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Murph’s Musings: Subban Motivated By Bruins And Their Fans

P.K. Subban embraces and relishes the trash talk he gets from fans and the media.

PK Subban
PK Subban

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins and their fans may want to think twice before trying to rattle Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban off his game. Subban has no problems with the fact that when he and his teammates take to the TD Garden ice on Thursday night for Game 1 of their second round playoff series against the Bruins or during every game there in the series he will be targeted by the Bruins and their fans. The booing every time he touches the puck doesn’t bother him. Subban also embraces the extra attention he gets when a Bruins player is more focused on getting in an extra hit or some fancy stick work on him. To Subban, this simply means he’s doing his job.

“It doesn’t matter if I like it or I’m ready for it because it doesn’t really dictate how I play or how this team plays,” Subban told the media recently. “That’s the most important thing. If they’re trying to find ways to get me off my game, that means I’m doing something right.”

Unlike the Bruins, their fans and even some of the media who cover the Bruins, he doesn’t believe doing his job entails embellishment or talking trash.

“I don’t consider that any part of my game,” said Subban of trying to cross the line both physically and verbally to agitate opponents. “I consider playing well as the biggest way of agitating other teams’ players — putting the puck in the net, playing physical, having an impact on the game. That seems to (make people angry) a lot more than talking or chirping.”

Now, as many opponents and even teammates who were former opponents of Subban will tell you, that’s not exactly true but then again, Subban himself will admit he talks a good game. But as Canadiens forward Brandon Prust — who has played against and now with Subban can confirm — he walks that game too.

“It’s the swagger he plays with,” said Prust. “He’s being a pest out there and chirping … then he’ll come out and tee one up top-shelf on you. He’ll hit you hard; he’ll take a run at you. I think what frustrates people is he’s so good.”

And whether the Bruins or their fans want to admit it, he is very good. In fact, there’s been plenty of fans who’ve expressed to this scribe on Twitter that they would love for the Bruins to poach their favorite villain via an offer sheet from the Habs if Subban reaches restricted free agency this July 1. That would reunite him with his brother Malcolm who is the goalie for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins but even better for Bruins fans, infuriate the Habs and their fans.

But right now the focus will be on stopping Subban who almost helped the Canadiens add another dagger to the Bruins’ hearts when he tied Game 7 of the 2011 first round series between the Bruins and Canadiens that Boston went on to win in overtime on a Nathan Horton goal. Horton’s gone but Subban’s back and hoping to get revenge and derail another Bruins Stanley Cup run.

“We were up 3-1. We were up 3-1 in the third period,” Subban said of Game 4 when the Bruins came back and won 5-4 in overtime to tie the series at two game a piece. “With a veteran team and the experience we had, we should’ve won the game but we didn’t win it. Who’s to say what would’ve happened moving forward? I just think we had an opportunity to beat the team that won the Stanley Cup that year.

For guys that are in this room that were there then and were a part of it, maybe this is another opportunity to salvage something. You have to give them credit though. They played well to and it’s a seven-game series. It takes a lot of heart, a lot of blocked shots and a lot of grit to win that and they won it. They deserved to win it. But I thought that we fell a little bit short and we deserved to win as well but it didn’t happen.”

Subban didn’t play as well as he did in his Norris Trophy winning campaign last year but if there’s one thing he’s done throughout his hockey career and even during this past season, it’s be a clutch player and perform better when the stakes are higher. They can’t be any higher than they are now as he and the Canadiens try to upset the President’s Trophy winners and heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup, their hated rivals the Bruins.

“I’ve always been a guy that’s excited to play in the playoffs because it’s meaningful and because it seems like the bigger the stage, the better I play and the more I play,” Subban said.

Subban — who has five helpers in four playoff games so far — will likely play plenty and it will be very interesting to see if the extra attention from the Bruins and their fans fuels him as he said it does or rattles him and subsequently his teammates.

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