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Canadiens Notebook: Lightning have chance to win Cup on Montreal ice – Montreal Gazette

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The Calgary Flames are the only visiting team to ever beat the Canadiens on Forum ice to win the Stanley Cup in 1989.

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There is only one visiting team that has ever beat the Canadiens on home ice at the Forum to win the Stanley Cup.

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That was the Calgary Flames in 1989 when they won the best-of-seven series in six games, winning Game 6 by a 4-2 score.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to become the first visiting team to win the Stanley Cup on Montreal ice since then when they play the Canadiens in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Bell Centre (8 p.m., CBC, SN, NBC, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Lightning have a chance to become the first team to sweep a Stanley Cup Final since 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings won four straight against the Washington Capitals.

“We don’t want to see the Lightning with the Stanley Cup at all,” Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry said Sunday when asked about the possibility of the Lightning winning the Cup at the Bell Centre. “You’re not going to win four games by winning one tomorrow. Our goal is to win tomorrow’s game and deal with flying out and preparing for a game in Tampa when that time comes. Our focus is to make sure that we play the right way, a strong, hard game and win one game tomorrow.”

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If the Canadiens win Monday night, Game 5 would be Wednesday night in Tampa.

After losing Game 3 by a 6-3 score on Friday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens had an off-ice training session Saturday at the Bell Centre and were on the ice for a practice on Sunday.

“I think it helps give us a day yesterday to kind of reset and refresh and then today we were working on a few specialty teams and getting on the ice and had a meeting this morning,” Petry said. “I think it was a good day yesterday to kind of reset, refresh and make sure that we’re ready to take this challenge head on.”

Petry added that the Canadiens are trying to keep the mood light and have a positive attitude heading into Game 4.

“Still have fun coming into this rink every day and not hang our heads,” he said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us. We’ve had a challenging year all year. So just to come in and enjoy it every day has been the message. I think everyone is in good spirits today.”

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The New York Rangers also won the Stanley Cup on Forum ice in 1928, beating the Montreal Maroons to win the best-of-five series 3-2 with a 2-1 victory in Game 5.

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A ‘special group’

This Canadiens team has been through a lot this season, including head coach Claude Julien, associate coach Kirk Muller and goalie coach Stéphane Waite all getting fired.

Joel Armia tested positive for COVID-19 in March, shutting the Canadiens down for more than a week because of NHL protocol. When the Canadiens returned to action, they had to play their final 25 games in 44 days and then they fell behind the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in their first-round playoff series before winning in seven games. They head coach Dominique Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19 and had to spend 14 days in isolation at his Montreal home with assistant coach Luke Richardson taking over the head-coaching duties.

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“I’ve been saying it for a while now, even before the playoffs,” Ducharme said. “During the regular season we faced a lot of adversity and we said — I said — that we have a great group and that group has grown stronger together throughout those moments and adversity and facing those situations. We show it every day and sometimes we lose a game or it doesn’t go exactly like you wanted, but there’s one thing that’s for sure: it’s not a lack of trying, it’s not a lack of will. And our guys are dedicated to the group and they showed that yesterday again, today, and they’re going to put it on the ice tomorrow.”

Josh Anderson said the Canadiens are a “pretty special” group.

“All the guys in this locker room, the management, the staff, the players, it’s a family,” he said. “It’s a bond that the guys have been through a lot during this year and we’ve been through it together, but we’ve stuck together and we’ve made it this far. So we got one more job to do and that’s all to come together and just take it one game at a time and keep chipping away and hopefully we’ll have success and the bounces are going to start going our way.

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“We got nothing to lose at this point so everyone’s going to be ready for tomorrow night, I can tell you that,” Anderson added. “We’re not finished yet, so take it one game at a time and come in tomorrow night ready to play.”

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Working on the power play

The Canadiens spent most of the time at practice Sunday working on the power play and Petry took Erik Gustafsson’s spot on the first unit.

That suggests that Gustafsson might not be in the lineup for Game 4, since the defenceman is considered to be a power-play specialist.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” Ducharme said when asked if Gustafsson would play Monday night. “You guys saw some power-play work today and we’ll see tomorrow about the rest.”

Petry is believed to be playing with two disclocated fingers on his right hand, which has made it difficult for him to shoot the puck.

“I think my injury has gotten better, so it’s given me the ability to shoot the puck better, harder,” he said. “Whether that has to do with it or is it just putting out a (power-play) unit that had worked previously together, that’s something that the coaching staff decided and we got some good reps in this morning. You might get one power play, you might get four. We have to be ready to go on the first one and be sharp and even if we don’t score bring momentum. So I think that was why we worked on it this morning.”

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The Canadiens are 1-for-6 on the power play in this series.

Here’s how the two power-play units looked at Sunday’s practice:

FIRST UNIT

Perry
Caufield – Toffoli – Suzuki
Petry

SECOND UNIT

Staal
Armia – Gallagher – Anderson
Weber

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First goal is huge

The Lightning have scored the first goal in the first three games of this series.

The Canadiens hope to change that in Game 4.

“I think it’s huge against any team,” Ducharme said about scoring first. “Especially it would be something important. But, at the same time, we cannot stop playing if you don’t score the first goal. We want to have a good start. I thought last game it’s not that we had a bad start it’s just they made us pay right away on an icing and a power play — a puck that we threw in the stands. So we need to manage the start the right way, come out dynamic, active, playing our game and getting that first goal for sure would be important.”

The Lightning had a 2-0 lead only 3:27 into Game 3.

Ducharme wants the Canadiens to get back to playing the same way they did in Game 2 when they outshot the Lightning 43-23 but lost 3-1.

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“It’s just that that game we made three or four mistakes and they capitalized on two of them and that made the difference,” he said. “But we’re going to push that to another level. So the adjustment is not major. We know what we need to do and we know it’s about executing. It’s about executing under pressure. It’s about making those plays at the right time and we know how to do it and we’ll do it.”

  1. The look on the face of Canadiens fan Peter Repasy said it all after Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final at the Bell Centre. Repasy watched the game with thousands of other fans at Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles.

    Stu Cowan: Odds are stacked against Canadiens winning 25th Stanley Cup

  2. Canadiens fan Derek Parker (bottom left) and his nephew Brandon (above him) attended Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final at the Bell Centre along with friends Robert Porco (bottom right) and his son Justin. Parker got the four tickets in a lottery for Canadiens season-ticket holders at a cost of $900 each.

    Stu Cowan: Canadiens fans happy to see a Stanley Cup Final game live

Sign up for HI/O newsletter

For all the latest on the Canadiens’ quest for their 25th Stanley Cup, sign up for our special time-limited newsletter, HI/O: Montreal’s Road to the Cup, at https://montrealgazette.com/newsletters.

The schedule

Here’s the rest of the schedule for the Stanley Cup final:

Monday, July 5 (Game 4): at Montreal, 8 p.m.
x-Wednesday, July 7: at Tampa, 8 p.m.
x-Friday, July 9: at Montreal, 8 p.m.
x-Sunday, July 11: at Tampa, 7 p.m.
x-if necessary

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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Down Goes Brown: Let's painstakingly build the worst possible team-by-team first round in NHL Draft history – The Athletic

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Last year, in the aftermath of the NHL Draft, I took on a challenge from a reader. They wanted me to come up with the ultimate first round, one where I’d use one pick from each team to create the best possible list of 31 choices. I threw in a bunch of rules to make it overly complicated and got to work, and this was the final result.

People seemed to like it. We debated the picks in the comments, readers argued about which teams got shafted, and a few of you even tried to make your own version.

And then, as always, came the request: OK, now do the same thing but for the worst picks.

Yeah, I knew this was coming. So now, as we count down to the first round of the 2021 draft, that’s what we’re going to do.

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Tokyo Olympics officially begin under spectre of pandemic – Al Jazeera English

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The opening ceremony marks the beginning of the Summer Games, delayed by a year and held under unprecedented restrictions.

The opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games has begun in Tokyo, with a blaze of white and indigo fireworks officially kicking off the quadrennial international sporting event being held under the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach were followed by a small delegation carrying the Japanese flag as they entered Friday’s ceremony, which was initially scheduled to be held about a year earlier before its postponement due to surging COVID-19 infections across the world.

The procession was followed by a moment of silence for victims of the pandemic, as well as Israeli Olympians killed during the 1972 Munich games, before the first of an expected 5,700 athletes began streaming into the ceremony.

Only a few hundred dignitaries and special guests, including French President Emmanuel Macron and US First Lady Jill Biden, were allowed into the 68,000-capacity New National Stadium after games officials decided to largely bar spectators. International and domestic fans have been banned from all venues in Tokyo.

Top sponsors, including Toyota and Panasonic, also opted not to send their representatives to the opening event, with polls showing the Japanese public remaining largely against moving forward with the sprawling gathering in which about 11,000 athletes will contest 339 medal events across 50 disciplines in 33 sports over two weeks.

Japan’s flag is carried during the opening ceremony. [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Days preceding the ceremony have been defined by positive tests among athletes, officials and their small teams of support staff amid fears the games could become a super-spreader event.

On Friday, the number of Olympic-related infections since July 1 stood at 106, dashing the hopes of some athletes who have trained for years to qualify and forcing some events to already dip into carefully tailored contingency plans designed to assure the competition can proceed.

Concerns of further infection were on full display on Friday, with some country’s teams, notably Brazil, opting to send only their flagbearers as representatives at the ceremony.

Nevertheless, hundreds of people began gathering outside the Olympic Stadium on Friday hoping for a glimpse of what is usually an opportunity for the hosting country to offer an elaborate spectacle highlighting their history and culture to audiences watching around the world.

A small group of protesters also gathered outside of the event.

Anti-Olympics protesters gather outside the opening ceremony. ‘[Issei Kato/Reuters]

Reporting from outside the ceremony, Al Jazeera’s Andy Richardson said, “There’s a sense of almost disbelief hanging around this stadium.”

“There has been so much talk about this over the last 12 months – but here we are,” he said, adding that the planners of the event have said the programme will be “sombre and in sync with the sentiment of today, what this country and the world is going through with the pandemic.”

“The opening ceremony has always been a pretty integral part of the Games in showcasing the country’s national identity, but I don’t think many host cities have had to pull off quite such a balancing act to win over such a sceptical public,” he said.

Performers are seen during the opening ceremony. [Stefan Wermuth/Reuters]

Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sought to frame the games as the beginning of a return to normalcy after a year and a half of global uncertainty as he urged the athletes “to fully demonstrate their abilities and show us their very best performances”.

“The sight of athletes aiming to be the very best in the world gives dreams and courage to young people and children and deeply moves them,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

Still, questions over the wisdom of moving forward with the games were not the only cloud to loom over Friday’s event.

In a last-minute scandal, the opening ceremony’s director, Kentaro Kobayashi, was fired on Thursday over jokes he made in the 1990s about the Holocaust.

Officials said the dismissal would not affect the programme.

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Tyler Pitlick Traded To Calgary Flames – prohockeyrumors.com

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The Seattle Kraken have completed the first trade in franchise history, sending Tyler Pitlick to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick. Pitlick was Seattle’s selection from the Arizona Coyotes last night, but he’ll end up just a footnote in the expansion saga, never playing for the team.

The 29-year-old forward scored 11 points in 38 games last season for the Coyotes but brings a ton of physicality and versatility to the table. Known more as a bottom-six option, he has moved up at times throughout his career and even has powerplay experience. Pitlick scored a career-high 14 goals and 27 points in the 2017-18 season with the Dallas Stars, and averaged more short-handed ice time than any other Arizona forward this year.

That versatility will be helpful in Calgary, though where Pitlick fits in is still to be determined. The Flames are going through a transition period after losing captain Mark Giordano last night and could be involved in several other transactions this summer. Adding Pitlick’s $1.75MM cap hit shouldn’t change much, but it does give the team a potential replacement for some of the other bottom-six options that are set to hit free agency. Derek Ryan, Josh Leivo, and Buddy Robinson are all pending UFAs.

For the Kraken, this is the first of what could be several moves to add draft capital after last night’s event. Like Vegas a few years ago, many of the names picked through expansion will never play for Seattle, instead quickly packing their bags and heading to another North American city to continue their career.

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