BROSSARD, QUE. -- Josh Gorges is unlikely to don the protective plastic guard over his skate boot when his Montreal Canadiens meet the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final on Monday.
The contraption broke during a shift in the second period of Game 4 and played a role in the Canadiens defenceman being burned for the game's first goal by Philadelphia's Claude Giroux. Montreal went on to lose 3-0 at the Bell Centre.
Gorges is one of the growing number of players who wears a plastic guard over his skates to protect against foot injuries. The guard on his right skate snapped when Gorges blocked a wrist shot from Simon Gagne earlier in the shift that yielded the Giroux goal.
When the guard broke, the strap that fastens the protector was left dangling.
"Every time I would try to turn to the right, I would slip," Gorges said. "It was the worst time for it to happen. I tried to rip it off, so it would be out of the way."
This has happened to Gorges only once before. His boot protector also broke in a regular season game against the Anaheim Ducks. But that time, the Montreal blue-liner was able to reach down and tear the strap off his skate.
"I was pissed," he said of what occurred on Saturday afternoon. "I came back to the bench and wanted to yell at someone. But it was nobody's fault. It was frustrating."
The story that there was some sort of foreign substance on the runway between the Flyers dressing room and the ice surface during Game 4 would not go away the following day.
Philadelphia players Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, Darroll Powe and Kimmo Timonen each needed a touch-up on their blades during the game. There was a report that there may have been a sandy substance on the runway.
On the record, the Flyers refused to confirm something was afoul. But the Philadelphia training staff did put down towels on the runway.
"Those towels were put down for no reason, though," one of the Flyers said sarcastically.
When asked if there were any new developments in the controversy, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin stated that he was told there was nothing to the story. He also remarked that his club had a few nicked-up blades, too.
In fact, at one point during the second period, centres Scott Gomez and Dominic Moore had to retire to the dressing room at the same time for new sharpening jobs.
Martin believes that the skate problems had to do more with the composite sticks players use. Stepping on the old wooden sticks is less damaging than composite for skate blades.
"When you have those goal-mouth scrambles, guys are dropping their sticks and you step on them," Gorges added.
Montreal forward Tom Pyatt missed the third period of Game 4 with an undisclosed upper-body injury. The Canadiens have listed him as day-to-day. He accompanied the team to Philadelphia on Sunday.
Martin said that Pyatt was progressing and would be a game-time decision.
Canadiens forward Brian Gionta also appeared to suffer a jammed wrist in the second period, but he did not miss a shift in Game 4.
The Canadiens are 5-0 when facing an elimination game in this year's playoffs. Can they make it 6-0?
Well, they know why their game fell apart on Saturday, when they managed only 17 shots on goal. They tried to get too fancy in the neutral zone. They tried to force too many passes into coverage and didn't chip enough pucks deep into the Flyers zone.
The Canadiens also were too impatient. In this playoff run, they have played a productive counter-attack game. It's not necessary that they pepper the opposing goalie with plenty of shots. Instead, they wait for the opposition to make mistakes and take advantage.
That's easier said than done against a team like the Flyers because they play a similar style. Philadelphia has averaged only 27.6 shots a game in the 2010 post-season, and 24.75 a game in this series.
The Canadiens have averaged 26.7 shots in their 18 post-season matches. When they put forth their wonderful efforts in Game 7 victories against the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the previous two rounds, they only mustered 16 and 20 shots in each game, respectively.
There has been a notion that the Canadiens simply have run out of gas. They played their 100th combined regular- and post-season game on Saturday (82 regular-season plus 18 playoff games).
When they won the 1992-93 Stanley Cup, they required only 20 playoff games to close the deal in fourth rounds.
"Yeah, you are tired," Martin said. "But that's part of playoff hockey. It's two months, it's a marathon. We enjoy the challenge and it's no different for the other [three] teams that are remaining. The prize is higher and to me it's a tremendous honour."
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