Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said he didn't do it.

In fact, when informed yesterday that sand might have been poured in the hallway that leads from the Flyers' locker room to the ice at the Bell Centre in Montreal before Game 4, Spacek said he was curious why so many Flyers needed to leave the ice.

"I was worried," Spacek said. "I thought they had diarrhea or something. Like they were going back and forth from the locker room. I steer away from the sand traps and the golf season. It wasn't me."

A full day after Game 4, no new light had been shed on the incident.

However, the Flyers made it clear after their 3-0 shutout win on Saturday afternoon that there was indeed something wreaking havoc on their skates.

"I think it was five times that I had to get my skates sharpened, which is obviously a bit much," Mike Richards said after the game. "I'm not sure [what happened]. I didn't check the carpet [for sand]."

Richards, Kimmo Timonen, Scott Hartnell, Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux all missed multiple chunks of Saturday's game to have their skates sharpened.

During the second period, NBC broadcaster Pierre McGuire reported that "sand or some other foreign substance" had been spilled in the hallway. Hard sand can grind away at the edges on hockey skates, causing players to slip and fall unexpectedly.

To eliminate further damage, the Flyers laid towels in the hallway during the game.

Richards said Flyers assistant equipment manager Harry Bricker, the man in charge of skate sharpening, told him the substance on the floor was "a little too big for being sand pellets."

It is clear some substance - bigger than sand but smaller than the Rock of Gibraltar - was on the floor. Taking the high road, no Flyers player or coach has been willing to scream sabotage or point the finger at anyone in Montreal.

Then again, no one was willing to deny that it happened.

"We'll be ready," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've got one of the best skate sharpeners in the league, so we're good to go."

Canadiens forward Scott Gomez said yesterday he had hoped when the Flyers were leaving the ice that they doing so because they were injured.

"They had some big names going," Gomez said. "You're kind of hoping they don't come back. I saw Richards go over, and, yeah, you're kind of hoping in the back of your mind, hoping it's an injury."

Gomez said the Flyers were "stretching" and "searching for stories," but, if it was him that sprinkled the sand, he "wouldn't tell."

Always thinking, Spacek offered a solution for the Flyers' problem, too.

"If they have a problem, maybe they can wear those skate protectors like the figure skaters and they can go and jump on the ice and it will never happen again," Spacek said.

Off-ice gamesmanship is nothing new in the Stanley Cup playoffs for road teams. Players have long complained about having the hot water turned off for postgame showers or even about between-period stat sheets not being made available.

It's just rare that an off-ice issue has an on-ice impact.

That leaves just one more thing to watch for tonight in Game 5. Gomez said he will be ready for any possible retaliation.

"If there are [repercussions], good for them," Gomez said. "I mean, it's the playoffs, and, hey, do whatever you can."