|12.31.15 at 6:04 pm ET|
The drive from Mike Condon’s hometown of Holliston to Gillette Stadium is about 14 miles. His path to starting the Winter Classic there has been much longer.
The Canadiens rookie played at Belmont Hill School before attending Princeton, where he appeared in just four games as a freshman in 2009-10. He split time over the next two years before finally winning the starting job outright as a senior. He posted an impressive .923 save percentage that season and then signed with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign. He went on to see playoff playing time with the AHL’s Houston Aeros that spring as well.
Over the next two seasons, Condon spent time with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers and AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, continuing to post strong numbers the whole time. He continued to impress in Montreal’s training camp and preseason games this year and wound up winning the Canadiens’ backup goalie job over Dustin Tokarski.
When starter Carey Price went down with a lower-body injury in late October, Condon took over as the starter. He went 9-2-3 with a solid .918 save percentage over his first 15 NHL games (including one no-decision in relief), but then he started to struggle. He lost his next seven decisions and posted an ugly .871 save percentage during that time as the entire Canadiens team began to slide.
Condon enters Friday’s Winter Classic on a bit of a high note, though, having stopped 36 of 39 shots in a win over the Lightning on Monday. He’ll look to build on that Friday playing in front of plenty of friends and family in the home of the football team for which he grew up cheering. In fact, Condon has Bill Belichick, ‘Do Your Job’ and the Patriots’ four Lombardi Trophies on his special Winter Classic mask (photo courtesy of David Gunnarsson).
Most of Condon’s friends and family have always been Bruins fans, but he said they’ve all changed sides in the rivalry pretty quickly.
“I know all my family and friends will be wearing the bleu, blanc and rouge for sure,” Condon said. “I think the maximum number of tickets you could get was 14, so I maxed that out. Other than that, there are a lot of friends outside that are still coming. I think they’re all cheering for the Canadiens.” Read the rest of this entry »
|12.31.15 at 4:33 pm ET|
The Bruins-Canadiens rivalry may get ratcheted up a notch in Friday’s Winter Classic given the Gillette Stadium setting and national exposure. But it will also be missing one key part of its recent history, as Brad Marchand will miss the game after getting suspended for a low hit on Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.
No one is more familiar with what Marchand brings to the rivalry than Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who has had more than a couple run-ins with the pesky Bruins forward during his career.
The two have exchanged hits, punches, slashes, words and more over the years, not to mention plenty of great one-on-one play given the skill level of each player and the fact that they’re usually on the same side of the ice.
The next chapter in the Marchand-Subban rivalry will have to wait, though. On Thursday, Subban was asked if he’s going to miss Marchand.
“Well, I know Brad’s a big part of their team, so I’m sure they’re going to miss him,” Subban said. “As far as I’m concerned, I know there is a rivalry between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. I don’t ever think of playing a specific player. But obviously with the history of us playing against each other, going back to World Juniors playing with each other and against each other in the playoffs and during the regular season, yeah, there’s been some heated battles.
“But that’s just a part of the game. There are many players I can probably think of in the league that I’ve had heated battles against. But it’s unfortunate he’s not playing tomorrow.”
Subban and the Canadiens enter Friday’s game having lost 11 of their last 13. Subban said he’s hopeful that the big stage and added excitement Friday can help his team pull out of that skid.
“I think for us right now it’s about building confidence from one shift to the next shift,” Subban said. “So we have an opportunity to do that again tomorrow, and I think that this is perfect for us. A stage like this where everybody can get up for and it’s refreshed, right? Your family and friends there and everybody watching. So you want to be at your best. I think when we’re at our best, there are not too many teams in the league that can compete with us.”
Subban’s excitement did take a bit of a hit Thursday, though. He was hoping to meet Tom Brady, but things didn’t work out.
“Tom, just so much respect for him as an athlete,” Subban said. “I was hoping to bump into him today in the hallway. I was probably going to jump on him or something like that. … A player like Tom Brady is special. It would have been nice to meet him today. But we’ll have to save that for another day.”
|12.31.15 at 3:21 pm ET|
This is a story about fedoras and the genius coaches who wear them.
With coaches unable or unwilling to wear hats in arenas (perhaps because it’s impolite to wear a hat indoors), the Winter Classic gives them the option to express themselves in the classiest way possible: by wearing a nice hat.
Three of the 11 head coaches to participate in the Winter Classic, now in its eighth season, have worn fedoras. Among the Frozen Federlines is Bruins coach Claude Julien, who donned a snazzy camel-colored number with a dark brown ribbon in 2010 at Fenway Park.
Many coaches — most of them, in fact — have opted against wearing a hat. Yet there’s something that five of those six guys had that the others did not: hair.
Bald coaches typically wear hats at the Winter Classic. The only one of the three bald and/or balding coaches in Winter Classic history to not wear a hat was then-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who won his game in 2011 despite looking pretty cold.
|12.31.15 at 3:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Growing up on a farm in Alberta, hockey for Joe Morrow was outdoors. The idea of playing in the Winter Classic this season was a dream, but not one that he necessarily thought would come true.
With the Bruins having a revolving door of young defensemen this season, any one (or two) of Morrow, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman have found themselves susceptible to multiple-game press box duty. With the Winter Classic on this season’s schedule, Boston’s young defensemen could only play their hardest when put in the lineup and hope that door stopped in their favor on Jan. 1.
With Thursday’s moves, Morrow appears to be the winner. Brad Marchand‘s injury forced the B’s to demote Colin Miller to Providence in order to call up forward Alexander Khokhlachev. With Dennis Seidenberg playing the right side as Zdeno Chara‘s partner, the left-shooting Morrow practiced on Boston’s third pairing with righty Kevan Miller on Thursday.
Having played so many times outside over the years (including the 2013 AHL Outdoor Classic), Morrow said he “couldn’t be more grateful” for the opportunity to potentially play on Thursday.
“It’s a game that you mark on your schedule right from Game 1. Right from training camp, it’s something that you look forward to and you hope you’re on the roster and you hope you’re playing in it,” Morrow said. “To be able to get that opportunity is something that’s pretty special. I’m pretty grateful for it. I didn’t really see it coming, but now that it’s here and going to happen, I’m pretty excited for it. It should be a good time.”
Morrow knows it’s taken bad luck for his teammate in order for him to play. Colin Miller, who has played more games (28) than Morrow (13) or Trotman (16) had to be sent down because he was the only one of Boston’s eight defensemen who could be sent to the AHL without requiring waivers. Having become fast friends with the former Manchester Monarchs defenseman, Morrow feels for Miller. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.31.15 at 11:20 am ET|
FOXBORO — Wednesday saw Canadiens goalie and local product Mike Condon reveal quite the Patriots tribute on his Winter Classic. Tuukka Rask has done him one better, as the Bruins’ goaltenders Patriots-themed mask features the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski.
|12.31.15 at 10:57 am ET|
FOXBORO — Brad Marchand‘s suspension has created a bad ripple effect for the Bruins.
Without Marchand’s services, the Bruins were down to 12 forwards and eight defensemen for the Winter Classic. As such, they opted to send down a defensemen in order to recall forward Alexander Khokhlachev. Unfortunately for them, the only defenseman they could send down without waivers is Colin Miller, who just so happens to be one of their best defensemen.
Miller has been up with Boston all season, playing in 28 of the Bruins’ 36 games. The rookie has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points this season.
Marchand will not appeal his three-game suspension for clipping Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki. He apologized Thursday for his actions.
“I just want to acknowledge the situation that I’ve put my team in for being undisciplined and affecting the game for them, taking away from the excitement for the fans, being part of this rivalry, taking that away from them and also for affecting this game for myself and putting myself in the situation to not be part of this,” Marchand said. “I want to apologize and I truly am sorry to everyone about the situation. It was not my intent to make a hit or try to injure anyone on that play.”
With Thursday’s roster move, the Bruins’ lineup in practice was as follows:
|12.31.15 at 10:40 am ET|
FOXBORO — Look who took a twirl at Gillette Stadium before Thursday’s Bruins practice.
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) December 31, 2015
Julien and Belichick Pt. II pic.twitter.com/6et7Y1ORtl
‘ DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) December 31, 2015
“It’s always great to catch up with Bill,” Julien said. “I was fortunate enough to be a guest of his yesterday at his practice, and we walked through it, and it was nice to see him work with his team. I’ve admired him for a long time for how he handles his team, how he coaches, how prepared he is.
“We play different sports, but as coaches, I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from each other and admire from each other. And that’s the one thing I have learned from Bill is his preparation is second to none.”