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Shuffling the deck

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD – After the Devils game on Saturday night, Jacques Martin promised he and his troops would head to practice on Monday and go back to the drawing board. True to his word, the Habs coach did exactly that.

For the first time since landing in Montreal last November, Benoit Pouliot could find himself suiting up with a pair of linemates not named Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta this week. While Mathieu Darche was penciled in to make his return from the press box in Pouliot’s place during Monday’s practice, no one involved in the “restructuring” seemed to mind one bit.  

“He’s played with us before and I think it’s just a case of a little reshuffling to get us going,” explained Gionta on Darche’s recent promotion. “It doesn’t make a difference to me; I like playing with anyone on this team.”

With his team tied for sixth in the East and a few key games left to play, for his part, Gomez wasn’t worried about any position other than the one the Habs will find themselves in come April 12.

“That’s why he’s the coach; he makes the decisions. You’re asked to play a certain spot and it’s whatever helps the team," professed Gomez. “At the stage we’re at, we have lots of other things to focus on and all I’m thinking about it is our next game against Carolina.”

While the move is far from set in stone, Pouliot admits that a little change of scenery wouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

“I haven’t had my best performances lately,” admitted the 23-year-old winger, who has still racked up 23 points in 33 games with his new team. “The coach obviously has the right to make a change like this and we have to respect that. I’m not going to start worrying about it – especially after only one practice.

“Things were going really well before. Now that it’s slowed down a bit, it’s obviously not going as great for me,” continued Pouliot, who recently missed five games with an upper body injury. “One thing’s for sure, though, I definitely can’t blame the other guys on my line. Things will fall into place and we’ve got a lot of practices ahead of us.”

Coming off a pair of games as a healthy scratch, Darche is more focused on not being in a pair of slacks when the puck drops against the ‘Canes than what line he may or may not end up on.

“I was a bit surprised to skate with Gomez and Gionta, but the game isn’t until Wednesday and I haven’t heard anything about it so we’ll see,” said Darche. “Playing with guys with that much talent, I’ll just have to keep my stick on the ice and drive hard to the net. For sure it’s different from being on a fourth line – I mean, I don’t expect much dump and chase, let’s put it that way.”

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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