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Changes are in store at the slumping Habs prepare for the Maple Leafs

NHL.com @NHL

BROSSARD, Que. - It looks like there will be substantial changes when the slumping Montreal Canadiens face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.

Coach and general manager Bob Gainey would not confirm any line-up moves, but it looked very much in practice Friday that struggling defenceman Mike Komisarek will sit out, and winger Andrei Kostitsyn may join him in the pressbox.

And it appears that tough guy Georges Laraque will be back after missing seven games with a sore back.

Gainey said final decisions won't be made until Saturday morning.

"Some of these are messages to players in practice," he said. "It can just be a message to see their response."

Komisarek avoided the media after practice and Kostitsyn, who has only two points in his last 12 games, looked glum and spoke of not getting the puck and not getting enough shots on goal.

The Canadiens are in the middle of a stretch of 10 games, including nine at home, where they hoped to fatten up on points and solidify their playoff position.

Instead, they 1-2-2 - all since Gainey replaced the fired Guy Carbonneau behind the bench.

They're now only one point from being out of playoff position, but the race is so tight in the NHL Eastern Conference that they're also only three points from fourth place.

"It's not possible to look at our situation and see that each game is either desperate or an opportunity for a great success, because we're in with a group of teams," said Gainey.

"We're the one that's been losing ground, but it's normal, but not preferable, to be one of those teams that is moving backward and not ahead

"So we have a challenge there to retool our attitude."

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