Tensions were high at the Montreal Canadiens' practice Monday morning on Long Island after being snowed in, as rookie defenceman P.K. Subban got into heated arguments with a pair of teammates.
The 21-year-old - a healthy scratch for the fifth time in the past 12 games on Monday - appeared to take out some frustrations out on Tomas Plekanec during battle drills before jawing with Maxim Lapierre.
While the confrontation with Plekanec was described as nothing more than players challenging each other during a drill, defenceman Roman Hamrlik was forced to step in between Subban and Lapierre before things got out of hand.
Subban, however, downplayed the confrontation.
"It's practice, it's battling. It's tough," Subban told reporters following practice. "When you're doing three-on-two drills and three-on-three, there is going to be chippy battles in front of the net. You've just got to work through it. It was a good practice today."
Habs captain Brian Gionta concurred that arguments between teammates are simply something that occurs when a player is trying to force his way back in to the lineup.
"When you are not playing you've got to practice hard and make sure you are ready for the game when you are called on," said Gionta. "I thought it was a good practice by everybody and that stuff is going to happen when you're practicing hard."
Having been a healthy scratch himself a few times this season, forward Mathieu Darche understands Subban's frustrations, but said that the team must remain focused on the task at hand.
"What's important is that we keep the same intensity against our opponents as we do against one-another," he told reporters after practice.
While he would undoubtedly prefer to be playing, Subban said that he will use this opportunity to continue to work hard and hopefully force his way back into the lineup.
"Like I said at the start of the year my mentality is to come to the rink everyday, trying to learn and get better. It's the same thing now," said Subban. "Everyday you're learning in a different way and you have to take it all in positively. Today was just another opportunity for me to go out there and get better and try and make the best of it."
While Subban has yet to be told if he will return to the lineup in time for Tuesday's game against the Washington Capitals, it's clear this is a team in desperate need of a spark. Losers of six of their last eight, Subban's sublime skating skills could give the Canadiens the jump that they're looking for.
And the Toronto native said he'll be ready if called upon.
"We have a big game coming up (on Tuesday) so we can't afford to sit back and relax," said Subban. "We've got three big games coming up here on the road and we've got to get some points."