Canadiens’ goalie Condon capitalizing on opportunities

Montreal netminder posts shut out against Maple Leafs

Canadiens' goaltender Mike Condon
Canadiens’ goaltender Mike Condon (Courtesy of the Montreal Canadiens)

Sometimes all you need is a little extra focus.

That’s what Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Mike Condon is crediting his preseason success to so far.

“Over the summer I did a lot of mental stuff, ‘thinking lessons’ would be a good way to put it,” said a sweaty Condon in the visitors’ locker room at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night. “Quieting the mind and just going out there, playing, and having fun.”

The six-foot-two goaltender stopped all 17 shots he faced in regulation Saturday night as the Canadiens (1-1-2) defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2-0) 1-0 in pre-season action.

Condon also handled all 21 shots he faced in 32:57 minutes of ice-time versus the Washington Capitals last Thursday.

He ended up letting one past on the first shot of the predetermined overtime. The matchup was designated as one of nine  pre-season games featuring a five minute three-on-three overtime, regardless of score.

The 25-year-old Princeton grad joked about it afterwards.

“I’m not sure if that was a win and a loss or what’s going on there,” said Condon. “I guess I’ll have to work on my three-on-three game more.”

But the first 60 minutes were plenty to impress his coach.

“He played really well,” said Canadiens’ coach Michel Therrien. “I believe our team played really well tonight in front of him. We only gave up seven shots in the last two periods, but, when he had to make some saves, he played really sharp.

“He’s calm, he’s got good possesion, he’s square to the puck. He’s doing a lot of good things right now.”

Condon is not expected to make the Canadiens roster. Hart Trophy winner Carey Price will start the majority of games.

With former Canadian world junior goalie Dustin Tokarski expected to be in backup duty, Condon is pushing Therrien and general manager Marc Bergevin to re-evaluate their goaltending depth.

“It’s not going to be an easy decision to make,” said Therrien. “Right now, we’re going with the three (Price, Tokarski, & Condon), but at the time, we’ll have to make a decision.”

If Condon doesn’t make the big club, he will compete with 2013 36th overall pick Zachary Fucale for ice-time with the Habs’ new AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps. It will be Fucale’s first season out of junior since being drafted and Condon’s fourth year in the minors.

The Needham, Mass., native played 48 games in his first season with the Canadiens’ organization for the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs last season, posting a record of 23-19 with four shutouts and a 2.44 goals against average.

Condon has yet to play a regular season game in the NHL and he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I’m just taking one day at a time here,” said Condon. “There are still a lot of games to be played and a lot of practices to be had.”

The Habs’ netminder knows the odds aren’t in his favor, but he’s come to camp to work hard and make the best of his situation.

“I think every guy comes to training camp thinking they can make the team,” said Condon. “Obviously I’ve got a tough road in front of me, but I’m just happy to be here and happy to get this opportunity.”