MONTREAL – The Philadelphia Flyers sliced through the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday despite a skate-sharpening mystery that affected them throughout Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
A mysterious substance—hard enough to cause dents in skate blades—on the rubberized mat in the tunnel leading out of Philadelphia’s locker room and on to the ice, led to a parade of Flyers players getting their skates sharpened and re-sharpened during a 3-0 win over the host Canadiens.
Speaking in French after the game, Flyers forward Claude Giroux said he didn’t know what the substance was, but it created a big dent in his blade forcing him to miss a couple of shifts. Giroux added that captain Mike Richards also had dents in his skate blade.
A message left with NHL spokesman Frank Brown wasn’t immediately returned.
Richards, who had to have his skates sharpened at least three times during the game, said he didn’t check the mat to see what the substance was. He said equipment manager Harry Bricker told him the substance was larger than sand pellets.
Richards added that he didn’t know if it was the substance that dulled his skates or whether it was because he stepped on several sticks and skates during the game.
The Flyers’ equipment staff eventually laid towels across the mat in a bid to protect the skates.
NBC first reported the problem during its telecast of the game, calling the substance sand.
Richards made his way up the tunnel midway through the first period and was spotted standing in his socks. He missed about three minutes of game time, partly because he had to wait for teammate Kimmo Timonen, who was also having his skates sharpened.
Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette would only acknowledge that some Flyers players had “skate issues.”