Subban gets Tugnutt’s point
Critique of goalie between periods spurs better play
UFA, Russia • He’s part mentor, part psychologist — as most goaltending coaches are — so Ron Tugnutt has a pretty good idea of what Malcolm Subban can and can’t do in the Canadian net.
“He’s the type of goaltender who can brush off a bad situation, he’s able to deal with it mentally. That’s why I think he’s got the right mindset to be our guy,” Tugnutt began by saying after an off-day practice at Ufa Arena where Canada is camping out during the world junior hockey championship.
“He’s got the ability to continually get in position with the lateral movement. He’s the fastest guy,” continued Tugnutt. “He can get into position a lot quicker than the other guys.”
Tugnutt has been tutoring Subban and Jordan Binnington of the Owen Sound Attack during the practices and working with Jake Patterson before the sessions. During the games, he’s keeping an eye on Subban, who started Canada’s games against Germany and Slovakia.
The netminder, who will eventually move on to the Boston Bruins organization, was told the job in Canada’s net was his to lose. But if he finishes the tournament as the starter, he will be the exception. Not since 2007, when Carey Price was in net, have questions not dogged the goaltenders in this tournament.
“They haven’t experienced this kind of pressure before but it’s not as bad in Russia as it would be back home,” Tugnutt said. “(But Subban) is loose. I’ve watched his demeanour before games. It will be interesting to see when we get to those big games he stays the same way.
“For him, it’s continually talking to him about being focused. I said that from start to finish you need to be focused.”
In the opening 9-3 win over Germany, Subban was admittedly not at his best in the first 40 minutes, drawing a visit from Tugnutt in the second intermission.
Tugnutt said he had talked to all the club coaches to get a read on the traits of the goalies. He had asked Subban’s coach in Belleville if he liked to talk between periods.
“I said can I be firm on him? Do I rub his back? What do I do?,” Tugnutt continued. “So I get some insight from their goalie coaches. I just felt there was something he wasn’t doing that he needed to and I was a little bit firmer on him, which I hadn’t been before. And he responded with a really good third period.”
One of the most endearing qualities of the people in Ufa is that when you find someone to help you, they will go out of their way to do so.
Take the plain-clothed police officer who offered to take four snowbound journalists from their hotel to the rink on Thursday morning. Over a foot of snow had fallen on the city the night before, making it impossible for the hotel assistant to get us a taxi.
Enter the officer with the black Mazda, a car that was coated with a distinctly different finish — bullet proof perhaps? — and sporting a Mafia Wars air freshener on the rear view mirror.
There was also a silver service revolver and a Thermos on the back seat, the former of which ended up in the hands of a timorous Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun. He carefully handed the weapon to the officer, who tucked it into the side pocket of the driver’s door and dismissed it as “just a toy.”