Jason Brough

Mike Condon won’t be in the ‘last row of the nose bleeds’ tomorrow

FOXBOROUGH — Mike Condon is a big New England Patriots fan. He’s even got a special mask that pays homage to Bill Belichick.

But Friday he’ll be trying to win one for the visitors at the home of his favorite NFL team.

“Usually when I’m at Gillette Stadium, I’m in the last row of the nose bleeds,” Condon said today.

Tomorrow, the 25-year-old Massachusetts native will be center stage, the starting goalie for the Montreal Canadiens in the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins.

His family will be there. So will a bunch of his friends. His dad, a sergeant in the Massachussets State Police, even led the Canadiens’ escort to the stadium today.

How has Condon been dealing with all the potential distractions?

“It’s just basically laying low,” he said. “Not doing too much, not going out, not looking at your phone too much. Just trying to be as normal as possible and just concentrating on your work every day and taking care of what you can.”

It’s been a challenging month for Condon, who’s been forced into a starting role after the injury to Carey Price. The undrafted former Princeton Tiger has been between the pipes for a lot of losses, and his .888 save percentage during the month has been one of the contributing factors in the Habs’ precipitous fall in the standings.

He played well in his last outing, though, making 36 saves in a 4-3 shootout win in Tampa Bay on Monday. He was named the game’s first star. That helped him get the Winter Classic assignment over the recently acquired Ben Scrivens.

“It’s an honor for me to go out there,” said Condon. “And just at the end of the day, it’s another game, another two points.”

But, of course, it’s not just “another game.” The Canadiens are looking at Friday as a potential turning point.

“Yeah, it could change a lot,” said captain Max Pacioretty. “I think if we can pull out a good game tomorrow and get the victory, I think it could be a good jump start for things to come.”

On top of that, there’s the experience of playing in a Winter Classic.

“Playing on a stage like this is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life,” said defenseman P.K. Subban. “So really enjoy it, take it in, drink it in. We want to get the win and the two points. But enjoy the experience because it is just that, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Video: Canucks’ Hansen fined for diving


Vancouver winger Jannik Hansen is the latest player to be fined for diving.

According to the NHL, Hansen was first issued a warning for an incident in a game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 4.

Then, on Dec. 22 at Tampa Bay, he received a minor penalty for embellishment after he was interfered with by Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov.

Hansen’s fine was $2,000.

If he gets fined again, it’ll be $3,000.

Outdoor conditions could mean a Winter Classic ‘chess match’


FOXBOROUGH — The sun was shining as the Boston Bruins practiced this morning at Gillette Stadium.

And the glare was glaring.

“You notice it big time,” said Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. “Even when we were scrimmaging a bit, you make a quick move in the corner, you’re turning, you’re trying to find bodies, you’ve got to take a second to adjust. It’s tough to track the puck in the corners a bit, but both teams have to play with it.”

The glare may be less of a factor once Friday’s Winter Classic against the Montreal Canadiens gets going. The B’s practiced today at 11 a.m. Tomorrow’s game won’t start until after 1 p.m., at which point the stadium will start casting its shadow over the ice surface. There may be some cloud cover, too.

Still, Krug expects the conditions — whether it’s sun or wind or whatever tomorrow may bring — to be a factor.

“The conditions change the way you have to approach the game,” he said. “Our team really benefits from a simple style of game anyway. We try to do that regardless of what venue we’re in, but you really have to simplify. That’s taking care of the puck. It’s almost like a chess match, waiting for someone else to make a mistake, and then you have to jump on that opportunity and take advantage when it happens.”

As for the ice, Krug said it “held up pretty well,” though it was “a little bit slow” and “sticky.”

The latest forecast for Friday afternoon is a mix of sun and cloud.

The more cloud the better.

Stamkos wants Bolts to be ‘pissed off with the situation that we are in’

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 15:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates in the warm-up prior to playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 15, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Lightning defeated the Leafs 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Steven Stamkos wants his teammates to get mad. He doesn’t want them to take it anymore.

“I think we ought to be a little more pissed off with the situation that we are in,” Stamkos told reporters last night after the Lightning’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

“Hopefully we, myself included, can take these couple of days here and really start to worry about the future of this team going forward because we are running out of time.”

The Lightning — who managed just 22 shots versus the Rangers — are winless in their first two games following the Christmas break. They lost 4-3 in a shootout to Montreal on Monday. Both defeats came on home ice.

The Bolts (18-16-4) are three points back of the second wild-card spot in the East, and four points back of third place in the Atlantic Division.

“It’s very disappointing,” said d-man Anton Stralman. “We’re not good enough, playing well enough. That’s just the basics of it.”

The Lightning host Minnesota on Saturday, before leaving on a four-game road trip through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Colorado.

Could sunny skies spell bad ice for Winter Classic?


FOXBOROUGH — That’s a picture from the press box at Gillette Stadium, taken this morning at around 10:30 a.m.

As you can see, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and that’s not the best thing for ice conditions. The ideal weather for outdoor hockey is overcast and cold.

“You can be as cold as you want, but if we have sun we have a problem,” ice guru Dan Craig said a couple of years ago in Ann Arbor.

Yesterday, Craig said he was optimistic about the forecast for tomorrow’s Winter Classic.

“We’re in good shape,” Craig told the Boston Globe. “They’re telling me that we’re going to have almost a double layer of clouds here, even though it’s going to be a little bit warmer, so that’s good.”

The Bruins are scheduled to practice at 11 a.m. today, so we’ll see what they say about the ice afterwards.

The Canadiens practice at 12:30 p.m.

There’s a women’s game at 2 p.m., followed by the alumni game at 3:30 p.m.