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Habs coach Martin shuffling lines hoping to find offensive balance

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Habs coach Martin shuffling lines hoping to find offensive balance

The Canadian Press
By:

MONTREAL - Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Martin keeps breaking up his top line to try and balance out the scoring talent, but it rarely lasts longer than a game.

The same was true Tuesday night in the Habs 1-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, when Martin was forced to put Mike Cammalleri back on a wing with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta midway through the third period in a desperate attempt to produce a tying goal that never came.

Because frankly, that's the only consistently dangerous line combination Montreal has had all year.

"It's something that we have to keep working at, and hopefully somebody will seize the opportunity," Martin said. "There's some chemistry between Gomez and Gionta and Cammalleri's played most of the time with them. We've tried different situations trying to find a solution that will give us more depth as far as scoring."

Second-line centre Tomas Plekanec is having a strong start to his season with 14 points in 18 games, but he's had a revolving door of wingers around him all year. Andrei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, Max Pacioretty and Cammalleri, in varying combinations, have all had their chance to seize a second line role, but none have been able to perform with any consistency.

The result has been an offence that has produced three goals or fewer in 13 of 18 games this season, and facing a tough defensive team like the Flames did not make their lives easier Tuesday.

"We need to make more tape to tape passes, we need to have more puck possession, we need to challenge them with more of a threat offensively," Cammalleri said. "It's hard to play against a team that comes at you like that, and right now we're making it easier on them."

It was a tough luck loss for Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak, who made 30 saves and only allowed a Jarome Iginla shot that he says deflected off a Canadiens defenceman to get past him.

It was Halak's first game since his agent Allan Walsh created a mini-controversy Saturday night by posting a message on the social networking website Twitter about the Canadiens other goalie, Carey Price, and his poor won-loss record dating back to last season.

Halak said he found out about the story on Sunday and has since spoken to Walsh, though he hasn't addressed the matter with Price.

"He wrote something he shouldn't have," Halak said of his agent. "It's got nothing to do with me."

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Habs coach Martin shuffling lines hoping to find offensive balance