Ryan Lambert

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  • Shocking developments in NHL MVP race (Trending Topics)

    When it comes to determining the most valuable player in the NHL, you have to say that most of the time, the voters get it right. Well, mostly right.

    While you can quibble about the eventual winner, it’s very rare that the guys who had the best seasons don’t at least finish in the top three slots. Going back through the last decade or so of players who finished top-three in Hart voting, it’s hard to argue with anyone the PHWA selected. They might get other trophies wrong on occasion (hello to Drew Doughty’s Norris) but MVP is kind of a hard one to mess up, and to their credit, it almost never happens.

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    However, it must be said that it’s tough to nail down a specific criteria for what defines “most valuable.”

    You hear that argument all the time. “How can you have been the most valuable if your team misses the playoffs?” and all that kind of thing. That in particular is a dumb argument but I think if you combine

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  • Puck Lists: 9 games to watch down the stretch

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

    Most teams only have between eight and 10 games left on the schedule, and playoff races are getting interesting.

    As mentioned the other day, it’s not necessarily that we need to be watching which team is or isn’t going to make the playoffs at this point. Almost every spot seems assured, and the Leafs might soon have the last one sewn up as well — but rather the seeding teams will enjoy in this dumbass playoff format.

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    As Jarmo Kekalainen bemoaned the other day, a team with one of the three or four best records in the league is guaranteed to be bounced out in the first round of the Metro divisional playoffs, and another will probably go in the second. Moreover, the overall quality of some of the higher seeds in the league makes it increasingly important to avoid those first-round matchups by finishing second or third in your division,

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  • Five times in the past six years, UMass Lowell has both qualified for the NCAA tournament and advanced to its second round. Only once did they get any deeper than that, making the Frozen Four in 2013 but losing to the eventual national champion in overtime.

    In a tournament in which you need to win just four games to earn a national title, getting a quarter of the way there isn’t a bad thing, in and of itself. Certainly, it’s better than not winning at all.

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    All teams have flaws, weak spots that make them vulnerable to defeat on any given night. The nature of hockey is that the best team wins far less often than you’d think it should, but the one thing you could always say about Lowell in the past is that while they certainly had offensive abilities, they were only occasionally in an elite class when it comes to putting points on the board. It’s the rare team that makes it to the Frozen Four, let alone a

    Read More »from NCAA hockey tournament preview: Puck Daddy's epic team-by-team breakdown 
  • Kings in trouble, Canadian bias and Jaromir Jagr (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.)

    6 – The Los Angeles Kings

    No, the Kings are not really a bad team. They’re a well-coached, talented team that has always underperformed when it comes what you would think a team as good as they are “should” do. To that end, we’re now at the logical extreme of those problems actually putting the puck in the net.

    After Monday night’s games, the Kings were 26th in the league in goals scored with only 175 in 72 games. The odds they don’t hit 100 are basically quite high. The odds they make the playoffs are now basically nil.

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    That comes despite the fact that they’d also allowed the eighth-fewest goals in the league. When Jonathan Quick went down for a massive chunk of the season, the reasonable take was, “They’re going to miss the playoffs because they won’t get good goaltending.” Their goaltending was,

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Harvard gets over the hump

    BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 13: Jacob Olson #26 of the Harvard Crimson celebrates after defeating the Boston University Terriers 6-3 in the 2017 Beanpot Tournament Championship at TD Garden on February 13, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    [Ed. Note: Our big NCAA tournament preview will run later this week.]

    Harvard has been a very good team for a few years now, but they’ve always had their skeptics.

    And for good reason.

    There’s a difference between being a very good team and a great one, and in college hockey short seasons and big streaks tend to bend opinions quickly. Harvard has generally been a team known for its streaks, and more specifically, the thuds that end them.

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    Earlier this season I wrote about their tendency to drop off as the season wore along in each of the last three campaigns around January. And this year, too, they hit that skid a little earlier than usual. They won

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  • What We Learned: Three teams vying for league's last playoff spot

    TORONTO, ON – MARCH 18: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on March 18, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blackhawks defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    Most of the playoff teams in the league seem pretty much set. In a lot of cases it’s just a matter of seeding over these last 10 to 12 games.

    In the West, the gap between the No. 8 team (currently Nashville) and No. 9 (currently LA) is six points. With this little road left, that seems insurmountable.

    And in the East, seven of the eight playoff spots are set as well. The Rangers occupy the first Wild Card spot and enjoy a 14-point gap between themselves and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hold the last spot. And that final spot is now the sight of some significant drama.

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    With an OT loss to a Chicago team that

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  • You'll never guess what's different about the Bruins (Trending Topics)

    BOSTON – MARCH 4: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has a talk with his players with 0.9 sec left in the third period with the Bruins up 3-2. The Boston Bruins host the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden in Boston on Feb. 4, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    It wasn’t so long ago that most of the hockey world was roasting the Boston Bruins for firing Claude Julien when it was obvious what the problem was.

    The Bruins, at the time of Julien’s firing, had the lowest shooting percentage in the league and couldn’t get a stop from any of its backup goaltenders while Tuukka Rask had been a little below average.

    Well let’s just check the standings here really quickly and oh hey the Bruins are very comfortably in a playoff spot. What a big surprise! To everyone except Don Sweeney, who really has this whole thing figured out after all.

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    Turns out you can fire an elite coach and still go on a little bit

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  • Puck Lists: 8 incredible Alex Ovechkin stats

    WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 01: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals scores a goal against the Boston Bruins during the second period at Verizon Center on February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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

    Alex Ovechkin broke the longest goal drought of his career on Tuesday night, scoring at 5-on-5 against the Minnesota Wild. Before that, he’d gone 10 games without a goal, and the fact that that’s the longest dry run of his career is pretty astounding.

    In fact, even in the past five years, when he aged into his late 20s and then early 30s, he’d never gone more than six games without scoring. That’s bonkers.

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    The thing with Ovechkin is that he’s a total freak. The Ovechkin Spot has been a very real thing since he came into the league, and this is the first year in a very long time it hasn’t worked for him to

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  • Surging Lightning, exploding Stars and Olympics (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.)

    8 – No Olympics

    This is stupid, right? Everyone but the owners agree this is stupid? I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page here. Because it seems very dumb. And therefore, exactly what the NHL wants.

    7 – Not retiring

    I was really sad this week to see Clarke MacArthur, who’s only played 66 games the last two seasons, isn’t going to retire despite concerns about his concussion history.

    This is something you hate to see anyone mess with. His latest concussion, suffered in training camp, was his fourth. In 18 months.

    I get that guys are competitive and they want to stay active and make money as long as they can, but man, there’s life after hockey. Lots of it, in fact. You gotta think about that a lot more than wringing an extra 80 games out of the league.

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    Not to tell this guy how to live

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Who was the NCAA's best goalie this year?

    Canisius College

    Last week in this space we talked all about how Zach Aston-Reese is the best candidate for the Hobey Baker award in the country.

    This week, with the release of the 10 semifinalists for the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the best goalie in the country, it’s worth taking a look at who’s had the best season in the crease.

    The semifinalists represent all of the various conferences except the Big Ten (this is the second year in a row Big Ten goaltending has been an absolute horror show; only two goalies in the conference have played more than 30 games and they have save percentages of .906 and .899). There are three(!) from Atlantic Hockey; two each from Hockey East, the NCHC, and the ECAC; and one from the WCHA.

    It’s difficult to take into account issues like strength of schedule when assessing goaltending talent, or at least it’s difficult to quantify it. With that having been said, we can safely surmise that Hockey East and the NCHC in particular put their

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