MONTREAL — This is no peach of an assignment, but it’s one I must comply with, because this decade of Montreal Canadiens hockey is coming to a close and there actually were three moments from it that are truly worth remembering.
I say it’s a somewhat tedious task because to look back fondly on one of the only two decades over which the winningest franchise in NHL history didn’t manage to win a single Stanley Cup is…well…somewhat disappointing. Up against all that great history — 24 Cups the Canadiens won between the years 1919 and 1993 — it would be ridiculous to suggest anything that happened over the last 10 years would compare.
And, let’s be real, the last half of the 2010s was rife with controversy and otherwise utterly forgettable moments.
Believe me, I know. I was there for all of it.
But I was also working on each of these three momentous occasions from the first half of the decade, and what I witnessed on those nights will stay with me forever. So, with the help of some quotes, tweets and videos, I’m bringing those memories back to life as we bid adieu to the decade.
3. May 12, 2014: P.K. Subban guarantees a win for the Canadiens after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Boston Bruins
If you want to know how P.K. Subban became one of the most beloved Montreal Canadiens in history, it officially happened months before he pledged to raise $10 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
It was a gradual build from his June draft day in 2007 that percolated to a full boil on that May night back in 2014, when Subban said this about playing Montreal’s archrival, the Boston Bruins, in an upcoming Game 7 at TD Garden for a chance to go to the Eastern Conference Final: “It’s going to be great. The crowd, the noise, the energy in the building — I can’t wait to take that all away from them.”
OK, this wasn’t Mark Messier’s “We will win tonight” guarantee in the 1994 Eastern Conference Final, which the Hall of Famer backed up by scoring a hat trick to help the New York Rangers force Game 7 of their series against the New Jersey Devils. But it was a quote that was guaranteed to get plenty of play in Boston for 48 hours after our very own Chris Johnston stapled it to his Twitter profile following Montreal’s 4-0 win in Game 6 at the Bell Centre.
I mean, this was a bold — bordering on dangerous — thing for Subban to say after the Canadiens had worked so hard to erase a 3-2 series deficit to a Bruins team that had clinched the Presidents’ Trophy and finished with 17 more points in the standings than the Canadiens had accumulated. Especially since the Bruins had a league-leading 31-7-3 home record in the regular season and had beaten Montreal in two of the three playoff games at TD Garden after losing the first one in double overtime.
But Subban’s confidence in himself and the team had skyrocketed after he had five assists in a first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning and three goals and three assists through the first six games of the Boston series.
He didn’t pull back from his assertion before the Canadiens dressing room was vacated by the press. Rather, he doubled down.
“I play to win, I don’t care who’s there,” Subban said. “I don’t care if there’s nobody in the stands. I’m going there to win. It’s irrelevant to me. I hope that it’s a hostile environment, it makes it all better.”
Dale Weise, Max Pacioretty and Daniel Briere did the scoring in Game 7, but it’s fair to say the Canadiens wouldn’t have won the game 3-1 without Subban leading them in ice-time (26:17) and without his four hits and two blocked shots.
2. April 26, 2010: Jaroslav Halak makes 53 saves in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal to help the Canadiens tie their series with the Washington Capitals 3-3
OK, so we can’t pinpoint one specific moment of this game, but we’ll count the whole experience as one of the top-three moments of the decade. Because, honestly, it was one of the most surreal and epic experiences ever witnessed at the Bell Centre.
The circumstances were downright laughable, actually. Jaroslav Halak, the Slovakian netminder chosen in the ninth round of the 2003 draft, had made a grand total of 85 regular-season appearances and three more in the playoffs before being given the assignment of backstopping the 88-point, 16th-seeded Canadiens against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning, 121-point Washington Capitals. And yet, Halak got the job done through Games 1-5 to get the Canadiens to a sixth game in the series.
He had stopped 122 of 135 shots a Capitals team that scored 313 regular-season goals had managed to that point, but what he did in Game 6 will go down as one of the greatest single-game goaltending performances in franchise history.
I’d go as far to call it one of the greatest performances in NHL history, actually.
On this night, Halak stopped eight threatening Alexander Ovechkin shots; he made some 10-bell saves on noted playmaker Nicklas Backstrom; he stretched himself in all directions to block seven shots from sniper Alexander Semin; he made a combined 12 saves on Brooks Laich and Mike Green; and he came up with some of his best stuff of the soiree on the 10 shots Joe Corvo recorded.
Eric Fehr was the only Capital to sneak one through Halak. He did it on Washington’s 52nd shot of the game, with just under five minutes left.
But Halak made two more stops and helped Montreal to a 4-1 win to force Game 7.
“Huge saves. Big, big-time saves,” said Montreal winger Brian Gionta after the game. “We got two early goals, we wanted to get the lead, and then he shut the door. It was him from that point on. And it wasn’t just the amount of shots, he faced a lot of quality shots. He’s unbelievable.”
I was standing within an earshot of Ovechkin when he disagreed with that assessment.
“We make goalies feel unbelievable,” Ovechkin said. “When we played Philadelphia (two years ago), (Martin) Biron was good. (New York Ranger Henrik) Lundqvist was good last year. And this year we make Halak feel good.
“It’s disappointing, but we’ll find a way to break that and win. No panic. Nothing.”
Close to nothing is what Ovechkin and the Capitals got in Game 7, when Halak stopped 41 of 42 shots to help the Canadiens win 2-1.
That was something else, but it was nothing like what he did at the Bell Centre two nights prior.
I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like that again.
1. May 10, 2010: Mike Cammalleri breaks the sound barrier at the Bell Centre in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Pittsburgh Penguins
The press box at the Bell Centre is suspended high above the ice, and when I tell you that it was shaking so much it felt like it was going to come down after Mike Cammalleri went forehand to backhand and scored his second goal of the game — and 11th of the playoffs — to pull the Canadiens into a 2-2 tie with the defending Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the 11th minute of the second period in a must-win Game 6, I am not exaggerating.
It was, without a shred of doubt, the most hair-raising moment experienced at this arena since Saku Koivu received that incredible ovation upon his return from successfully battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2002.
That was emotional, and visceral, and nothing will ever compare to it. Ever.
But this? This was eardrum-shattering mayhem. And it felt like a full-blown earthquake in the building, with a television timeout extending the moment.
Watch the whole thing for yourself—no video could possibly do it justice — but take note of how crazy this gets from 1:42 onward.
Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly shocked when the Canadiens scored two minutes and 30 seconds after Cammalleri’s goal to take a 3-2 lead, even if the goal came from an unlikely source in defenceman Jaroslav Spacek.
Cammalleri later described the crowd’s outburst as being “like they’re giving you a little push as you go up the ice.”
That “little push” turned out to be a massive shove, with the Canadiens winning the game 4-3 and eventually taking the series with a 5-2 win in Game 7 two nights later.
Here’s what Cammalleri said about the moment when I revisited the memory with him in a telephone conversation last week:
“I remember the building just feeling like it was the centre of the universe,” he started, “you feel like at that point you’re living in the centre of the universe, like all eyes are here.
“I’ve always had such a romantic view, and that’s one of the reasons I loved playing in Montreal so much is I’ve always been a romantic about sport. I was brought up that way, and my father is that way. It’s just a romantic feeling when the crowd is that engaged, and you’re literally feeling them. You’re feeling connected to them when they’re that passionate about it in that moment. I don’t know what else to say other than it’s got to be tough for the other team. For us to come out and score after a three-minute ovation like that says something. It’s tough for the other team, and I’d say it’s great for us.”
Cammalleri’s memory of the goal that created that magical moment remains well intact.
“I just remember feeling like I got that puck after (Andrei) Kostitsyn threw it across and (Max) Talbot was covering me on that check,” he said.
“I got inside on him, I got on the backhand, and it was kind of a feeling like, ‘Hopefully (Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre) Fleury’s overplaying this,’ because that was kind of my read on Fleury was that he kind of liked to move a lot and overplay plays. I tried to be deceptive with him and always tried to go cross-grain on him, so I was thinking I could get this cross-grain on him and go backhand the other way, and he probably had pushed over and given me some exposure there. I was hopeful, and not even really looking at the net but just kind of feeling it, and it goes post-and-in and it’s like, ‘Alright, 2-2, we can beat these guys.’”
Cammalleri was feeling that, and it was abundantly clear the 21,273 fans in attendance at the Bell Centre that night were feeling it, too.
“That was a unique moment, for sure,” Cammalleri concluded.
I think it was the most unique moment of Canadiens hockey over the past decade.
Led by Adebayo, Heat’s young talent instrumental in securing Finals berth – Sportsnet.ca
Bam Adebayo scored a career-high 32 points while grabbing 14 rebounds and dropping five dimes as the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics 125-113 Sunday evening to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014.
The NBA Finals will begin Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Miami last made the NBA Finals with James still in the lineup as part of the celebrated team that made four straight Finals and won two, led by the current Lakers superstar, retired Heat legend Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
The Heat hadn’t advanced past the second round since James’ departure, but in just six seasons since he decided to head back home to Cleveland they’ve managed to re-tool and rebuild on the fly to once again compete for a championship.
Many of those pieces that have led Miami back to this point in their history took starring roles in its Game 6 victory over Boston. Here’s a few takeaways from the Heat’s big Eastern-Conference clinching victory.
Heat get it done when it matters most
Before diving into the Heat in the future, it’s worth looking back at what they did in the game that got them to the Finals first. And the most important moment from Game 6 followed a relatively consistent trend seen across all but one of Miami’s wins in the series.
Instead, what happened was a 35-17 Heat run to close the game and run right over the Celtics to punch their tickets into the Finals.
As part of that run all the key pieces of Miami’s rebuild were involved, with Adebayo scoring six points, rookie Herro dropping all 11 of his fourth-quarter points during it, Duncan Robinson drilling a couple of key three-pointers and Jimmy Butler closing things out with nine points.
Outside of the big free agent splash of Butler, all of these names weren’t the most highly-regarded around the league heading into this season, but they were all instrumental in Miami’s win.
And on the flip side of this, while the young talent of the Heat managed to rise to the occasion, the Celtics appeared to wilt under the spotlight all series long — conceding not just this six-point lead, but also a 14-point one early in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and a 15-point advantage in Game 2.
The Celtics have a lot of talent, but just couldn’t seem to rise to the occasion when it mattered most.
If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.
Bam vs. AD
Outside of his Game 5 blip, Adebayo was the best all-around player in the series, averaging a team-high 21.8 points, 11 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 60.8 per cent shooting from the floor while also coming up with highlight of the series — his game-saving block on Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt in Game 1 — and playing just overall, consistently great defence both as a rim protector and out on the perimeter.
As such, because of his rare combination of size, length, strength, athleticism and skill, his forthcoming matchup with Lakers centre Anthony Davis – who is every bit his equal in just about every category except passing – is intoxicating.
Like an old-school matchup, but in the modern era with both Adebayo and Davis exuding “unicorn” big man qualities because of their high skill level at their sizes. Davis probably has a better handle and shooting touch – certainly from outside – and Adebayo is an absolutely brilliant passer who the Heat can, and do, play out of similar to what the Nuggets do with Nikola Jokic.
This matchup is sure to be entertaining, at the very least.
“That’s my rock.”
Bam Adebayo shows love to his mother after reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in his career
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 28, 2020
Interesting stats heading into the Finals
Here’s some interesting stats from the conclusion of the Eastern Conference Finals for you to mull over:
• Though hailed as the team’s best player – and he’s still probably their most important – Butler never led Miami in scoring all series long. This is a good indication of the impact he has that goes beyond just getting buckets – despite his nickname.
• Andre Iguodala, who came up big in Game 6 scoring 15 points on perfect shooting from the field (including drilling four triples), is headed to his sixth straight Finals now. The first five, of course, were with the Golden State Warriors.
This stat is just about as impressive as the remarkable accomplishment from James who is competing in his ninth Finals in 10 years.
• Lastly, some Canadian content here for you:
Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Alexander on the Heat will represent Canada in the Finals, marking the 10th straight year a Canadian has been in the Finals.
Only seven Canadians in history have won a championship. Can these two add their names to this list?
Foles leads incredible comeback, Falcons collapse again in Bears win – TSN
ATLANTA — No matter how bad things might have seemed a week ago, the Atlanta Falcons somehow managed to make it even worse.
Yep, another epic fourth-quarter collapse.
This one could spell the end for embattled coach Dan Quinn, who already carried the burden of the biggest squandered lead in Super Bowl history.
The Falcons surrendered a 16-point advantage in the final 6 1/2 minutes to the Chicago Bears, who got three touchdown passes from backup quarterback Nick Foles and pulled out a 30-26 win on Sunday.
It would have seemed downright improbable — if it hadn’t happened for the second week in a row.
Atlanta (0-3) became the first team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games in which it led by 15 or more points in the final period, according to STATS.
“These last two weeks have been nothing short of crushing,” said Quinn, the sixth-year coach who desperately needed a strong start to the season after two straight losing campaigns.
A week ago, Atlanta became a national laughingstock after failing to pounce on an onside kick, allowing the Dallas Cowboys to finish off their comeback from a 39-24 deficit to win 40-39 on a field goal as time expired.
“It doesn’t get no worse than this,” defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said. “We probably found the two worst ways you can lose a football game.”
Under Quinn, the Falcons also wasted a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl after the 2016 season and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots.
Quinn faced questions about his job security after the latest debacle. He insisted that he’s only focused on turning things around.
“I need to be the same guy on our best days and on our worst days,” Quinn said. “Anything past that does not help the team. All I can focus on is us finishing better. That’s where my focus needs to be.”
This time, it was Foles who guided the improbable comeback after relieving erratic Mitchell Trubisky in the third quarter, pushing the Bears to 3-0 for the first time since 2013.
The former Super Bowl MVP won it with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller with 1:53 remaining.
“Pretty special,” said tight end Jimmy Graham, who had a pair of touchdown catches. “He was out there ad-libbing a bit for sure and checking and changing some plays. There’s one play he called, I’m like, ‘We got that?’ So it was pretty cool to see and pretty cool to be a part of.”
Foles had two apparent touchdown passes overturned by official reviews — and still managed to pull out the victory.
He tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Graham to make it 26-16 with 6:20 to go. The Falcons still appeared in good shape after the Bears failed on a 2-point attempt.
But Chicago got the ball back and moved quickly down the field. Foles connected with Allen Robinson on a short pass that turned into a 37-yard touchdown when Isaiah Oliver and Blidi Wreh-Wilson both missed tackles, allowing the receiver to scoot down the sideline.
After the Falcons went three-and-out on their third straight possession, Foles heaved one down the middle of the field with a rusher in his face. Miller hauled it in for the winning score.
The Falcons still had a shot, but Matt Ryan‘s pass was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson to seal it.
Foles finished 16 of 29 for 188 yards. Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, was 13 of 22 for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was sacked twice.
Brian Hill and Todd Gurley each ran for a touchdown and Ryan connected with Hayden Hurst on a short TD pass that helped stake the Falcons to their seemingly comfortable lead.
Of course, no lead is safe for the Falcons.
Especially with Foles recapturing some of the magic he had in guiding the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl title three seasons ago after replacing the injured Carson Wentz.
Foles spent one injury-plagued season in Jacksonville, then was acquired by the Bears to put some heat on the disappointing Trubisky.
Trubisky set up Chicago’s first touchdown with the second-longest run of his career, a 45-yarder after the Falcons abandoned the the entire middle of the field. He connected on Graham on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull the Bears within 16-10 at halftime.
But Foles got his chance after Trubisky threw an interception in the third quarter that led to a Falcons field goal, pushing the lead to 26-10.
“It kind of happened out of nowhere,” Trubisky said. “I just accepted the news. I had Nick’s back like he’s had mine. The situation sucked, but it was just the flow of the game and how it happened and coach made the decision that he felt was best for the team.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Foles pushed the Bears down the field on his first possession, connecting with Robinson on a play that was initially ruled a 21-yard touchdown pass even though Darqueze Dennard came away with the ball. After reviewing the replay, the officials ruled that Robinson never had control and awarded an interception to Dennard.
With just under 11 minutes remaining, Foles delivered another apparent touchdown on fourth down, connecting over the middle to Miller on a 17-yard throw. But a replay showed the receiver trapped the ball against the turf, turning the ball over to the Falcons on downs.
Turns out, Foles was just getting warmed up.
Bears: RB Tarik Cohen left the game in the second half with a knee injury. S Sherrick McManis was knocked out by an ailing hamstring.
Falcons: The Falcons played without six starters, including WR Julio Jones (hamstring). Also missing were LB Foye Oluokun (hamstring), OT Kaleb McGary (knee), DE Takk McKinley (groin), S Ricardo Allen (elbow) and CB A.J. Terrell (COVID-19 reserve list). The Falcons then lost WR Russell Gage (concussion) in the first half, and DT Grady Jarrett (hip) hobbled off in the second half.
Bears: Return home to face the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday.
Falcons: Head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in a Monday night game to finish off Week 4.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Jays lose to Orioles, setting up first-round date with Rays – Toronto Sun
Article content continued
In gambling parlance, the Jays believe they are live long shots based on a no-fear attitude and a potentially deep and explosive offence. As well, Montoyo is well-versed with the Rays, where he served as a third-base and bench coach under manager Kevin Cash.
“I think we’re a pretty scary team,” said Cavan Biggio, the Jays leadoff hitter. “We’ve seen what we can do with the bats. It’s hard to put us out of games, especially with the way we can score runs.
“We’re going in as the eight seed and I think not many teams are going to want to face us, just with the edge we play and the offence. It’s going to be exciting.”
With the season done and the matchup set, general manager Ross Atkins and Montoyo will piece together the 28-man post-season roster that has to be submitted by 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
After Sunday’s game, Montoyo said he intends to announce his rotation following a scheduled workout day in St. Pete on Monday.
On the pitching side, matchups will likely enter the equation of greatest intrigue.
Montoyo has been deliberately evasive on his plans but it is expected that Hyun-Jin Ryu and Tajuan Walker will handle the starting duties in the first two games. That order could be flip-flopped, however, given that Ryu has often preferred five-days rest and was feeling sore the day after throwing a season-high 100 pitches in Thursday’s post-season clinching win over the Yankees.
The Jays don’t seem overly worried about the range of possibilities, however. And that includes a possible Game 3 (if necessary) combination of Robbie Ray and Matt Shoemaker.
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