P.K. Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens shoots during warmup before NHL action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre January 21, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
(January 20, 2012 - Source: Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

Even with a Norris Trophy, Subban has room for improvement

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Nobody has ever questioned PK Subban’s ability to create offense. The 24-year-old defenseman was a prolific scorer in junior; however, his perceived defensive deficiencies hurt his draft stock, allowing the Canadiens to select him 43rd overall in 2007.

After Subban was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2013, that pick is looking awfully savvy.

This past season, after missing the first six games due to a contract dispute, Subban tallied 38 points, tying him with Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang for the scoring lead among defensemen.

Subban, Letang, and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter were subsequently named the three finalists for the Norris.

While Subban ended up with the most support from Norris voters (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association), it was an extremely close race between first and second — Subban finished with 66 first-place votes; Suter got 65.

Suter supporters pointed to his average ice time (27:16 to Subban’s 23:14) as well as all the time he spent killing penalties (102:14 to Subban’s 60:54).

In fact, there were 34 regular NHL d-men who logged more ice per game than Subban and 117 who spent more time killing penalties.

That said, most everyone will agree that Subban has become a more responsible defender, in addition to all he brings offensively.

“He’s a young defenseman who improves a lot,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said in May. “He’s only 23 years old. (He’s made) a nice progression. We like the way that he’s playing for us. He’s a lot more dependable that he was a few years ago, and that’s a good sign.”

Upon winning the Norris, Subban said getting honored at such a young age was “all the more reason for me to continue to get better, to continue to be a leader and develop both as a player and as a person.”

With another contract negotiation looming, how he performs in 2013-14 — after which he can become a restricted free agent — will be worth watching.

More Montreal Canadiens day on PHT:

Five Habs to watch in 2013-14

Habs need bounceback from Price

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.