News for Monday, December 31st (French):

In La Presse, Marc Antoine Godin reports positively on last night's loss to the Rangers. The team played well, he says, and the point earned at the end of a successful road trip was a worthwhile achievement, given the circumstances (Koivu's illness, playing shorthanded, third game in four nights, etc.). He does observe that the Habs didn't have a great third period, "literally bottled in their own zone for the whole twenty minutes". Well, they weren't literally bottled, or in their zone for the whole period, but it sure felt that way. Many fans get quite irritated with the way the Habs seem to stop forechecking and go into a defensive shell when they have a lead, even only a one-goal lead with an entire period left to play, as was the case last night. The feeling among fans is that the Canadiens should stay on the attack, on the "they can't score against us if we have the puck" theory. I'm on the fence. Carbo's system is sound in theory, but it breaks down when the other teams get desperate and the Habs fail to capitalize on turnovers. It actually works more often than it doesn't, as the Habs winning record shows, but it's very frustrating when it doesn't. Last night, the Habs had a number of chances to put the game away and didn't. The Rangers got a cheap one - should have been disallowed for goalie interference by Sean Avery - for the equalizer.

Godin also speaks with Mark Streit, the versatile winger/defenseman, about his season thus far. He notes that players being used as both forwards and defensemen isn't actually all that uncommon in the NHL, and provides several interesting examples, going back to Sergei Fedorov being used as a defenseman by Scotty Bowman with the Red Wings in the late 90s. I can also recall Bowman using Paul Coffey as a forward, except that move wasn't complimentary, and it pissed Coffey off.

Perhaps the most complete account of last night's game in English or French comes from Martin Leclerc of Journal de Montreal. He calls the second period - in which Montreal scored two goals and held New York to just one shot - their best of the season. He pins the loss on the Habs' difficulties on face-offs last night (they won just 33% of the draws) and attributes the face-off problems on Koivu's absence: Carbo notes that Koivu is always the Canadiens' most reliable centre in that regard. Leclerc also uses a curious adjective - "pilonnee" - that I've never seen before. As he uses it to describe the Habs' defensemen in the first period, I'm going to guess that it means "pylon-esque", and I bet I'm right.

Yvon Pedneault has a good article based on his dialogue with Guy Carbonneau on the relative merits of using three lines primarily vs. four lines, as Carbo obviously prefers.

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