The Montreal Canadiens were the best team in the NHL when star goalie Carey Price went down with a lower body injury.
Nearly a week has passed since then, but thanks to the work of backup Mike Condon, the Habs haven’t missed a beat.
Wait, Mike who? Don’t worry. If you’ve never heard of Condon, you’re not alone.
Entering this season, the 25-year-old Boston-area native was hardly a household name. He went undrafted throughout his four-year career at Princeton — and only became the Tigers’ full-time starter as a senior — then spent the next two seasons bouncing around the minors, playing for two AHL teams and two more in the ECHL.
Condon’s big break came earlier this fall, when he beat out Dustin Tokarski for the job as Price’s No. 2 despite never having appeared in an NHL game. He watched Montreal’s first two games from the bench — including a 4-2 win over his hometown Bruins at TD Garden — before making his NHL debut against the Senators in Ottawa.
To say he’s held his own would be an understatement.
Condon, who was born in Needham, Mass., and attended a high school at Belmont Hill, carries into the weekend a record of 5-0-1. He has surrendered two or fewer goals in each of his six career starts and will look to extend that streak Saturday, when he faces Boston for the first time.
The Canadiens’ massive goal differential (plus-28, more than double that of any other team this season) obviously has made Condon’s job easier, but his stats speak for themselves: His 1.50 goals against average is tops in the NHL, and his .941 save percentage ranks second behind Henrik Lundqvist.
“We obviously know what Pricer means to our lineup, and in our minds he’s the best player in the world,” forward Brendan Gallagher said, via the Canadiens’ official website. “You can’t replace a guy like that, but that said, Condo has stepped up and done everything he could.
“He’s made some big, timely saves. We believe in our group. When one guy goes down, it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and take on a little bit of a greater role. Condo has done that, and we feed off that.”
The Bruins have struggled mightily against the Canadiens in recent years regardless of who’s lined up in the Montreal net. The Habs have taken each of the last six regular-season meetings between the Original Six rivals, with Boston’s last win coming back on March 14, 2014.
Thumbnail photo via Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon