P.K. Subban

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Where it went wrong for Predators, and how they could fix it

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There has been a changing of the guard in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins? Out without winning a single game between them.

The Winnipeg Jets, a Western Conference Finalist a year ago and a popular Stanley Cup pick this season? They are finished.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Now the Nashville Predators, one of the top teams in the Western Conference for a couple of years now, have joined them. Just like the Jets, it probably should not be a huge surprise to see them go out as early as they did because something just seemed to be off with this team for much of the season, and especially in the second half.

It’s not hard to find the biggest culprit in their demise this season, either, and it begins with an inconsistent offense that was dragged down by the league’s worst power play unit. It was a unit that hit rock bottom in their Round 1 loss against the Dallas Stars.

To say it was bad would be an understatement.

It wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad. The type of performance that would make even an objective third party with no rooting interest scream at the TV at its overall incompetence.

After finishing the regular season converting on just 12.9 of their power play opportunities, one of the worst marks the NHL has seen over the past 15 years, the Predators went 0-for-the-series against Dallas, failing to score on even one of their 15 power play attempts. This is not something that just happens. The NHL has tracked power play success rates as far back as the 1933-34 season, and the Predators were just the 11th team during that time to get at least 15 power play opportunities in the playoffs and fail to score a single goal. You probably will not be shocked to learn that none of those 11 teams advanced beyond Round 1. You don’t need a great power play to win the Stanley Cup, but you need to get something out of it on occasion.

The Predators got nothing, continuing what turned out to be a season-long trend.

Dallas’ PK deserves a lot of credit here, and especially starting goalie Ben Bishop, but Nashville’s struggles on the power play weren’t a new thing in this series, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest it wasn’t just a run of bad luck — it was simply a bad unit that needs drastically improved.

Not only did they have the NHL’s lowest success rate, but they were only 19th in the league at generating shot attempts on the power play and even worse (24th) at actually getting those attempts on net. If you can’t generate shots, and if you can’t get them on net when you do, you’re not going to score many goals.

Now comes the question on how to address it.

Injuries were a big problem for the Predators throughout the season, with Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, P.K, Subban, and Kyle Turris all missing significant action, and when Turris was on the ice, his production took a cliff dive. It is worth wondering if they are in need of another big-time forward. Forsberg and Arvidsson are outstanding, but they might still need another impact player up front. Maybe a full season from Mikael Granlund will help (he was mostly silent after coming over from the Minnesota Wild in a pre-deadline trade), but even he is not really a player that is going to put the fear of God in an opposing defense. He is very similar to what the Predators’ forward group is already made of — really good and really productive players, but not really a game-changing, impact talent.

If there is one thing to be said about general manager David Poile it is that he is not afraid to swing for the fences in trades. He has made several blockbusters over the past few years and it has played a significant role in building the roster the Predators have today. Would he be willing to make another one, and would he consider dipping into his pool of star defenders and flipping one for another impact talent up front to help strengthen an offense that went stale this year and a power play unit that collapsed on itself from the very beginning of the year?

He already did it once when he traded Seth Jones to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Ryan Johansen, and it might be worth at least considering again. It is a delicate balance to strike because the Predators’ defense, especially their top-four of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm is a huge part of what has made the team so good. But it is also a very clear strength and could be used to maybe help address what is now looking like a pretty significant weakness.

The other option is to keep your All-Star defense, shed salary elsewhere on the roster (Turris, if you think he is done as a top-six performer; maybe a Craig Smith or Nick Bonino?) and try to position yourself for a run at an Artemi Panarin or Jeff Skinner in free agency.

Whatever path they choose, it would be awfully difficult to come back next season with the same collection of forwards after they struggled so much this season and helped assemble such a dreadful power play unit. They simply need another finisher somewhere on the roster that can bring a level of consistency to the offense and improve a power play that failed the team all season.

Related: Stars eliminate Predators in overtime thriller

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Watch episode three of The P.K. Project: Inside look at All-Star Special

In episode three of THE P.K. PROJECT, cameras follow Subban as he travels to San Jose, Calif., for NHL All-Star Weekend, and prepares for his debut as a late night talk show host and the premiere of P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special on NBCSN. Subban brings fans inside the rehearsals and taping of the late-night show, and his one-on-one interviews with stand-up comic and award-winning television host W. Kamau Bell, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, and 13-year old hockey player Ty Cornett.

THE P.K. PROJECT, a multi-episode original series produced by NBC Sports Digital, takes viewers behind the scenes and inside the non-stop life of three-time NHL All-Star and Music City superstar P.K. Subban.

New episodes of THE P.K. PROJECT will debut each Wednesday across NBC Sports Digital platforms.

Episode 1: There’s no mercy at the Subban house
Episode 2: Subban shows off culinary scene
• P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special

Watch the P.K. Subban All-Star Special

NBC Sports Group is proud to present P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special, a one-hour late night talk show hosted by Nashville Predators defenseman and three-time NHL All-Star P.K. Subban. The show aired following the conclusion of the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills on Friday night.

Following his monologue, Subban welcomed to his show 13-year-old Ty Cornett, who has been hearing racial slurs while playing youth hockey, and explains how the young defenseman has become a hero to him.

Subban then sat down with his Predators’ teammate Roman Josi for his All-Star Show to talk about controlling locker room music, his early modeling days and much more.

NBC SPORTS DIGITAL SERIES THE P.K. PROJECT AVAILABLE NOW ON NBCSPORTS.COM, NBC SPORTS APP AND NBC SPORTS YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Earlier this month, NBC Sports Group and Subban agreed to a first-of-its-kind content partnership to produce P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special, as well as a multi-episode original digital series, THE P.K. PROJECT.

From a guided tour of Subban’s current hometown of Nashville, Tenn., to jamming with country music star Lee Brice, THE P.K. PROJECT takes viewers behind the scenes and inside the non-stop life of one of the NHL’s most popular and fashion-forward athletes.

In the premiere episode of the exclusive digital-only series, the Music City superstar, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist journeys to Toronto as the Predators visit the Maple Leafs. Subban spends time with his parents and sisters, gets some home cooking at his parents’ house, and then the entire family gathers at the game.

Episode one of THE P.K. PROJECT is available now on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app, and NBC Sports YouTube Channel. Click here to watch.

New episodes of THE P.K. PROJECT will debut each Wednesday across NBC Sports Digital platforms.

Subban hosting TV special after All-Star Skills competition

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By Teresa M. Walker (AP Sports Writer)

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban has found a way to go beyond his more than 1.1 million followers on Twitter and 844,000 more on Instagram.

He’s hitting national television.

The 2013 Norris Trophy winner will host ”P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special” Friday night on NBC Sports Network airing immediately after the NHL All-Star Skills competition, and Subban is ready to have some fun.

”It allows me to have a platform to be able to talk about things that I care about,” Subban told The Associated Press on Thursday. ”It’s not all about me with the guests that we have coming on and I guess some of the promo that we give certain players and athletes and people that I’m involved with. I think it’s a benefit not only for me but for everybody involved.”

The hour-long special is part-talk show taped at the San Jose Improv with fans as the audience in San Jose, California. Subban’ guests will include Jay Leno, comedian and TV host W. Kamau Bell, country singer Lee Brice, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe, Columbus defenseman Seth Jones and 13-year-old hockey player Ty Cornett.

The show also includes live comedy sketches by Subban along with segments featuring Subban at a jam session with Brice and a recent visit with his family in Toronto. Subban gave no hint of the topics that will be covered, saying only to tune in and watch.

”There’s definitely some things that I’m going to talk about in my monologue that I’m sure that people will get a good kick out of, and that’s the whole point of watching it,” Subban said. ”Hopefully enough people think enough about the show to tune in and see the interviews with the guests, the skits that we’ve done and the work that’s been put into the script.”

Television is nothing new for Subban. NBC Sport producer Sam Flood said they learned what a great communicator the defenseman is when Subban worked the final game of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

”He worked well with Mike Tirico, was involved in an interview with the commissioner, and it was fun to see,” Flood said.

That led to further talks between NBC Sports Group about how to showcase Subban without interfering with his top priority, the Nashville Predators. They announced the All-Star special and ”The P.K. Project” digital series earlier this month. The first episode of “The P.K. Project” just debuted giving viewers a look into his personal life.

”P.K. is doing a wonderful job working with our team to get some unique content and content that only could happen with his relationships and his personality,” Flood said.

The All-Star special and ”The P.K. Project” work around Subban’s schedule. Subban said players are at the rink for about three hours a day, leaving them with plenty of free time. Away from hockey, Subban said he has plenty of other interests keeping him busy including food, fashion and television.

”Just because the person next to me doesn’t think that they can host their own show doesn’t mean that I can’t,” Subban said.

To the 29-year-old defenseman who made his NHL debut in February 2010 with Montreal, what matters is finding what works for himself. Subban knows some people might criticize him spending time on something other than his Predators’ job, which pays him $9 million a year through the 2021-22 season.

”But some people do other things because it makes them better at their job,” Subban said.

Starting his own production company – PeeK Productions – is something Subban has wanted to do for a long time.

”Now to be able to own the content that I’m doing and develop it and have a team and put out meaningful content that you can see and own it was a priority for me and my team,” Subban said. ”I’m very excited about today and moving forward.”

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed to this report.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
NBC Sports Group will present P.K. Subban’s All-Star Special, Friday, January 25, at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, immediately following the conclusion of the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills.

Predators’ Subban accuses Golden Knights’ Bellemare of biting him

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We (allegedly) have a biter.

At least P.K. Subban seems to think so, and the video suggests something happened based on Subban’s reaction. What actually occurred late in the second period on Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN, or perhaps the severity, is still up in the air.

The incident happened in front of the Nashville net with less than a minute left in the frame. Juuse Saros had covered up the puck and Subban was engaged with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. The former had his hand over the latter’s face. Not long after, Subban pulled away, shaking off his glove and grabbing his fingers.

Skating back to the Predators bench, Subban appeared to be pleading his case with Vegas’, making a few chomping motions.

He then tried to make his case to the referee, who didn’t see the incident, nor did any of the linesmen. Subban appeared to have blood on his jersey and some sort of cut on his hand right hand.

“I mean, he bit me. My finger was bleeding,” Subban said after the game. “All I tried to do was grab him. I grabbed him by his head to pull him up and he bit me. That’s it.

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how I walk out of there with four minutes in penalties. It wasn’t explained.”

Subban said the refs tried to apologize after the penalties were doled out.

“My finger is bleeding, like I don’t know what you want me to do,” he said.

Related: A look inside P.K. Subban’s life

A shot of Bellemare on the bench following the incident showed him suggesting that Subban had his hand in his mouth and was pulling up on Bellemare’s face.

“I ended up with an entire glove in my mouth and I’m like choking so obviously when he put his hand in there he removed my mouth guard and then he tried to pull me up so he gets my teeth and then he’s acting on it,” Bellemare said after the game. “He started yelling like ‘I bit him, I bit him.’ I mean, I don’t know what you have in your mouth but like if you put all of your hand all the way through and you pull up you are going to feel the teeth, I’m like, ‘What the f— is he doing?’

“I mean, I don’t know why he’s going absolutely crazy there. I don’t know what to do with this situation, I have a half glove in my throat and playing with the back of it and pulling me up and there was no mouthguard so it’s like those are my teeth.”

Bellemare was a little lost for words but found enough of them to take a shot at Subban.

“It’s like, am I surprised? Not really,” he said.

Bellemare was not penalized on the play. Subban, however, was — for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct following an altercation with Ryan Reaves not long after the bite.

Subban left the game to get repairs but returned for the third period.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck