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The lights went out at Toronto’s practice facility on Wednesday, but the Leafs kept skating.
Following an ugly 7-0 loss to L.A. on Tuesday, head coach Mike Babcock put his team to work, right through a power outage that forced the team to skate in the dark.
The scene, courtesy CBC:
Babcock said his players would do their “penance” at Wednesday’s practice, and indeed they did in a manner similar to the infamous scene in “Miracle” where 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) kept the team after an exhibition game to skate, putting them through a gruelling pace after a lacklustre effort against Norway.
Jake Gardiner described the practice as the toughest yet in the Babcock era, which started last season.
“We’re not playing like that,” Babcock said of Tuesday’s effort. “It’s unacceptable to play that. It’s un-Leaf-like as far as I’m concerned now and we’re not playing like that.”
Tuesday’s loss came after a fairly successful three-game winning streak, though it’s hardly Toronto’s lone blowout loss of the year. The Leafs were thumped 5-1 in Brooklyn two weeks ago, and also allowed seven goals at home in a 7-3 loss to the Lightning back on Oct. 25.
Last night’s defeat, though, was clearly something different, and wasn’t just about the ugly scoreline.
Mike Condon is hopeful his second start with Ottawa goes as well at his first.
The Sens are hoping for the same, too.
Condon, who posted a 27-save shutout over Vancouver in his Sens debut, will be back in goal tonight when Ottawa takes on the Sabres in Buffalo.
That means Craig Anderson, who made 27 saves in a 3-1 loss to Nashville last night, gets a breather.
It’ll be curious to see how long Condon can extend his shutout streak. The Sabres have really struggled scoring goals this year, and have the third-lowest GPG rate (2.08) in the league thus far, but will get a boost tonight with the return of Evander Kane, who’s back after missing 11 games with a rib injury.
Kane had 20 goals in just 65 games last year, and will jump right onto Buffalo’s top line.
As for the Sabres’ starting netminder, it’ll be Robin Lehner once again. Lehner’s played very well of late, posting a 1.81 GAA and .947 save percentage over his last five starts.
— Sergei Bobrovsky gets the nod for Columbus tonight. No word yet on a starter for the visiting Ducks.
— Both Chicago and St. Louis are rolling out their No. 1s for tonight’s Rivalry Night game: Corey Crawford for the ‘Hawks, Jake Allen for the Blues.
It’s been more than four days since Al Montoya suffered through one of the worst losses in Canadiens franchise history, allowing 10 goals in a now-infamous drubbing by Columbus.
Turns out Montoya needed all that time to compose his thoughts on the matter.
“It was a lot to process,” Montoya said, per TSN’s John Lu. “It’s good for me now. It was a tough day.”
In Montoya’s defense, it really was a lot to process.
— He went into Friday’s game with a 1.47 GAA and .955 save percentage.
— He exited with a 3.15 and .908.
— He became the first Montreal goalie to allow 10 goals in a game since Andre “Red Light” Racicot did it back in 1992.
— The Habs responded to the blowout by winning their next two games with Carey Price in goal.
What’s more, head coach Michel Therrien’s decision to keep Montoya in for the duration of the Columbus nightmare came under heavy scrutiny, and was the topic of great debate.
So it’s understandable why the backup netminder wanted to take his time, collect his thoughts and come out with some sort of party line to share with the media.
One has to think this is what Therrien and goalie coach Stephane Waite told Montoya during the game. Therrien did say Waite went to the beleaguered netminder between periods, and told him he’d be playing out the string.
Hampus Lindholm is back.
After ending his contract squabble — with a six-year, $31.5 million extension — securing his work visa and taking part in a practice, Lindholm is ready to make his season debut tonight when the Ducks take on the Blue Jackets in Columbus.
Following yesterday’s skate, Lindholm told reporters he was ready to go.
Apparently that message was relayed to Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle.
“We’ve got to get him up to game speed as quickly as possible,” Carlyle told the Ducks website. “The things we did today were pushing, shoving, defending and shooting. Probably the things he did the least of during his practice time [with Rogle, of the Swedish League].”
A crucial part of Anaheim’s defense, Lindholm scored a career-high 10 goals last year, finishing with 28 points. He averaged 22 minutes per game during the regular season, then saw that bumped to 23:34 during an opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.
We now officially know what Chicago and St. Louis will be wearing on Jan. 2.
Today, both the Blackhawks and Blues unveiled their jerseys for the 2017 Winter Classic, which will be played at Busch Stadium on the second day of the new year.
Chicago released its jerseys via Twitter:
The Blues, meanwhile, opted for the more traditional PR route.
From the club:
“We are excited to unveil our jerseys for the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Blues Chairman and Governor Tom Stillman. “In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, we are proud to pay tribute to our original uniforms and the franchise pioneers who first wore them in 1967.”
The Blues’ Winter Classic uniform is a re-creation of the club’s inaugural look from the 1967-68 season. The gear features historically-accurate fonts and team striping, a ribbed crewneck collar, the vintage blue color and the original Blue Note crest from the first season, making this an authentic design to create a true outdoor game original.
The Blues will be playing in their first-ever outdoor game on Jan. 2. The ‘Hawks, meanwhile, will be participating in their third winter Classic, the most of any NHL club.