Tag Archives: Craig Simpson

Boys Bomb Bolts

Such a character win by the Canadiens. I’m prouder than a peacock.

They’ve could’ve folded the tent after that murderous last-second goal in game three, but instead, they game out flying, got that first goal early, then another and another, and the series now shifts back to Montreal after the gang that couldn’t shoot straight took out the cocky Lightning with a tremendous 6-2 shellacking.

It was interesting to see one of the Tampa players in the corridor minutes before the game, shown during the first intermission, singing and having a grand old time. Sing some more, buddy. Maybe the blues? Maybe a hurtin’ tune?

Finally the breaks went the Canadiens way. Pucks that stayed out before went in this time. Ben Bishop was chased after the third goal and his replacement, Andrei Vasilevsky, was fairly lousy. Fans left early to water their palm tress.

Heck, Montreal even managed a power play goal, which in itself, is a mind blower of epic proportions. And Max’s shorthanded marker left me hanging from the chandelier.

Two goals in the first period, beginning with Andrei Markov converting a PK setup from a slightly difficult angle.

Next was Max’s shorty, and in the second period, Bishop was yanked after gloving a DD slapshot but then losing it. Craig Simpson on HNIC disagreed with coach Jon Cooper’s decision to switch goalies, but it worked for me.

The score became a juicy 4-0 when Jeff Petry, on the power play, finished it off after PK and Chucky and the gang threw it around in fine style, and just 15 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher let go a blast from the right side that Vasilevsky is still looking for.

It was good, real good, although Tampa would beat Carey Price twice after the 5-0 score was built, with their second just 17 seconds into the third. The Lightning weren’t going to pot three more, no way, but I was nervous anyway.

Brandon Prust converted Lars Eller’s rebound in the third period, the Bolts were officially fried, and it’s back to the Bell for a rousing game five and another one shift, one game at a time deal.

Random Notes:

Canadiens once again handily outshot Tampa, this time 40-24. Last night it was 31-19. And people say the Lightning are the better team?

I saw the game in a somewhat different place with a bunch of distractions that included that call from producers telling me I’m a “World’s Most Handsome Man” finalist. Pissed me off. So did that photo shoot with the Playboy bunnies during the second intermission.

But I still saw the game. I just wish these people would leave me alone.





“He Can’t Do It For 60 Minutes”


I watched the Canada-Latvia game again in the evening because the first time  was at work and I kept getting interrupted with work.

It worked out well because Luci’s at Place des Arts with her friend, listening to some live classical music of some sort.

It was interesting how  the announcers went on about things in the beginning, before the Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis proceeded to stop 55 shots and almost win it for his team.

This isn’t a critical review. I would’ve said similar things.

Jim Hughson “Should be a pretty intimidating night for some of these young Latvian players.”

Hughson “Kristers Gudlevskis is a 21-year old and gets an opportunity of a lifetime to play against Team Canada.”

Hughson “He had an awful warmup. The young man couldn’t keep the puck out of the net. ”

Glenn Healy “I’ve got a feeling he’ll be busy tonight.

Healy “He can play to a certain level for a certain amount of time, but he can’t do it for 60 minutes. Not against this Canadian team.”

Craig Simpson “As a player you just can’t help think that this is going to be a points night and have a good offensive game.”

Healy midway through the game “They’re running out of gas. You can see it.”



Canada 6 Austria 0

“Whatcha think of the game, Elmer?”
“Best game I’ve ever seen, Red.”
“You gotta stay away from that homemade corn whiskey, Elmer.”

Press box

Just a couple of things to mention:

You could see the guys a bit more in sync in game two than in game one.

And speaking of game one, they showed a Canadian fan in the stands wearing one of those red and white “Cat in the Hat-type” hats. Do you think the person behind him who couldn’t see appreciated it?

For the second straight game, Shea Weber fired a laser from well out that bulged the twine, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this guy’s shot might be in the top one or two hardest in the history of the game.

Don Cherry did his Coach’s Corner with some kind of dog hat on his head.

Announcers Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, and Glenn Healy were really on top of things when they told us that the Sochi time-out snow shovelers aren’t as good as NHL snow shovelers.

PK Subban had a solid night. Hopefully Babcock and company thought so too.

It’s been said often that if Luongo played well in this game, it should be enough to use him from here on in, which is just silly. What about a bad game from him on Sunday, or the next game?

Carey Price still has a chance to be the guy, regardless of what they say. Luongo had an easier night, but he recorded a shutout. Price allowed one goal, which apparently was too many.

Sunday against Finland. It’ll be good to finally see a real challenge. And Saturday’s U.S.-Russia tilt should be a beauty.

Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.





Habs Rebound And Sink Sens

The Canadiens win their second in two nights, and look out Toronto Maple Leafs, we’re coming.

Tonight it was the Ottawa Senators, with absolutely no help from Alex Kovalev, who fall to the Habs, and when you look at Montreal’s five games so far, only one was where they didn’t gain any points. So how can I be less than happy? How can I criticize?

I can’t.

I can, however, mention that PK Subban continues to make me nervous with some of his puck handling and ill-advised decisions, but how can I even be negative about this? He’s a rookie, with a only a few games under his belt last season and just five this year.

But CBC’s Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson were right when they pointed out that PK stayed on the ice for almost all of a power play with fresh and experienced defencemen biting at the bit to get out there. This is a big thing the young fellow needs to straighten out. Can’t have dissention within the ranks.

I know as a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Orillia Byers Bulldozers midgets that this can really piss off teammates.

PK is learning and we must be patient. He needs to be brash and colourful and daring, but until he sorts it all out over a period of time, he’s playing havoc with my nervous system.

The game was a see-saw affair, beginning with Brian Gionta looking like a shrunken Mario Lemieux the way he burst down on a clear cut breakaway and deked Sens goaltender Brian Elliot out of his jockstrap.

The Senators then tied it at one and in the second period scored two goals on just two shots that had visions of the old Carey Price dancing in my head. But our boys didn’t collapse. Jeff Halpern closed the gap, and then Andre Kostitsyn, playing the way we’ve begged and pleaded with him to play, scored a great goal late in the second after being set up by Tomas Plekanec. And in the third, Plekanec took the bull by the horns and scored his own beauty after a lovely Kostitsyn rush.

Good stuff. Plekanec and Kostitsyn getting it done.

Random Notes:

Carey Price got his first win at the Bell Centre in a long, long time. So long, in fact, that eight track cassettes were still around and Don Cherry was normal when he won last. Okay, maybe not that long. But it was last February, which is a long time ago.

Shots on goal? An amazing 40 to 19 for the Habs. How often does this happen? 

Next up – not until next Thursday when the New Jersey Devils pay a visit.

Keep it going, you crazy Habs.

Murphy’s Law Said The Leafs Would Win Tonight. I’d Like To Punch Out Murphy

How depressing is it that the Canadiens lost 3-2 to the Leafs in a shootout Saturday night?

Really freaking depressing.

Of course it would happen after the Leafs Suck So Bad contest wrapped up and after I posted the Tide advertisement and the dubbed Brian Burke press conference. Sure, after a bunch of us had just spent the last 10 days making fun of the boys in blue. And where the heck was Dishonest John’s lucky shirt? What’s going on with that?

It’s enough to drive me to drink.

Naturally the Canadiens would be flat after CBC’s Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, and Glenn Healy spent the first third of the game telling the world how the Leafs didn’t stand much of a chance, especially with Montreal’s formidable power play, which ended up a dismal 1 for 7.

And sure they lost when they had a chance to catapult into fifth place over the Senators and Flyers, both of whom lost tonight. For the Habs, it was a loss that ended a six-game winning streak, and it had to happen against the cellar-dwelling Leafs, who always seem to pull up their socks when they meet Montreal.

Habs were flat for 55 minutes in this game, right up until Brian Gionta tied it with his second goal of the night, but before the goal they were checked into the ground and frustrated time after time. And suddenly, Hughson and company began talking about how small the Habs are which will kill them in the playoffs. At the beginning of the game the Canadiens were a machine. After that they went from heroes to bums for these boys in the booth.

You could say this game was similar to the Canucks losing to the struggling Islanders the other night. But the difference is, the Canucks don’t desperately need points and aren’t fighting for a playoff spot. Vancouver’s sitting pretty while the Habs aren’t.

Random Notes:

Fifth place would’ve been nice. Now we have to wait until Monday when the Senators visit the Bell Centre. And the Habs have one last chance to redeem themselves against the Leafs as the two teams meet again on their final night of the season, on April 10th.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Leafs More Important Than World Peace And Global Warming

Due to the Canadiens-Sabres game not being televised, I made an executive decision. Instead of listening on the radio, I watched the Leafs-Detroit game, as a sort of scouting mission. You see, I’m not only an almost-owner and almost-stickboy and almost the guy who makes the players’ wives comfortable, but I’m also an almost-scout. I wanted and needed to get a feel for the Leafs, who the Habs open up against Oct. 1st.

I didn’t see much. Grabovski has put on weight. One of the players walked in to the rink wearing a fedora. Fans were quiet. Komisarek slammed a few guys but not much else, which is what he did in Montreal, although listening to the pre-game patter from the CBC boys, you’d think he was the saviour and a nice blend of Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey. I’m now absolutely convinced these guys paid no attention whatsoever to the Habs last year. Because if they did, why would they speak in such glowing terms about this bum?

From time to time I put aside my scouting duties to check in at the Bell Centre, and I noticed Ryan O’Byrne had a fight, Buffalo led 2-0 in the first and scored a short-handed goal. Short-handed goals are unacceptable. I also noticed that Carey Price is in goal and I’m slightly concerned. This is a guy who needs a big night and it’s not starting out that way.

I then saw on replay that O’Byrne destroyed the guy after the guy hurt Tom Pyatt. See Komisarek? That’s how you fight.

And why can’t the Habs, at some point in time, when all the stars are aligned, not allow any goals in a game? Shutouts are unheard of with this team. When was the last time they had a shutout, 1993? (Just looked it up. It appears both Price and Halak had one shutout each last year although that could be a misprint.)

Back in Toronto, Komisarek just thumped a guy near the net. I thought the announcers were going to have an orgasm. He also threw the puck up the middle which of course was intercepted, and took a bad penalty. Get used to it, Leafs fans, you’ll be seeing a lot of bad passes and bad penalties.

2-2 in Montreal. This is much better.

3-2 Montreal. Much, much better. Price came through in fine fashion. From the stats, it looked like a rough game, a good game, a game that should’ve been televised. Imagine, Leafs coast to coast on CBC, and the Habs nothing. But no wonder – Mike Komisarek and Jonas Gustavsson are the best players who ever lived. And there’s talk now that Gustavsson (The Monster) is better than Terry Sawchuk and Turk Broda combined and will soon be inducted into the Hall of Fame, even though he’s only played three periods in the NHL.

I couldn’t be sure but was that JIm Hughson and Craig Simpson kissing The Monster’s ring in the corridor after the game?

Random Notes:

Habs finish pre-season with four wins, two losses and one shootout loss, for nine points. That’s pretty good but of course it doesn’t compare with the magnificent, brilliant and overwhelming display of  hockey shown by the Leafs who now have ten points. That’s why CBC shows the Leafs. They’re just too darn good not to.

Canadiens Pull It Out As ‘Another Night, Another Hero’ Continues

Sergei Kostitsyn , you rascal! Scoring the winner with only 21 seconds to go in the game as the Habs inch closer to the Capitals in the standings with a 5-4 win that makes all Hab fans jumping for joy.  And doing it not long after taking a poorly-timed penalty which led to Washington tying the game up at 4.


Tomas Plekanec, you son-of-a-gun. Invisible for most of the first half of the season, but now playing firewagon hockey, and scoring a short-handed goal and another in the third.


Robert Lang, you ‘happy-to-be-a-Canadien,’ you. Scoring another big one tonight and lighting the dynamite stick that saw the Habs pot four goals in the third period. You came to the Habs when they couldn’t land Mats Sundin. And now you’re a star.


The Canadiens keep it rolling, having now won nine of eleven games, and on almost every night, a new hero does the deed. Maxim Lapierre on one night, Andrei Kostitsyn on another, brother Sergei, Lang, Plekanec, even sometimes Alex Kovalev.


And of course, Jaroslav Halak, who’s coming through in a big way. Good for RetroMikey in Hamilton for defending this guy all along and telling all of us that Halak is an excellent goalie who just needs a chance. It’s great to see something like this happen. It’s a real feel-good story emerging.


And regardless of what CBC colour man Craig Simpson said about if the Habs want to go far in the playoffs, they have to make less mistakes and keep it simpler. Simpson forgot to mention that these young guys who make the odd mistake are also chipping in in a big way while other regulars are sidelined.


He should be throwing kudos at them, not picking them apart. Don’t worry, Craig, they’ll have it all together by playoff time.


The Capitals played well also and had their chances, but couldn’t get it done. And geez, I make a couple of jokes about Alexander Semin and his fighting ability and the guy comes out and scores two goals. I’m not gonna do that again.


Alex Ovechkin had his chances but that’s not anything unusual. He has his chances every game, against every team.


This is a big, big win. It sets things up for Tuesday’s game in Boston. The Bruins won again today, and they need to be slowed down.


And Montreal is just the team to do it.