Subban believes in Predators, stands by Game 3 prediction

Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban talks about his teams confidence and how playing at home will be a huge help for Game 3. He also reaffirms his previous claim that his team will win Game 3.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It remains the single greatest thing I’ve heard a hockey player utter into my microphone.

Covering the Montreal Canadiens during the 2014 playoffs, P.K. Subban was in the zone following a big Game 6 victory over Boston. When asked about facing a Game 7 on the road, the defenceman said: “It’s going to be great. I can’t wait for the crowd, the noise, the energy in the building. I can’t wait to take that all away from them.”

Now this? This is not quite that.

But in guaranteeing a Game 3 victory for his Predators in the Stanley Cup Final – and then doubling and tripling down on it over two off-days – you can safely assume Subban knows exactly what he’s doing.

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Taking some of the spotlight off embattled goaltender Pekka Rinne ahead of Saturday’s game? Perhaps.

Trying to get under the skin of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Possibly.

Giving his own teammates a little push? Could be.

Only Subban knows the true motivation for channelling his inner Mark Messier, and it might even be as simple as offering up an honest answer to the questions being asked.

“I just speak my mind, I speak the truth,” he said after Friday’s practice at Bridgestone Arena. “At the end of the day, I’m going to speak what I feel and I feel that our team is going to be the best team on the ice tomorrow. When we’re at our best no one can beat us.”

And, hey, let’s face it: The Predators have some room for optimism despite trailing this series 2-0. They’ve played great for long stretches – 110 of 120 minutes, according to coach Peter Laviolette – and been able to disrupt elements of Pittsburgh’s attack.

They’ve also only lost one game on home ice during this post-season.

More than anything, Subban seemed amused by the reaction his guarantee generated. Told about a debate among former players on the NHL Network, he chuckled: “I don’t have that platform to speak at a desk every day and give my opinion on somebody else’s comments and I can’t really (offer a) rebuttal.”

“After every game, there’s a winner and there’s a loser and then you turn the page,” he continued. “You know what I mean? I feel confident that our team’s going to win tomorrow, and I’ve said it, and that’s it. I mean people can break it down, dissect it, whatever they want. At the end of the day I’ve got to go out and win all my battles tomorrow – regardless of what you say in the media – you’ve got to win your battles, you’ve got to execute on the power play, you’ve got to execute on the penalty kill, 5-on-5 you’ve got to get the puck out the zone, establish a forecheck.

“That doesn’t change. We have to feel comfortable doing those things.”

Subban went on to mention that he needs to play better. The Predators have enjoyed a favourable run of possession with him on the ice in this series, but he’s only registered one shot on net – plus a goal that was called back by an offside review in Game 1.

Here in Nashville, the guarantee was largely met with a thumbs-up. They’ve embraced Subban, big personality and all.

“It’s a bold statement,” said teammate Ryan Ellis. “I mean you know P.K.’s a bold guy.”

“If a player is confident about our ability to be successful, I have no issue with that, I’m confident with our group’s ability to be successful as well,” added Laviolette, before trying to splash some cold water on the storyline. “I don’t know the exact quote that he used, but I don’t think it was that. He didn’t promise anything, I don’t believe. I do believe there’s confidence in the room.”

Ultimately, Subban was staying on message.

A few steps to the right of his locker is a team motto written in bold lettering: “We are what we believe we are.”

Well, P.K. believes in his Preds.

He believes they’re going to win the biggest game ever played inside these city limits and turn this into a real series.

“But it’s not about me, it’s about the team,” said Subban. “If I say something about our team and somebody wants to dissect it and make it about me then fine. I mean the reality is there’s at least 15 other players in here doing media, you know, so you don’t have to take my quote. But if you choose to then go ahead. I mean I don’t care. I said we were going to win the game and I believe that.”

Looking back, it’s worth remembering how that Game 7 played out in Boston three years ago: Subban and the Habs went into TD Garden and won 3-1.

They took it all away from them.


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