Ryan Lambert

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  • PHILADELPHIA – Viewed on an historical basis, this is a matchup that in and of itself should be incredibly lopsided. The No. 1 overall seed is the same team it has been for most of the season, and that's mighty Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have knocked down five NCAA titles in their time, sent scads of players to the NHL and other professional leagues, and in doing so become perhaps the most storied hockey program in NCAA history.

    In the other dressing room is Union, which has until recently been a team which often struggled to even make it to .500 for the season. Only in the past four years have they really established themselves as being a program worth revering, as they've sent very few players to the NHL, and have won no national hockey titles.

    The University of Minnesota is huge. Huge enrollment, huge sports and academic programs, huge every thing. Union is small. Small enrollment, liberal arts college, little in the way of national recognition.

    This game might change all that.

    Read More »from NCAA Frozen Four: Minnesota, Union title game shaping up as one for the ages
  • Colorado Avalanche’s success is unsustainable (Trending Topics)

    With the so-called hockey analytics movement, such as it is, outlier teams and their fans seem to mostly think theirs is the team that will prove the math wrong.

    That what they do to create the appearance of luck is, in fact, a repeatable skill that they're going to be able to churn out forever and ever under this system and with these players.

    That what they do is somehow different from the other teams, those that have already failed in much the same way the numbers say they will as well, and therefore it doesn't matter how badly they get outshot or how high their shooting percentage is or how much larger their goaltender inflates his save percentage over his career average.

    They're just going to keep winning. Because they're different.

    After all, how else does anyone explain how they've done it for this long? Outperforming the numbers over 80 or so games doesn't seem like it should be an easy thing. There's a lot of hockey in five or six months and if the numbers worked, then they'd

    Read More »from Colorado Avalanche’s success is unsustainable (Trending Topics)
  • NCAA hockey Frozen Four preview: Three old powers and a new one

    The NCAA Frozen Four begins this afternoon. Study up.

    NCAA hockey is nothing if not an old boys club. At the end of every season, you can usually count on a handful of the same old teams being there year after year after interminable year. This season is no different.

    From Hockey East, there's Boston College, winner of five national championships. That includes four since 2001 and three since 2008 and two since 2010 and one since 2012. Boston College, it seems, wins a lot, and especially lately.

    From the brand new Big Ten Hockey Conference, there's Minnesota, also winner of five NCAA titles. They haven't won since 2003, but when they did it that year, it was the second season in a row in which they pulled off the feat. Minnesota, of course, is one of the most storied programs in college hockey history.

    From the also-brand new National Collegiate Hockey Conference, there's seven-time winner North Dakota, which most recently took home the title in 2000. The former Sioux dominated the

    Read More »from NCAA hockey Frozen Four preview: Three old powers and a new one
  • [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    6. Holding the bag

    The Canucks weren't exactly a mess this year and the underlying numbers point to their having been mostly unlucky, but nonetheless they're going to miss the playoffs; and in a market like that, someone had to pay.

    And so it was that Mike Gillis was let go after years of being viewed as perhaps one of the 10 best GMs in the league. I wrote a few weeks ago that this was inevitable, though one strains to see how doing it now, rather than after the end of the season, does anything but distract from this pointless final few games.

    Some would

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Why Mike Gillis was canned; the Dave Bolland problem
  • What We Learned: Leafs, Jets and how goaltenders make or break a season

    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.

    The Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets played each other on Saturday night on a game that turned out to be of great significance to the former, for reasons they'd probably like to forget.

    All the Leafs had to do, following wins over Calgary and — of all teams — Boston, was continue winning right on through to the end of the season to essentially guarantee themselves a playoff spot. It wouldn't be easy, but this was arguably the easiest leg of the four-game sojourn to the team's first postseason in an 82-game campaign in the last nine years. The Jets had already been eliminated from the postseason in the cutthroat Western Conference, and were starting their skating disaster of a goaltender, and had healthy-scratched Evander Kane for reasons that have

    Read More »from What We Learned: Leafs, Jets and how goaltenders make or break a season
  • In the NHL, and especially these days, you really can't walk around calling out your star players.

    Even if he didn't think Patrick Kane, for instance, didn't have a very good game on such-and-such a night, Joel Quenneville couldn't just drop the gauntlet and say he sucked, even if he did, to the assembled media. It creates problems, and would be better addressed during a practice or in the privacy of the dressing room after the game before reporters come in.

    With that having been said, it's not as though these players should be bulletproof. If Sidney Crosby does something egregiously awful and ends up costing the Penguins the game (not that this would happen), Dan Bylsma should feel free to say so. Moreover, one could say that such criticism could be used as a motivator that might not otherwise be available to him; you can't, after all, health-scratch Sidney Crosby.

    But that isn't really what Adam Oates did in calling out Alex Ovechkin for having “quit on the play, coming back.” The

    Read More »from Adam Oates is probably going to lose his job this summer (Trending Topics)
  • [Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

    6. The hit debate

    Brooks Orpik went out there on Sunday and did what Brooks Orpik does: Hit someone hard and made everyone mad at him.

    This time it was Jonathan Toews whom he clobbered in the corner, and sent to the dressing room with a shoulder injury, and boy was everyone out for blood. Namely, the people who were out for Orpik's blood were idiots — like Blackhawks fans who claimed that if Duncan Keith had hit Sidney Crosby like that, he'd be suspended — or notable national TV analysts — like Mike Milbury — or both — like Eddie Olcyzk.

    This was a clean hit

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Maple Leafs, bad hit debates, nonsense NHL Awards
  • NCAA Hockey: Boston College, Minnesota advance to Frozen Four

    In which we recap the day's events in the NCAA tournament.

    WORCESTER, Mass. — The No. 1 offense in the country. The No. 1 defense in the country. The Hockey East regular season champion. The Hockey East tournament champion. Meeting in the postseason for the first time since the latter began its ascent to the upper levels of college hockey.

    That UMass Lowell and Boston College avoided each other to this point was something of a minor miracle, given that they'd traded off finishing first and second in their conference in each of the previous three seasons. Lowell bowed out early in 2012, BC in 2013 and 2014. This was the dream match to which interested league observers had looked forward for years: Irresistible Force v. Immovable Object.

    It seemed reasonable, therefore, to assume that these the side which came up on the short end of the stick in this regional final would be the first of them to accede to the other's system. The fact that this one finished 4-3 should tell you everything

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey: Boston College, Minnesota advance to Frozen Four
  • Getty ImagesIn which we recap the day's events in the NCAA tournament.

    WORCESTER, Mass. — Boston College was dismissed rather unceremoniously from the Hockey East quarter finals by Notre Dame two weeks ago, conceding 13 goals and scoring just eight of their own in a three-game series. This after having lost the regular-season finale against those same Fighting Irish, and all of those games were at the Eagles' fortress of Conte Forum.

    Even while the Irish stormed the ramparts and stuck a sword in everyone within an arm's length, the college hockey world collectively dismissed BC's season as having been the product of one world-beating line that went oddly silent in that early playoff series. Many pundits picked lowly Denver to knock them off in Saturday's regional semifinal despite the fact that the Pioneers had been only slightly better than mediocre for much of the season.

    The Eagles, with three national titles in the last six tournaments, seem not to take especially kindly to being written off.

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey: BC’s top line goes off; North Dakota, Union book Frozen Four dates
  • NCAA Hockey: Union pummels Vermont, North Dakota knocks off Wisconsin

    In which we recap the day's events in the NCAA tournament.

    The No. 1 seed in any given regional beating the No. 4 seed there is not what you'd call a "surprise," nor is it a shock when they do basically what they've done to every team they've played all season long.

    It is, in fact, the opposite of noteworthy. But that doesn't mean it's not also extraordinarily impressive. People didn't watch Mike Tyson fights in the mid-1980s because they wanted to see an even and hard-fought matchup. They wanted to see him take years off the life of some hapless fighter's by smashing his nose into a fine paste; it's morbidity on a grand scale, but that's nature.

    The final score reads 5-2 Union over Vermont, but that's being a little kind to the Catamounts, who were overmatched more or less from the outset. Corsi for the game was actually 37-32 in favor of the lower seed, but its problem was simple: that didn't include another 28 shot attempts taken by Union on its seven power plays which came because

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey: Union pummels Vermont, North Dakota knocks off Wisconsin

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