could only muster a goal in each of the games. (Last week: 1-2, #4)

5) Hartford Wolfpack (23-27-0-6): The Wolfpack are another team who saw their winning streak come to an end this week, after four straight victories. After two straight wins, the Pirates ended the streak with a 5-1 victory over the Wolfpack on Sunday. After a dreadful start to his season with the San Antonio Rampage, Dov Grumet-Morris picked up his ninth and tenth wins of the season for Hartford with victories on Friday and Saturday night in goal. (Last week: 2-1, #5)

6) Portland Pirates (21-26-2-7): The knock on the Pirates in the last few weeks was their lack of offense. That need was addressed when the Pirates scored 16 goals in their four games this past week. Four of those came from the stick of winger Brendan Shinnimin, who scored two apiece in each of the Pirates’ wins last week. (Last week: 2-2, #7)

7) Worcester Sharks (24-27-3-1): So it was the Sharks who broke up the Sound Tigers seven-game winning streak; the same team that had lost seven straight going into the contest. Makes perfect sense, right? Even though they were able to upend Bridgeport, the Sharks still lost two of three games this past week, continuing their freefall in the Eastern Conference. (Last week: 1-2, #6)

Games of the Week:

Friday, March 7:

Worcester Sharks @ Providence Bruins (7:05 pm)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ St. John’s IceCaps (7:30 pm)

Saturday, March 8:

Providence Bruins @ Manchester Monarchs (3 pm)

Portland Pirates @ Worcester Sharks (7 pm)

Sunday, March 9:

Springfield Falcons @ Portland Pirates (4 pm)

Twitter: @MikeMiccoli