Nashville Predators: PK Subban Shines Against Knights

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Two Subbans entered on Friday night, but only one could emerge victorious. Both performed excellently but the Nashville Predators’ defenseman shined.

Some may consider this a hot take but P.K. Subban is a world-class two-way defenseman (sarcasm). He proves it night in and night out by shutting down top competition and keeping the puck out of his zone. There are a few different “schools of shutting down forwards”. One is the Dan Girardi school of giving up the blue line to block a shot, another is the Mattias Ekholm pinch in the neutral zone that relies heavily on positioning. The kind that Subban employs is a quick and uptempo style. Jeff Marek absolutely wonderful described the Nashville Predators defense to a tee, “puck comes in, puck comes out”.

Subban is so good at transitioning the puck and moving it up the ice. It seems as if he rarely makes an east-west pass, instead trying to hit a supporting winger or carry it out himself. This kind of fast thinking defense keeps forecheckers on their heels and the puck out of his zone. That’s why Subban rarely has a lot of Fenwick against despite his disproportionate zone starts. Subban was in peak form on Friday night, as he shined in a game between two tough teams.

For an explanation of each statistic I will use, feel free to check out this article!


Subban rarely, if ever, has a night off from facing opponent’s top lines. The Vegas game was no exception as Subban played the majority of his five on five minutes against Erik Haula, David Perron, and James Neal. The leftover minutes were then used mostly to cover the third line, with a little bit of the second line sprinkled in.

Things didn’t exactly start in Subban’s  favor, as he didn’t record an offensive zone faceoff against the first line. In fact, only Alex Tuch and Reilly Smith started the majority of their shifts against Subban in their defensive zone. That went as well as you’d think, with Subban absolutely crushing them in Corsi, Fenwick, and high danger chances.


Alexei Emelin must feel so lucky to play next to Subban night in and night out. He’s probably going to make a pretty penny based off the partnership.  Emelin has been attached to the hip of Subban this year, and it was on display against the Knights. They were together for 13 minutes, while the next most played defenseman with Subban, Anthony Bitetto, only played about 52 seconds. Either the Nashville Predators don’t trust Emelin, or they just want to keep the Montreal buddies together.

The forwards group is much more spread out, as Subban played almost equal minutes with the first and second lines. The first line saw Subban for about 5 minutes while the second line saw him for about 4 and a half. The takeaway is that while Subban was going up against top-six talent, he still had top-six help. Especially from the Jarnkrok line who dominated the Knight’s first line while on the ice together.


Subban was a force of nature on the ice against Vegas. In 14 minutes, he only surrendered 10 shot attempts, and actually blocked one. His Corsi of 70.59% and his Fenwick of 68.97% accurately reflect that in my opinion. He was a force in his own zone as he managed to disrupt puck movement and was a king in transition. He started in the defensive zone 58.33% of the time, but the puck rarely stayed there. Despite the tough competition and deployment, the Knights couldn’t hem the superstar in his own zone. Putting Subban on the ice was basically canceling any advantage Vegas might’ve had.

Subban was so good at suppressing shots, he only allowed six while he was on the ice, with three coming around the net. Despite these shots around the net though, Subban only gave up one high danger chance and no goals. On the flip side of the coin, things were going perfectly in the offensive zone when Subban was on the ice. The Nashville Predators accumulated four high danger chances and three goals with Subban patrolling the blueline. Despite the positive goal differential, Subban didn’t record a point, but he contributed in other ways.

Nothing new

I wonder sometimes why I also go to bat for P.K. Subban, and I think it stems back to the way he was run out of Montreal. A player with the skill and personality of Subban should be in every commercial ever aired by the NHL.

We so often skip over Subban because of his usage and deployment, whereas Roman Josi is more offensive and will take the risk to step up into the play. It reminds me of the situation last season with Brent Burns and the San Jose Sharks. Burns won the Norris despite not being anywhere near the best defenseman in the NHL. Heck, he wasn’t even the best defenseman on his team. I see a lot of that with the Nashville Predators. No disrespect to Josi, but I don’t think he could play a shutdown role like Subban does. And we all know that Subban can light it up when called upon, with his multiple seasons in Montreal and a Norris trophy being the evidence.

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I digress, Subban absolutely dominated Friday’s game. My only complaint would be that he didn’t play enough, but that’s barely a complaint. The day is fast approaching where Subban won’t have to drag around Emelin, and then we’ll be in for a treat. I think we’ll see many performances like Friday from Subban once Ellis comes back and Ekholm returns to the “second” pair.