The idea that players like Mike Condon and Dale Weise would keep the Montreal Canadiens thriving during a rough stretch would have probably seemed far-fetched to their fans at the beginning of the season.
Those two have done just that, and Condon is slated to fill in again for an injured Carey Price on Saturday night in his first matchup against his hometown team, the Boston Bruins.
It looked like Montreal's fast start had hit a speed bump when reigning league MVP and Vezina Trophy winner Price suffered a lower-body injury in a 4-3 loss in Edmonton on Oct. 29. Condon, who had two NHL starts on his resume, was tapped to take over.
So far, he has done his best to live up to the storied legacy of Canadiens netminders that includes Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy.
Condon has gone 3-0-1 in Price's absence and needed to make just 17 saves in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday, which boosted him to 5-0-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average.
"I think goals-against average is a team stat. A goalie is only as good as his forwards and his defensemen. It takes six guys on the ice to produce numbers like that," he said.
The suburban Boston native will next try to extend the Canadiens' recent dominance over their Original Six rivals. Montreal (12-2-1) has won seven consecutive matchups dating to the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals, including a 4-2 victory in Boston on Oct. 10, and has taken those games by a combined 27-9 margin.
"It's going to be an emotional game. I'm from that area and watched a lot of Bruins games growing up. It's definitely going to be a fun experience," Condon said. "I was more a fan of the rivalry. I watched a lot of Habs-Bruins games growing up. They were really emotional games and fun to watch."
Lars Eller's pair of second-period goals powered Montreal in the last meeting, but it's a third-line player that's led the Canadiens lately.
Weise scored his fifth goal in four games in Thursday's victory, which moved the Canadiens to 6-0-1 at home, and he has a team-best eight. He had a career-high 10 goals in 79 games last season.
"I don't really pay attention to individual stats," Weise said. "I'm just glad our line is playing well and contributing the way we are. ... We're scoring some big goals for our team."
The Bruins (6-5-1) don't appear to be in the best form to face Weise and the Canadiens, having given up a combined nine goals in back-to-back losses. A 4-1 defeat to Washington on Thursday snapped their 5-0-0 start on the road.
"It's one game," forward Brad Marchand told the team's official website. "It's not the end of the world. It's unfortunate that we lost, but you're not going to win 82 games this year, and we just have to make sure we're better the next game."
Max Pacioretty has six goals and five assists in the seven-game win streak against Boston. Weise has four goals and three assists in his past nine matchups, including the playoffs.
Tuukka Rask has a 3.34 GAA while appearing in six games during Boston's losing streak in the rivalry. He's 3-5-1 with a 3.47 GAA in nine starts this season.