What more can you do if you’re Malcolm Subban?
The opportunities are coming in a prove-it of season for the Vegas Golden Knights’ backup goaltender. In three starts, Subban has answered the bell. He’s gone far and above the call of duty when asked to give rest to Marc-Andre Fleury.
He’s even making saves like this in a scoreless tie early in the third period because the man desperately wants a win.
But not even these saves, showcasing the eccentric athleticism of Subban, could not prevent the Golden Knights from dropping yet another overtime game Thursday; a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
The Toronto native played against his hometown team for the first time. He made 35 saves and pitched a shutout for 48:14. Max Pacioretty’s goal at 4:08 of the third period, by way of a gift from Cody Ceci, seemed to be the only goal needed. Auston Matthews’ power-play goal at 8:14 of the third period ended the shutout and once again unfortunately showed that Subban is not deserving of good things for whatever reason.
John Tavares’ winning goal at 2:33 in overtime wasn’t an indictment of Subban’s play, but rather William Karlsson’s turnover in the attacking zone that sprung the 2-on-1 between Tavares and Mitch Marner.
“It was great. A great experience,” Subban told reporters after the game. “It would’ve been nice to get the win, but it was a great experience to finally play here.”
Malcolm Subban has faced 11 high danger chances through 40 minutes.— Ryan The Hockey Guy (@RyanHockeyGuy) November 8, 2019
His expected goals against is 2.62.
He's been absolutely fantastic tonight.
Can the offense get him a win?#VegasBorn
The Golden Knights hung Subban to dry. Vegas committed six penalties. It took six power plays before the Maple Leafs finally converted on Matthews’ tying goal. The penalty kill was superior, and has been for the past two games, going 9-for-10. That goal was the backbreaker; much like the power-play goal scored by Mathieu Perreault on Saturday to cut Vegas’ lead to 3-2 in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets.
Winnipeg rallied from two goals down to win 4-3 in overtime. Subban made 35 saves in his first start since Oct. 10 at Arizona when he stopped 12 of 14 shots. The two goals allowed were a puck going off Nic Hague’s skate, and a terrible defensive breakdown from Vegas after Nick Schmaltz landed on Subban’s leg and forced him to miss the rest of the game and the ensuing three weeks.
“He’s a huge reason why we got one point,” Pacioretty said. “He made some unbelievable saves. You saw just his athleticism and his ability to battle on those backdoor plays. We’ve had points in a few straight here, but that being said, we’ve got to clean up the overtime. It feels like we’re not even getting chances, really, or possession of the puck. We have to figure that out.”
The Golden Knights dropped to 3-4-3 against teams not residing in the Pacific Division (6-1-0 against their rivals). While they now have a point in five straight games, the result is the same: Vegas has lost three of its past five and five of its past eight. Subban has earned the right to play more games as the season continues, but how much can that be taken into account if the Golden Knights continue to lose games they should win? Vegas should be winners of five straight and their record should be immaculate. More importantly, they should have two wins for Subban.
He’ll likely get one end of the back-to-back this weekend in Washington and Detroit. Is there really any harm throwing him out there for the Capitals? Why not?
The goal is to get Fleury rest. In doing so, the pressure mounts for the Golden Knights to win with Subban in net. To this point, they haven’t done that, and it’s a disappointing countenance in what has been an up-and-down season to this point with more meh than good. It’s one thing to let him suffer by letting Calgary score seven goals on him, but giving Vegas a chance to win and not delivering is a crime.
Subban deserves better than what’s been given to him by this point. But if he keeps playing like this the wins should come, and the Golden Knights’ goaltending situation is going to win them more games than not.