MONTREAL – These are crazy people playing a crazy game under crazy circumstances flying into crazy weather in an attempt to pull off the craziest upset of all.
Consider, for a minute, the gauntlet these Montreal Canadiens have run, the odds they’ve bucked to claw within a three-game winning streak of winning it all.
As the 18th-placed regular-season team, they only barely qualified for the post-season, finishing with a negative goal differential (minus-9) and two fewer wins than a non-playoff squad in their own division (Calgary).
They fired one coach and lost another to a two-week quarantine at the most important time of year. Their interim needed an interim.
One of their most celebrated (and criticized) hometown stars, Jonathan Drouin, left the scene after 44 games and two goals for personal reasons.
Their leading scorer from 2019-20, Tomas Tatar, is working on a sixth consecutive week of healthy scratches and will likely never wear bleu, blanc et rouge again.
And in the midst of a virus smashing their schedule into a 63-games-in-137-days marathon, they’ve somehow survived a 3-1 series deficit to Toronto and a 1-0 hole to Vegas.
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It is helpful to remind yourself of where these Canadiens have been to understand their unflustered response to where they’re going Tuesday: a private jet into the eye of Tropical Storm Elsa, set to knock Tampa with severe gales, heavy rainfall and flash flooding.
“Backs against the wall, wind in our face,” Phillip Danault said.
Danault was talking about hockey, but with the metaphorical turning literal, coach Dominique Ducharme is shrugging it off like a guy who won’t bother packing an umbrella for Game 5.
“Yeah, it’s no surprise anymore. I think anything that happens right now and for a while, we just take it and look at it, and say it’s probably part of our destiny,” Ducharme said Tuesday morning.
“It’s been crazy. But we’re a crazy bunch of guys in here, and we’re going to take that challenge.”
Meeting that challenge will require a recipe similar to the one Montreal followed on Monday: punishing physical play on Tampa’s star forwards, superb penalty killing, scoring the first goal, and Carey Price acting like it’s gold, not silver, on the line.
Do all that and, hey, maybe we’ll see Tampa mayor Jane Castor wishing for the Lightning to lose Game 6 at Bell Centre so they can win the Stanley Cup at home in Game 7.
“You never know,” Montreal icon Guy Lafleur told Ron MacLean Monday night. “The confidence builds up, and you never know what’s going to happen.”
One win is enough to save face, but not enough to plant doubt in a champion like the Lightning. But two wins? That’s another story.
“A victory in Tampa could have this effect even more,” Ducharme said. “We want to come back to play at the Bell Centre for one last game.”
Yet in a Canadiens season when the unthinkable has become commonplace, stealing a game in Tampa seems perfectly within reason at this point.
“This whole season has been kind of chaotic, kind of hectic. We’ve kind of gone through everything, between COVID, the way we played some nights to everything,” Corey Perry said. “And now, yeah, you’re right, we are potentially going into a hurricane.
“Dom said it right: We’re a crazy bunch of people. This is fun to do it here in Montreal, to have the city behind us, to be one of the last two teams standing. You know, this is what you dream of as a kid.”
You can’t write this stuff. But, go ahead: Dream it.
• Ducharme stopped short of guaranteeing he’ll roll with the same lineup in Game 5 as the one that extended his season Monday night, but bet on Jake Evans (one assist, two hits, drew a penalty on Brayden Point), Alexander Romanov (first playoff goal) and Brett Kulak sticking. “Obviously, those guys did a good job. There’s a good chance we’re going back with the same lineup,” Ducharme said.
• Injured Alex Killorn took part in Tampa’s warmup skate Monday but has yet to see game action since blocking a Jeff Petry blast with his left foot in Game 1. Asked for the umpteenth time if Killorn could dress for Game 5, coach Jon Cooper invoked the great Lloyd Christmas.
“There’s always a chance,” Cooper said. “Always a chance. What’s that movie? ‘You’re saying there’s a chance?’ Dumb and Dumber? Yeah, there’s a chance he plays. But a lot of it’s going to be up to Killer and how he feels, and so we’ll see tomorrow.”
• With Shea Weber in the box serving his double minor, nasty penalty killers Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson played the first 3:20 of overtime in Game 4 — thanks in part to Cooper’s calling a timeout and unintentionally giving them a breath.
“They’re just beasts,” Evans said. “Those two guys, you don’t want to be in front of the net with them. You don’t want to be anywhere near them. I wouldn’t want to be battling against them. They’ve just been really tough to play against.”
• The longer the series goes, the more certain we are that Nikita Kucherov wins the Conn Smythe.
Olympian Laurel Hubbard says not a transgender icon but an athlete, plans to retire – CTV News
The first openly transgender Olympian said on Tuesday she would retire from weightlifting and felt her landmark appearance at the Tokyo Games should be fast forgotten as sport takes greater strides to be more inclusive.
New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, 43, said she had never sought publicity, nor regards herself a role model or trailblazer, but just wants to be treated like any other athlete on sport’s biggest stage.
“I don’t think it should be historic. I think as we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realize that people like me are just people,” Hubbard said of her participation in Tokyo, which was among the most contentious issues ahead of the Olympics.
“We are human and, as such, I hope that just being here is enough,” she said in a rare interview with international media.
“All I have ever wanted as an athlete is to be regarded as an athlete.”
The soft-spoken, media-shy Hubbard made an unexpected early exit on Monday, eliminated 10 minutes into her +87kg contest after failures in her opening three lifts.
Hubbard, who was born male and transitioned eight years ago, competed in Tokyo under the rules of a 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) consensus on trans athletes. The IOC is currently reviewing those guidelines.
Her participation has stoked a huge debate on whether being more inclusive towards transgender women athletes means disadvantaging those born as women.
The IOC’s critics argue transgender athletes have an edge in skeletal and muscular development from being born male and say rules allowing trans athletes to contest women’s events could be abused by countries seeking to win more Olympic medals.
Advocates for trans athletes dismiss that as extremely unlikely, saying hormone therapy during transition negates perceived performance advantages.
Hubbard, who was twice the age of her competitors, said she was considering retiring because age had caught up with her and weightlifting had taken a physical toll.
“What I hope is, if I am in a position to look back, that this will just be a small part of history, just a small step,” Hubbard said.
“I really hope that with time, any significance to this occasion is diminished by things to come.”
She said she was no icon for trans athletes.
“I hope that just by being here, I can provide some sense of encouragement,” she said.
“I just hope that different people who are undergoing any difficulty or struggle … that they can perhaps see that there are opportunities in the world. There are opportunities to live authentically, and as we are.”
Save Women’s Sport Australasia, which has urged more scientific study and regulations on transgender athletes, said the IOC had been rash in determining that biological males who identify as women could compete in women’s sports.
“It feels quite wrong that New Zealander Laurel Hubbard has borne the brunt of what is quite obviously a flawed policy,” it said in a statement.
Hubbard applauded the IOC for being courageous but agreed more conversation and studies were necessary.
She believes the negative attention on her was based on emotion rather than principles and that people were reacting out of fear.
“I tried not to dwell on negative coverage or perception because it makes a hard job even harder,” she said.
“It’s hard enough lifting a barbell. But if you’re putting more weight on it, it makes it an impossible task really.”
Tokyo Olympics Day 11 Review: Andre De Grasse sets scorching pace in men's 200m – Yahoo Canada Sports
The majority of action during the Tokyo Olympics happens when most Canadians are fast asleep. While you were cozy in your bed, however, members of Team Canada were making their push for the podium.
Here’s what you missed from Day 10 of the Summer Games:
Women’s K1 200m Canoe Sprint: Andreanne Langlois qualifies for Final A
Rowing to a time of 39.952 seconds, Langlois claimed third place in Semifinal 2 to earn a lane in Final A. Fellow Canadian Michelle Russell finished with a time of 40.224 seconds, but she placed seventh in Semifinal 2 and raced in Final B.
In Final A, Langlois finished ninth with a time of 40.473 seconds.
Men’s C2 1000m Canoe Sprint: Roland Varga and Connor Fitzpatrick secure lane in Final A
The Canadian duo of Varga and Fitzpatrick captured a spot in Final A after finishing third in Semifinal 2 with a time of 3:27.145.
In Final A, Varga and Fitzpatrick placed sixth with a time of 3:30.157.
Women’s 400m: Kyra Constantine earns spot in semifinal
Finishing 21st overall in Round 1 with a time of 51.69 seconds, Constantine was the lone Canadian to advance to the semis. Country-mate Natassha McDonald placed 36th with a time of 53.54 seconds and did not advance.
Men’s 200m: Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown will race for gold
After both Canadians advanced from Round 1, De Grasse and Brown finished first (19.73 seconds) and third (19.99 seconds), respectively, in the semifinal to earn a lane in the final with an opportunity to win the gold medal.
The men’s 200m final is set to take place on Wednesday, August 4 at 8:55 AM EDT.
Women’s Team Pursuit Cycling: Canada finishes fourth in bronze final
Racing with the United States, Canada timed in at 4:10.552, which just put them off the podium with a fourth-place finish.
The U.S. won bronze, Great Britain secured silver, and Germany captured gold.
Women’s Beam Gymnastics: Elsabeth Black narrowly misses podium
Totalling 13.866 in the final, Black finished fourth in the event.
Simone Biles of the U.S. earned bronze with a score of 14.000. Tang Xijing of China won silver with a score of 14.233, and China’s Guan Chenchen claimed gold with a score of 14.633.
Men’s 5000m: Justyn Knight and Mohammed Ahmed advance from Round 1
Knight finished with a time of 13:30.22 to place third while Ahmed raced to a time of 13:38.96 to finish 13th. Both competitors advanced to the next race.
Fellow Canadian Lucas Bruchet finished 27th with a time of 13:44.08, but he did not qualify.
Women’s Duet Artistic Swimming: Claudia Holzner and Jacqueline Simoneau qualify for final
Earning a combined score of 182.7131 in the duet free routine and technical routine, Holzner and Simoneau finished fifth in the preliminary round to advance to the duet free routine final.
Women’s Hammer Throw: Camryn Rogers finishes fifth in final
Throwing an impressive distance of 74.35m, Rogers finished fifth in the final.
Poland’s Malwina Kopron captured bronze with a distance of 75.49m, China’s Wang Zheng nabbed silver with a distance of 77.03m, while Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland scored gold with a distance of 78.48m.
Women’s Beach Volleyball: Both Canadian squads ousted in quarterfinals
The defending world champions, Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, were upset in the quarters in three sets by Australia’s Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar. The Canadian pair settles for fifth place in Tokyo.
Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson were also eliminated from medal contention on Tuesday, falling to Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in three sets.
When it comes to athletic accomplishments at the Olympics, none may be better than what we saw from Warholm on Day 11.
The Norwegian star completed the 400m hurdles in 45.94 seconds, absolutely demolishing his own previous world record of 46.70 seconds.
It’s truly an incredible accomplishment, especially when you consider the fastest time of any runner in the 400m semifinal with no hurdles was 43.88 seconds at these Olympics.
Equally impressive to his race was his celebration, as Warholm was absolutely wired.
That’s a gold medal celebration.
How many medals has Canada won in the Summer Olympics?
Canada has 14 medals in Tokyo heading into Day 12.
Bronze: Jessica Klimkait (judo, women’s under-57 kg), Softball, Catherine Beauchemin-Pinard (judo, women’s 63kg), Penny Oleksiak (women’s 200m freestyle), Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens (women’s pair rowing), Women’s 4×100 medley relay, Andre De Grasse (men’s 100m)
More from Yahoo Sports
Olympic wake-up call: Simone Biles, Ellie Black inspire on beam, kayaker wins 2 gold in 1 hour – CBC.ca
In a highly anticipated balance beam final, gymnast Simone Biles of the United States won a bronze medal Tuesday, while Canada’s Ellie Black finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Both women were inspiring on the beam and throughout the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Biles was returning to Olympic competition after withdrawing from events to look after her mental health. Black had reinjured her ankle in training and dropped from the individual all-around for a shot at the beam.
Biles earned a score of 14.000 for a seventh Olympic medal, and Black delivered a powerful performance for 13.866. The 25-year-old from Halifax was tearful and embraced her coach after her performance.
China finally reached the podium in women’s artistic gymnastics in Tokyo. Guan Chenchen won gold and Tang Xijing earned silver.
Here’s what else you may have missed on Tuesday in Tokyo:
Bring on the cheers
Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.
Upcoming men’s 200-metre semis
Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Aaron Brown have both qualified to race in the men’s 200-metre semifinals.
You can watch them compete in that race, scheduled to start at 7:50 a.m. ET here.
De Grasse ran 20.56 seconds to finish third in his qualifying heat, while Brown won his own with a time of 20.38 seconds.
De Grasse took the silver in Rio 2016, with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt speeding to his third consecutive gold medal in the event. Brown raced to 16th place.
It was that semifinal that gave the world the iconic photo of the pair, with De Grasse and Bolt sharing smiles as the Canadian tried to push past him at the finish.
Sport climbing debut
It was a special moment for Canadian sport climber Sean McColl, who is among the first Olympians in the sport.
The 33-year-old from North Vancouver had advocated for sport climbing to be included in the Games, and saw his dream become a reality with its debut in Tokyo.
“I am incredibly honoured to be part of this historical group, to be forever written into the history books of [the International Federation of Sport Climbing’s] first Olympics,” he wrote on Instagram.
Fellow Canadian and family friend Alannah Yip, also from North Vancouver, will make her debut on Wednesday.
New Zealander wins 2 gold, 1 hour apart
It only took just over an hour for Lisa Carrington of New Zealand to paddle her way to two Olympic gold medals.
For a third straight time, the 32-year-old claimed Olympic gold in the single kayak 200-metre race. Afterward, Carrington and partner Caitlin Regal won gold in the doubles 500-metre event.
- Have a weird or random question about the Tokyo Olympic Games? We want to hear from you for an upcoming story: Email us: Ask@cbc.ca
Carrington set Olympic records in both.
She flew to the finish in a time of 38.120 seconds in the individual round. Then with teammate Regal, she broke the doubles time in one minute 35.785 seconds.
Women’s team pursuit finishes 4th
The Canadian women’s team pursuit squad came fourth after losing their bronze medal race to the United States.
The Americans were silver medallists in Rio 2016 and London 2012, while Canada was looking to repeat its back-to-back bronzes.
The Canadian team of Allison Beveridge, Annie Foreman-Mackey, Ariane Bonhomme and Georgia Simmerling couldn’t quite catch up to their opponent and finished in a time of four minutes 10.552 seconds.
The United States were ahead in a time of four minutes 08.040 seconds.
Canadian squads bounced from medal contention
The Canadian men’s volleyball team and women’s water polo team won’t be bringing home medals from Tokyo. Both fell in their quarter-final matches on Tuesday.
The men went down in straight sets on the court (21-25, 28-30, 22-25) to the Russian Olympic Committee. While the Canadians were hoping to compete for a medal, their match ended in a repeat of their fate in Rio 2016.
The Canadian women took on the two-time consecutive gold medallists U.S. in the pool, and lost 16-5. It was their first appearance in the Olympic tournament since Athens 2004, where the women finished seventh and didn’t reach the quarter-final stages.
Smashing a world record
Norweigan hurdler Karsten Warholm destroyed his previous world record in the intense heat and humidity of Tokyo.
It had only been a month and two days since he broke it the first time, shattering a record held by American Kevin Young that stood since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Warholm had an incredible performance in the 400-metre hurdles final, winning gold in a time of 45.94 seconds. The 25-year-old’s jaw dropped when he saw his time. He grabbed his jersey, ripping it open across his chest in celebration.
American Rai Benjamin broke the record, too, but came close behind in second.
- Have a weird or random question about the Olympic Games? We want to hear from you for an upcoming story: Email us: Ask@cbc.ca
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