P.K. Subban’s Nashville Predators are playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Marc Bergevin’s Montreal Canadiens are not. From a Canadiens’ perspective, the main on-ice argument for the Subban-for-Shea Weber trade was that it would benefit Montreal in the short term, given that the 31-year-old Weber still had a few effective years in him.
To wit, in the moments that immediately followed Marcus Johansson’s decisive overtime winner on Sunday night, which saw the top-seeded Washington Capitals escape their highly competitive opening-round war with the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games, Braden Holtby readily delivered the sort of long-term franchise assessment typically reserved for the fallout of a genuine postseason struggle. Braden Holtby: "We knew they would be good. The reminder would be enough to alleviate the sting for some. But when repeated to Zach Hyman, one of eight rookies on a roster that made remarkable strides over the course of 88 games this year, he remained deadpan, unaffected.
Some of that is because this team of rookies, one year removed from a tank, was as unburdened of expectations as they burdened the Capitals. Some of that is because Auston Matthews plays like he’s 29. Had the Maple Leafs gotten a bounce or two – OK, a bounce or two on top of the bounces they had in the rest of the series, right through Auston Matthews’s Game 6 goal – and advanced, Andersen deserved the glut of praise.