Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Blackhawks face the new normal

    (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

    Take solace in the affirmation that Stan Bowman won’t, in fact, fire Joel Quenneville.

    There would have been a lot of psychic catharsis in canning someone in the wake of not only a second straight first-round bounce-out, but also the first-ever sweep by a No. 8 seed of a No. 1 seed in the history of not only the NHL, but the NBA as well. It would have been a dumb move, given that Quenneville is one of the three best coaches in the game, but if people wanted blood, that would have been Bowman’s best option to do so.

    Well, not “best,” but certainly “easiest.”

    Instead, Bowman used a lot of tough words, including saying “unacceptable” about 600 times, about making significant changes. But you really have to question whether it’s a promise on which he can

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  • Eulogy: Remembering the 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets

     

    (Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we’re bound to lose some friends along the journey. We’ve asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here is Ryan Lambert of Puck Daddy, fondly recalling the 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets.)

    By Ryan Lambert

    (Subtitle: You’re not gonna believe this, folks, but I was right about the Columbus Blue Jackets all along)

    Only two months and 13 days before Zach Werenski was born, on May 4, 1997, the 23rd episode of the eighth season of The Simpsons aired on the Fox broadcasting networks.

    The episode was titled “Homer’s Enemy,” and was of course written by the genius John Swartzwelder. It told the story of new Springfield Nuclear Power Plant employee Frank Grimes, who was new to Springfield and therefore had no idea how the town’s reality bent toward this one guy, Homer Simpson.

    Nothing should go this guy’s way. He’s dumb. Dangerously so.

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  • BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 24: Terry Pegula of the Buffalo Sabres attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    It seems like it would be the best thing in the world, right? A guy takes over ownership of your team, and he basically says, “Hey, I’m not in this to make money. I’ve loved this team since I was a kid, and I’m already a billionaire. So I will love this team as much as I ever have, and the only difference will be my name is on the checks.”

    So when Terry Pegula comes in as owner of the Buffalo Sabres in 2011, it was such a nice change of pace from the previous owner, who penny-pinched and generally oversaw a club that was pretty good — they finished with 100 points the season before Pegula bought the team — but about to decline.

    And the first thing Pegula does? He takes the 196 points the Sabres earned from 2009-11 as proof that his brand new club is proof that they’re on the cusp of contendership and, in his opening presser,

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  • Puck Lists: 7 Erik Karlsson stats that are as perfect as Erik Karlsson

    GLENDALE, AZ – MARCH 09: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators awaits a face off during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 9, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    PUCK LISTS are lists of hockey things. They run every Thursday on Puck Daddy.

    Wow can you believe it?

    After all these years, you’re starting to see the big names in hockey media look at each other and say to themselves, “Maybe this Erik Karlsson guy is one of the three or five best players in the world.” And sure, this is an argument you could have first advanced several years ago, but you’d have been laughed out of the room.

    All it took was a 130-foot pass that went 15 feet in the air and still landed perfectly on a guy’s tape, in addition to a bunch of points and huge minutes and a gigantic possession advantage against Beloved Canadian Prince Patrice Bergeron for everyone to acknowledge that yeah, this guy who’s certainly been the best

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  • Playoff officiating, Sidney Crosby and NHL ratings (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    (In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

     9 – Officiating

    Not a great night for the officials around the league the past few days.

    The penalty call on Riley Nash in OT was not very good, and indeed, you know things are bad when Pierre McGuire of all the agreeable people in the league goes way the hell in on you.

    The day before, the refs may or may not have blown it on both the Zach Werenski face injury — though if they didn’t blow the play dead when Gregory Campbell broke his leg in a similar situation, I think that sets a precedent — and the game-tying goal that saw Columbus even it up after the puck bounced off the inside of the open bench door. Maybe you say it balances things out in the end, hockey justice and all that.

    Then on Monday it seemed like the officials, both in the building and in the Toronto war room, blew no-goal calls that ended up costing teams their games. The second Nashville goal on Monday was

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  • Puck Daddy Bag of Mail: Leafs vs. Oilers, underpaid Sidney Crosby

     

    Hey everyone, with the NCAA season over, it’s time to roll out a new feature for the summer. It’s a mailbag column. People love those.

    If you have a question you want answered in the future, you can email me or get at me on Twitter. I’ll usually write this on Mondays so get your questions to me over the weekend and that kind of thing and we’ll take care of it no problem (as long as it’s in some way good).

    Without further ado, let’s just get into it.

    Jarrod Lassiter asks: “Would you take Leafs’ or Oilers’ roster right now moving forward? And those have to be the two teams set up best for the near future, right?”

    Germane to yesterday’s What We Learned about how the Leafs are about to become a colossus, this is a great question.

    On the one hand, Connor McDavid (probably the best player alive already), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (an elite No. 2 center who would be a solid No. 1 on most teams in the league) and Leon Draisaitl (a promising running buddy for McDavid) backed by a very good coach,

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  • What We Learned: Leafs making Capitals bleed their own blood

    It’s a common trope in coming-of-age movies.

    The smaller guy who’s been bullied for a while finally has to face the big bully in front of the whole school, gets in the first shot, and astounds. The punch the smaller guy packs is more than anyone expected. It staggers the bully. The crowd gasps.

    Then the bully, nose bloodied, comes in again and beats the crap out of the small guy anyway. But everyone saw something there, in that first punch. Things are changing. The power dynamic in the school is shifting.

    That very well could be what happened in the first two games of this Maple Leafs/Capitals series.

    The Caps are the Presidents’ Trophy winners. Again. Second year in a row. Third time since 2009. This is a great team. And the Maple Leafs, less than a year removed from winning the damn draft lottery and less than a week removed from barely squeezing into the playoffs, are giving them all they can handle.

    Two overtime games. One the Caps were a bit lucky to win. The other the Leafs took,

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  • Charlie McAvoy's debut was good, but let's not go nuts (Trending Topics)

    OTTAWA, ON – APRIL 12: Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins skates during warm-ups prior to making his his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 12, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

    There’s a problem with setting expectations too high, and I can’t tell if that’s what’s happening with Charlie McAvoy.

    It’s been a whirlwind three weeks for the Boston Bruins’ new No. 2 defenseman, who’s only 19 and was only drafted this past summer and played his first NHL game on the road in the playoffs just Wednesday night.

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    His Boston University Terriers lost 3-2 in overtime on March 25. He signed an amateur tryout contract with the Providence Bruins shortly thereafter, and played his first game as a pro on April 1. He played three more after

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  • Puck Lists: 12 funny stats from the 2016-17 NHL season

    LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 23: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins reacts to a call during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 23, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

    PUCK LISTS are lists of hockey things. They run every Thursday on Puck Daddy.

    Stupid Riley Sheahan ruined everything!

    I talked about it in the PDPR on Wednesday, but he was supposed to be the guy who set the NHL record for most shots in a season without scoring a goal. And instead he scored twice in the last game of the year! I was angrier about it than I should have been, but I was really rooting for that record, man.

    Anyway, it got me thinking about all the statistical quirks that come up in a season and how dumb hockey can be. So I dug into the numbers at Hockey Reference, NHL.com, Corsica and more to find a dozen stats that are well and truly stupid.

    12. Sheahan no longer the most futile forward

    Because he scored two goals on the season, he left

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  • Riley Sheahan, playoffs in Canada and LA's changes (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    TORONTO, ON – APRIL 9: Young fans hold signs during before the Toronto Maple Leafs play against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Air Canada Centre on April 9, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

    (In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    8. Riley Sheahan

    How dare this guy score the goals when it would have been really funny to see a guy go 0-fer on 100-plus shots?

    The fact that he scored twice perhaps makes up for a season’s worth of ridicule but still, it would have been cool to see history made once again. While 141 players in league history have gone an entire season (playing at least 70 games) without scoring, the vast, vast majority of them are defensemen.

    Only nine of them were forwards. The most recent was Craig Adams, who went 0-10-10 in 82 games in 2009-10. It would have been hard not to score even by accident on a team with Malkin and Crosby,

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