NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- P.K. Subban has had a lot to say during the Stanley Cup final. But he didn't utter a word to the media Sunday in Bridgestone Arena prior to Game Six.
A group of reporters covering the series staged a "stand-in" at Subban's locker following the morning skate after a Predators PR official appeared to corral Subban in the hallway as he left the ice and instructed the veteran defenseman not to speak to the media. Not speaking after taking the skate is a violation of NHL access rules.
Subban, the center of much of the chatter around the series over the first four games, has not spoken to the media since after Game Five. He was expected to speak after Game Six.
Reporters waited for Subban for about 20 minutes before being instructed to leave when the Preds went into their daily meeting. It's clear that the "Listerine wars" that developed after Game Three, when Subban falsely said Sidney Crosby told him he had bad breath, could be at the root of the issue.
Crosby erupted for four points in the two games since and been a much bigger factor in the series. That has led to some speculation that Nashville management or perhaps teammates wanted to muzzle Subban as much as possible to not rile up the Penguins any further.
A YouTube clip of Showtime's "All Access" series on the playoffs has also emerged, showing Subban and Crosby exchanging profanities near the end of Game Three with nary a word about mouthwash uttered.
Subban did not speak after practice Saturday because the Predators said he slipped out of the building before the media entered the dressing room. An NHL official tried to get the Predators to produce Subban Sunday but the team declined to do so.
The Professional Hockey Writers Association is expected to file a formal complaint to the league on the matter and the Predators could be subject to fines for failing to adhere to the league's media policy.
Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis skated on his own prior to the team's optional morning skate and Sportsnet said he looked troubled by some sort of shoulder or rib ailment suffered in Game Five. Ellis then took the warmup to test the injury prior to Sunday's game and was in the starting lineup.
Ellis averaged more than 24 minutes per game until leaving Game Five early and was the first defenseman since 1999 to post a point in seven straight playoff games.
Anthony Bitetto or Brad Hunt, neither of whom have played in the playoffs this year, would have been called on to replace Ellis.
Sunday's game was the 213th the Penguins have played the last two years. Coach Mike Sullivan admitted prior to this one that he has taken his foot off the accelerator with his team several times this season, with the idea their goal was to still be playing in June.
"There were going to be particular challenges that we were going to have to try to navigate through, and patience was going to be a fundamental part of it," Sullivan said. "We tried to push these guys in the right direction to get the very best out of them, to hold them accountable to a certain standard because we believe that they're a competitive group and we're a good hockey team.
"But at the same side of the coin, we predicted that there were going to be challenges in the schedule where we, as a coaching staff, were going to have to make sure that we walked that line of pushing them in the right direction but also having a certain amount of patience in allowing our players to play through certain situations."
Pens forward Matt Cullen, going for a Cup at age 40 in what's expected to be the close of his career, was asked prior to the game if he was trying to savor every moment of a potential clinching game.
Cracked a smiling Cullen: "Yeah, I love you guys."
Pittsburgh center Nick Bonino missed his fourth straight game with the foot injury suffered when he blocked a Subban shot in Game Two.