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Habs defenceman Gorges to dump skate guards after giving up bad goal

PHILADELPHIA - Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges insists he won't be burned again by an equipment malfunction.

Gorges said Monday he will almost certainly take the foot guards off his skates for Game 5 of the Canadiens NHL Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia Flyers.

A loose strap on one of his guards left Gorges unable to turn when Claude Giroux went in alone to score the Flyers' first goal in a 3-0 victory in Game 4 in Montreal on Saturday.

The guards help protect defender's feet when they're hit by shots in front of the net.

''If I take a puck off the foot, I take a puck off the foot—it's better than what happened last time,'' said Gorges.

Rookie defenceman P.K. Subban said his guards are staying on, however.

''Last game, mine also came off at one point where I went behind the net with the puck and just tried to rim it around and get it out of the zone,'' said Subban. ''So I could change, but you live and die by those things.

''The shot blockers are great. A lot of times you block a shot and you don't even feel it. I talked to Josh earlier and he said he took it off a couple of times and the next time he took a shot on his foot it broke the foot, so it went back on again. It's mixed emotions sometimes. Things like that happen. There's nothing you can do.''

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GRITTY EFFORT? Montreal coach Jacques Martin tried to put the great sand on the skates controversy to bed.

NBC television reported during Game 4 that the Flyers were frequently going off to have skates sharpened because sand or some other substance had been spread on the path from their dressing room to the ice. The Flyers ended up covering the walkway with towels.

Martin scoffed at the notion that it stemmed from subterfuge by the Canadiens.

''It was a complete fabrication,'' an irritated Martin said. ''We investigated it and the Bell Centre is impeccable.''

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VISOR TIME: Tough winger Ian Laperriere of the Philadelphia Flyers says he is going to start wearing a visor, once he can stop playing with a full face shield.

It has been a tough year on the already crooked-nosed winger's good looks.

In November, he was hit in the mouth by a shot in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. It knocked out seven teeth and the cuts needed more than 50 stitches to close, but he went back to finish the game.

In the first round of playoffs against New Jersey on April 22, Laperriere was hit with another puck while killing a penalty, this one damaging his orbital bone and causing a concussion.

He returned for Game 4 against Montreal with the face shield, which team doctors say he must wear for the rest of the playoffs.

Next season, the previously visor-less Laperriere will wear a half visor.

''That kind of injury made me forget about the warrior mentality,'' he said. ''After that first one in November, Craig Berube, one of the toughest guys ever to play the game, said 'maybe you should wear a shield.'

''I was like no, no. I had that mentality like 'I'm tough, I want to play tough, I want to look tough.' After that second one, I'm wearing a shield next year. Not a big one, but I'll come back with a shield.''

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POWERLESS PLAY: The Canadiens' power play has gone cold in the Eastern Conference final, going 1-for-14 through the first four games. Team scoring leader Michael Cammalleri said they had to go back to what they were doing earlier in the playoffs when the power play was one of their best weapons.

''We made some adjustments that didn't work so well and we have to get back to doing things with our own personnel,'' he said. ''It's important on a power play that you play to each other's strengths—get the puck to guys in areas where they want it.

''We got away from that in the last little while. If a guy likes the puck down low or on the half wall and feels comfortable making plays there, that's where you want to get him the puck. One-timers, no one-timers? It's important to cater to one another's strengths rather than to play a structure that looks good on a piece of paper.''

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