WILMINGTON — At one end of the rink these days is Tuukka Rask, his white pads splayed on the ice with their lines of black and gold. At the other is Malcolm Subban, his black pads laced with their own gold markings, the black extending down from his jersey to his skates.
It’s a different look for the rookie goalie, one that he thinks gives him an advantage.
“I obviously like it because it looks cool,” Subban said earlier this week. “I love it. I think it looks pretty sick. Some people say you look bigger in white pads, but a lot of shooters say it’s more intimidating, like they feel like I look bigger in black pads.
“I don’t know if it’s because they’re not used to seeing it or because it just attracts your eyes. If you have the white pads, it just blends in, so if anything you can see the posts more, I feel. But if you have the black pads, it just sticks out a lot, so it makes you appear bigger in the net.”
Most of the NHL goes with white pads. The idea is that the goaltender blends in much better, with the ice, the netting, so it’s harder for shooters to figure out where to shoot.
But that’s not the way Subban looks at it. He has worn black pads since his second year in the OHL, though he switched to white last season, his first in professional hockey. He wanted to wear black, but goalie coach Bob Essensa advocated white.
Subban complied. But he wasn’t happy with the move.
“This year I’m like, ‘You know what, I’m going to go back,’ ” he said.
There are pros and cons to both, Subban acknowledged. And it didn’t seem as if shooters — at least the few polled by the Globe Friday — had a preference.
“Not really,” Brad Marchand said. “I guess for the black pads, maybe the net would show up a little bit more in the background. But it doesn’t really matter. Both goalies are so big and so quick, you just try to shoot and hope it goes in. You’re not really picking a spot.”
When apprised that Subban believes the black pads make him look bigger, Marchand joked, “I think black is supposed to make you look smaller, no?”
Said Torey Krug, “I’ve never really thought about it. If you think about it, maybe his pads look a little bit bigger if they’re black.
“If you’re a defenseman battling in front, if there’s a loose puck, sometimes you can’t find it. For forwards, they can’t find the puck. Even for the goalie, if they’re looking to cover it, I feel like it would be a little bit difficult.”
For Subban, at least, wearing the black pads appears to be mostly a mental boost. He feels better in them, so perhaps he is better. As Marchand said, “I eat salmon and spaghetti because it makes me feel good on game days. Other people might eat Skittles.”
But Subban believes there is a rational basis for the decision, too. He thinks.
“If you put me in the net on the goal line, obviously you’ll be able to see the holes easier,” Subban said. “But no shooter is going to be looking that fast. It’s more out of the corner of the eye or a quick look. When you look up fast, you’re just attracted to what you see, which is my equipment, so I don’t know. It goes both ways.”
So far, though, Subban is happy with his return to the black pads. Until he’s told he can’t wear them, he’s sticking with the color.
“It’s just what I’m used to, I guess,” he said. “I’m more comfortable in black gear. When I have the white, I feel weird.”
Adam McQuaid had yet another scary moment in practice Friday. He was struck with a puck on the right side of his neck and went down immediately. He eventually got up and continued through the rest of practice.
The defenseman has become a valuable piece for the Bruins since he returned from his broken thumb Jan. 3, though he and Dennis Seidenberg both struggled in the game against the Rangers Wednesday.
“I think he’s been pretty good since he’s come back from that injury,” said coach Claude Julien. “I think last game was a tough game for him. He had a tough night, he and his partner. Those things happen.
“The biggest thing is to rebound back and have a solid outing the next time out. To me, I think people have noticed how good he’s been for us since he’s been back in our lineup and how he’s played big minutes.
“We have to pride ourselves as a team on having basically a top four that when you don’t have the final changes on the road, you can rely on them. They’ve been reliable. Last game was an off-game for them, but those two guys have been reliable for us in that fashion.”