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JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Danny Maciocia's joke with the media has reached a second week.

The Edmonton Eskimos head coach continues to deny that his club played a game in Montreal during the regular season.

Of course, the Esks were pounded 40-4 by the Montreal Alouettes in Quebec on Sept. 21.

What is also still vividly clear for critics is that Edmonton gave up six sacks that afternoon.

It was the most difficult game of the year for the Green and Gold's offensive line.

If Edmonton is going to win Saturday's East Division final in Montreal and advance to the Grey Cup, the O-line will have to be much better.

"(They're) quick, fast, very athletic," said offensive line coach Ronnie Vinklarek on Montreal's D-line. "Each defensive line possesses different qualities.

"B.C. is maybe more push, muscle-oriented. Winnipeg was a strong, physical front. And this bunch (in Montreal) has fleet feet, very elusive and fast off the edges."

The good news for the Eskimos is that the O-line on Sept. 21 faced some internal challenges that don't exist today.

In that debacle in Quebec there were three issues: Dan Comiskey was playing his first game since being on the nine-game injured list, Calvin Armstrong was playing his first tilt at tackle and Garrick Jones wasn't on the roster.

None of that will be an issue on Saturday at Olympic Stadium in the biggest game of the year to date.

Working in the Esks' favour is that Montreal didn't register a sack on Oct. 31 in the final regular-season game.

While the Alouettes didn't dress six starters that night, the entire regular defensive line was on the roster.

And adding to Edmonton's confidence was the performance in Winnipeg last Saturday in the East semifinal when the Blue Bombers' talented front four only sacked Ricky Ray twice.

"I am excited about our guys up front," said Maciocia on his O-line after the first playoff test last weekend. "There has been so much talk about our receiving core, which I understand.

"But this group (on the O-line) is as good of a group I have been around the last few years."

MEDICAL UPDATE: EDMONTON FULLBACK MATHIEU BERTRAND VOWS THAT HE WON'T HAVE A REPEAT OF 2005.

Bertrand was forced to miss the 2005 Grey Cup game because of a high-ankle sprain suffered in the West final.

That thought came rushing back to the veteran last weekend when he injured his leg in Winnipeg in the East semifinal.

"I thought (the leg) was broken," said Bertrand, who just has a deep bone bruise.

Maciocia says Bertrand could be a game-time decision but the betting line suggests he will play.

QUICK HIT: THE ESKS' DRESSING ROOM IS A PRETTY LOOSE PLACE THESE DAYS.

Receiver Fred Stamps played a joke on teammate Andrew Nowacki by putting tape across his locker stall yesterday.

Call it payback for the second-year player.

"Last year when I was a rookie I came here (one day) and everything was gone out of my locker," said Stamps.

Nowacki is promising some retaliation.

"He has got something coming to him," he remarked.

FINISH LINES: TALK ABOUT A HOME GAME FOR MACIOCIA THIS WEEKEND.

While the East final is in Montreal, Maciocia grew up eight minutes from Olympic Stadium.

PARTING SHOT: MACIOCIA DENIES HIS COACHING STAFF OUT-PERFORMED WINNIPEG'S COACHES LAST WEEKEND.

"We didn't out-coach Doug Berry and his staff," said Maciocia after the 29-21 Edmonton win. "Our players clearly out-executed theirs. We made a few more plays."


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