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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

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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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Kyle Dubas begins Maple Leafs training camp with an Intro to Tragedy 101 lecture – The Globe and Mail

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General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on from the draft floor prior to Round Two of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal on July 8.
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At this point, you sort of feel sorry for Kyle Dubas every time he talks.

What’s he going to say that will change anybody’s mind? And given that impossibility, why does he have to keep saying it?

But the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager keeps getting pushed out on stage at the end of a sword. Once there, he keeps saying the same silly things. He was out there again this week as training camp started, doing this semester’s first lecture of Intro to Tragedy 101.

“Nobody wants to hear us talking about it,” Dubas said. “They want to see us do.”

Fair enough. Under the circumstances, not bad.

Then, not one minute later: “Our goal is not to win one round. It’s to win four.”

There you go talking about it. How about you win one round and then start lipping off about how you’ve got the big one right there in your sights.

At this point, you sound like a guy who’s just booked his flight to Kathmandu, looks off in the general direction of Everest and says, “Just a few more steps.” Maybe get to base camp before you start setting your intentions in front of the class.

This is the conundrum of modern sports communications. You don’t want to say nothing, because people will fill the void for you. But anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of media law.

Nobody’s good at explaining losing, but right now no one is as bad at it as the Leafs. Their answer to everything is that meme of a cartoon dog drinking coffee in the midst of a house fire saying, “This is fine.”

Has that dog been copyrighted? Because he should be the new Leafs mascot. Then they can send him out to do the talking.

To varying degrees, everyone on this team is trapped in a conversational loop from four years ago.

“We’ve obviously been right there,” captain John Tavares said.

To whom is that obvious, exactly? And how are you defining “right there?”

“We’ve established ourselves as an elite team in this league,” head coach Sheldon Keefe said.

I’ve just realized the perfect thing to get the Leafs for their birthday – a dictionary.

First thing you do, look up the words ‘established,’ ‘elite’ and, just for kicks, ‘team.’

Everybody’s bad at it, but the weight falls on Dubas. He’s the boss, plus he wears glasses. So he must know what’s going on.

Once one of the more forthcoming, three-dimensional GMs in hockey, Dubas’s public persona has been beaten flat by years of failure. He still sounds excited, but excited about talking so fast, for so long, that there is the slim possibility he may avoid facing more questions.

When he gets one he doesn’t have a great answer to (ie. a lot of them), he retreats into hockey boilerplate.

Why do you like this team, someone asked (an inside-out way of asking the more interesting question – why don’t you dislike this team?).

“Everything they are doing now is about winning,” Dubas said.

What were they doing before when, you know, they were losing? Was that about winning, too? When I’m in my car, is everything I’m doing about driving, even when I’m wrapping it around a phone pole?

‘Leafs disease’ – that’s what they used to call losing on the steady with no hint of an intention to change. The virus has mutated. Leafs disease is now a condition whereby rampant verbosity replaces results.

The miserable teams of Leafs yore knew enough to hang their heads when things were going sideways. This team believes the answer to every disaster is to schedule a TED Talk called Losing Your Way to Victory.

The sentences are a problem, but the presentation may be worse.

Has there ever been a more mirthless pro sports organization? When it gets dark for other teams in other sports, a few of them are able to triangulate the ridiculousness of treating who wins this or that game like a real-world problem.

Not the Leafs.

No jokes. No little asides. Absolutely zero capacity to laugh at themselves, from any member of the organization.

To be fair, this isn’t just a Toronto problem – it’s a hockey problem. But it’s still a shame. Canadians are supposed to be funny and hockey is meant to be a retreat from real life. A little gallows humour might put this team’s situation into perspective. It might even win you some credit for having your priorities straight.

Instead, the Leafs have confused solemnity for seriousness. That doesn’t leave them any room to say, “Listen, I didn’t blow that play. I was trying to wave at my mom in the crowd as the puck drifted between my skates” when things go wrong.

They have figured out one thing – that no one is going to believe this team is for real until the second after it proves it is.

That moment cannot arrive until the third or fourth week of April (though it can certainly be disproven before then).

That leaves the Leafs with seven months of sound bites to fill. When you lose three in a row, “four rounds,” “proved we are elite” and “been right there” is not going to work. You’ve set yourself a standard both so high and so hard to credit that you have no rhetorical wiggle room. All you can do is repeat the same affirmations while your audience turns into 20,000 hecklers. That’s a lot of pressure.

So forget about the playoffs. If the Leafs can make it to December without at least one of them cracking it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

The obvious solution – from here until April, don’t say anything. If you feel you must, hire Rick Mercer or Ali Hassan as your next assistant GM. I’m not sure how big they are on hockey, but they will vastly improve the entertainment value of your excuses.

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Alek Manoah the man as Blue Jays score big bounce back win over Rays – Toronto Sun

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was no panic in the Blue Jays heading into what sure felt like a significant Saturday date at trippy Tropicana Field.

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There was growing frustrating, however, as the twists and turns of the American League wild-card race were headed in a direction they would have preferred to avoid.

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Enter the beast that is Alek Manoah, whose competitiveness is surpassed only by his talent and continuing emergence as one of the best pitchers in the AL.

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The burly right-hander delivered seven-innings of shutout ball — dominating at times and grinding when needed in others — as the Jays delivered a 3-1 win over their pesky nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He’s a bulldog, man,” said second baseman Whit Merrifield, whose three-run homer in the seventh inning provided all the Jays offence. “He gets the ball when the team needs him. This was a big game for us. This place has given us trouble this year.

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“Big Puma threw a big game for us.”

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Just as it has been throughout the season — a campaign that has now reached 30 starts — Manoah is the man the team leans on to restore order when needed most.

And in a contest that felt like a playoff preview, Manoah was money.

“I think every game right now is of huge importance,” Manoah said of how much the post-season scent is firing him up. “Every game right now kind of feels like a playoff game. There’s a lot to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.”

The prospects of Manoah pitching games of heightened importance has to be tantalizing for the Jays, especially given how his teammates seem to feed off his efforts. On Saturday, he was dealing through an outing in which he tossed a season-high 113 pitches and striking out eight Rays batters while limiting the Rays to four hits.

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In his last seven starts, Manoah has allowed just six earned runs over a span of 48 innings. He has now lowered his ERA to 2.31 while improving his record to 15-7.

The 2022 all-star served up just the type of effort the Jays needed against a Rays team that had taken the first two games of this four-game set. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak and with 10 games remaining in the season, allowed the Jays to reclaim top spot in the wild-card spot, a game up on the Rays.

“He’s putting together a really special year for a young guy and tonight was just another example of one of the premiere pitchers in the game right now,” manager John Schneider said.

“I think he’s proven it to where he’s up for the big games. He’s up for bit spots and challenges like this.”

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While offence was at a premium in a stellar pitching duel between Manoah and the Rays Drew Rasmussen, a suddenly heating up Merrifield broke through for the Jays in the seventh inning.

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As for Manoah, he’s now thrown seven consecutive quality starts and 24 overall, the most by a Jay since Ricky Romero dealt 25 in 2011. In those last seven starts, his ERA is a skimpy 1.13.

And as we’ve seen throughout his young career, he’s clutch when he needs to be, holding the Rays to 0-5 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.

“These guys have been battling all year, picking me up,” Manoah said. “It’s my job to go out there and pick them up when I can.”

TROP TROUBLES

As the Jays remain locked in a game-at-a-time approach, there’s no denying the urgency Saturday’s game carried — and it starts with the crazy things that happen so regularly at the Trop.

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The Jays are just 3-5 at the quirky indoor stadium and have grown frustrated at the ways they’ve let games get away from them here over the years.

“I don’t think we’re the only team walking in here or going out of here going ‘WTF,’” Schneider said. “It’s something you’ve got to work around as best you can.”

The Jays, of course, have had trouble doing that against a Rays team that clinched the season series with wins here on Thursday and Friday, and thus hold the tiebreak should the teams be locked at the end of the regular season.

Earning home-field advantage is always a thing worth pursuing, but especially when it eliminates a return here for a best-of-three wild-card clash two weeks down the road.

“It’s definitely an interesting place to play,” Jays third baseman Matt Chapman said. “It’s just different in every way and takes some adjusting and getting used to.”

ROMANO TO THE RESCUE

Closer Jordan Romano was called upon for a four-out save and got the job for number 35 on the season, moving him into solo possession if the eighth most in a season by a Jays reliever.

It was an important bounce back for Romano, who had suffered blown saves in each of his two previous appearances. The Markham, Ont. native got back on track in style as well, striking out three to secure the win.

  1. Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah pitches to the Baltimore Orioles during the  first inning at Rogers Centre on Sept. 18, 2022.

    Blue Jays adjust schedule to have Manoah armed and ready for post-season

  2. Ottawa Senators forward Tyler Motte (14) breaks away from Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (34) before scoring during the third period at Scotiabank Arena.

    SNAPSHOTS: Senators take back half of split-squad series with Maple Leafs

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Flames’ Elias Lindholm adjusting to life without old linemates – Sportsnet.ca

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CALGARY – There had to be moments this summer when Calgary Flames centre Elias Lindholm wondered if it was something he said.

After anchoring the NHL’s hottest line last season, the Swedish star watched from overseas this summer as both his linemates took turns departing the organization.

And while Flames fans rejoiced when Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk were replaced by the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar and Nazem Kadri, the orphaned centre knew he’d return to Calgary with plenty of unknowns surrounding his new wingers.

While the hockey world is expecting the man on his left will be Huberdeau, coach Darryl Sutter said a few weeks ago the first piece of the puzzle will be determining if the longtime Panthers playmaker fits better with Lindholm or Kadri.

Huberdeau, Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli have spent the first three days of camp together, and while all three are optimistic they’ll find chemistry together, Lindholm shrugged when asked if he’s felt it yet.

“Honestly, the drills we’re doing out there, it’s tough to create the chemistry, ” he said.

“But he’s a good player and good players are easy to play with. It’ll be kind of fun to get games going soon. And we’ll see from there.”

The trio didn’t get much going in Saturday’s scrimmage and is hoping to start the process Sunday night when the Flames host Vancouver to open the pre-season with a split-squad game.

So, what’s the key to trying to find some semblance of the magic Lindholm had with his previous pals?

“Just have fun out there, get it going and get Johnny used to the new system and stuff like that,” said Lindholm, who had a career-high 42 goals and 82 points last season.

“You can tell he’s a top player in the league, with that extra poise with the puck and making plays. He seems like a real nice guy, too. I’m excited to start with him.”

Sutter believes part of building that chemistry involves getting to know one another off the ice as well.

“It’s no different than having your friends at school – same idea,” said the coach.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the club’s summertime calamity, Lindholm was asked what he thought of losing both his wingers.

“It was a rollercoaster for sure,” he laughed.

“Obviously Johnny had an opportunity to go somewhere else and Chucky wanted a new challenge and to try something else. That’s the NHL, that’s the business part of it.

“I thought the management did a really good job to put us in a good position and have a really good team this year again.”

BIG FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Flames have their first standout of training camp, and not just because he’s six-foot-eight and 245 pounds.

Adam Klapka picked up from where he left off at the team’s prospect camp by opening Saturday’s first red and white scrimmage with a snipe that had the dozens in attendance murmuring.

Entering the offensive zone with plenty of speed, the towering right winger stuttered the defenceman with a sweet move before roofing a snapper short side on Dustin Wolf, a netminder he has 75 pounds on.

The sequence had everyone on Team White’s bench buzzing.

“He was pretty awesome out in Penticton too — he was the best player in that camp for our group,” said Sutter of the 22-year-old Czech winger, who was signed to a two-year entry level deal this summer.

“For a big man he moves really well. Usually big guys like that, when you think of NHLers that size, a lot of times it takes two or three years for their skating to catch up with their body, and vice versa. Right now that doesn’t appear to be an issue.”
Shockingly high praise from the boss.

Klapka was signed in May after scoring six goals and adding 12 assists in 44 games for Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech Republic League.

Prior to that, the undrafted Prague native spent two seasons with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.

As green as he is, no one is expecting him to challenge for an NHL roster spot this season, but his size and right shot make him an intriguing add for the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers this year.

SCRIMMAGE NOTES

The game ended 2-1, with Clark Bishop and Sonny Milano scoring for Team Red, with Cody Eakin making a nice play behind the net to set up Milano, his fellow PTO participant. Klapka’s goal was the lone marker for Team White … Goalies Dan Vladar, Oscar Dansk and Wolf rotated at both ends of the ice throughout the scrimmage, including several changes on the fly … After a full period of 5-on-5 play the two teams played a shorter second period of 4-on-4 before returning to 5-on-5 for an abbreviated third … Nikita Zadorov drew plenty of attention with his physicality, while Klapka’s goal and hands stood out in the skill department … Matthew Phillips, who is still listed at an unfathomable 140 pounds, still has the silkiest of mitts, and is a pleasure to watch with the puck … Notables who didn’t dress included Chris Tanev and Kadri, who will be used sparingly throughout camp, as well as injured Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington (absent from camp due to personal reasons). Jacob Markstrom was also given the day off … Only a smattering of fans were in the building, as the organization held a seat purchasing event for Wranglers tickets.

SATURDAY’S LINE COMBINATIONS

Team Red
Huberdeau-Lindholm-Toffoli
Dube-Backlund-Coleman
Eakin-Zary-Milano
Sutter-Bishop-Duehr
Hanifin-Andersson
Mackey-Weegar
Poirier-Poolman

Team White
Lucic-Rooney-Ritchi
Pelletier-Ruzicka-Phillips
Pospisil-Schwindt-Lewis
McLain-Jones-Klapka
Zadorov-Meloche
Valimaki-Stone
Gilbert-DeSimone

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