Ryan Lambert

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  • Success and perception in the NHL today (Trending Topics)

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 18: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes a shot in the second period against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    PHILADELPHIA, PA – APRIL 18: Shayne Gostisbehere #53 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes a shot in the second period against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 18, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Last week in this space I wrote all about Patrik Laine’s hot start and why I see it being something he can keep up.

    What I didn’t talk about is that Laine is scoring all these goals despite the fact that his possession numbers are flat-out not very good. He’s been outshot in his 5-on-5 ice time to this point, and he’s not particularly close to 50 percent. To reiterate the point made several times last week: He has a talent level that will allow him to outperform his expected-goals number in much the same way Alex Ovechkin always does.

    But what that doesn’t mean is that Laine should in any way

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  • Puck Lists: 8 reasons not to worry about the Auston Matthews slump

    TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    TORONTO, ON – NOVEMBER 11: Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Have you heard the bad news?

    Auston Matthews hasn’t scored since Oct. 25. Everyone is extremely concerned about what that means for the Toronto Maple Leafs both now and in the future.

    Because if Matthews isn’t producing the Leafs aren’t winning a whole lot this year. Plain and simple, he’s a big key to their success for next 15 years or so, and to get off on the wrong foot here may not portend good things.

    Of course, the Leafs themselves don’t really see this as a big deal. Would they like him to score more? Of course. Are they concerned that he’s never going to score again? Obviously not. Mike Babcock said earlier this week that they’re trying to ease him into the NHL game over the next few months, and that if he’s not a more

    Read More »from Puck Lists: 8 reasons not to worry about the Auston Matthews slump
  • NY Rangers, Carey Price and ‘haters’ (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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

    8 – Packing for a long trip

    Remember a while ago when the Vancouver Canucks sent Jake Virtanen down because he wasn’t scoring? But first they said they would limit his ice time until he scored, which is a self-defeating talent management strategy. But once that shockingly didn’t work either, they sent him to the AHL.

    Well, in two games he finished with six shots on goal. No goals, no points, but six shots. And that was in his second game. He didn’t do anything to get on the scoresheet in the first game.

    And okay yeah six shots is a lot to take in a single regulation game. And scoring or not-scoring is not necessarily the sign of success for a player. So it makes sense that the Canucks would call him up again. Did he learn his lesson? Well, that’s tough to say, because his recall to the NHL was not performance-based. It was I-should-have-brought-a-bigger-suitcase-based.

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Parker Gahagen, the best darn goalie around

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    College hockey is normally loath to give players Atlantic Hockey and the WCHA too much credit for producing big numbers.

    It’s understandable. Guys who would be perfectly good players in, say, Hockey East or the NCHC can go to an Atlantic Hockey or WCHA club and dominate the lesser talent they face on a regular basis. It seems like every year there’s the one token player from that conference, some junior from Canisius or something who put up 58 points, but that’s as far as one ever gets in terms of national recognition.

    Again, rightfully so. Zac Lynch was a great player for Robert Morris, for instance, but his 55 points in 39 games were not seen as being anywhere near as legitimate as, say, Drake Caggiula’s 51 in 39 for a North Dakota team is a significantly better conference.

    But with all that in mind, it is perhaps time to start talking about how damn good Army goaltender Parker Gahagen is and has been.

    Gahagen led the nation in save percentage last season at .937. That was ahead of

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  • What We Learned: Is Connor McDavid going to win the Pacific or what?

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    (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.)

    While everyone likely thought a worst-case scenario for Edmonton was “Connor McDavid only turns into the second-best player alive” this year, there couldn’t have been too many who had them pegged as the top team in their division by mid-November.

    [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now]

    And yet here we are, with the Oilers seemingly in the driver’s seat ahead of San Jose (no shocker they’re near the top of the division) and Anaheim (another minor surprise) and. Los Angeles being off to another slow start — below .500 — doesn’t help the predictors either.

    The Oilers lost on Friday night, despite putting 42 shots on net. McDavid had another point. They lost again on Sunday to the New York Rangers. McDavid had another point.

    Nonetheless, they

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  • A closer look at Patrik Laine's start (Trending Topics)

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 13: Patrik Laine #29, playing his first NHL game, of the Winnipeg Jets looks to make a pass against the Carolina Hurricanes during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA – OCTOBER 13: Patrik Laine #29, playing his first NHL game, of the Winnipeg Jets looks to make a pass against the Carolina Hurricanes during NHL action on October 22, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)

    On Tuesday night, Patrik Laine scored his second hat trick of the season. After Thursday night’s 0-fer against the Jets Coyotes, his total goals number in 15 games is still a whopping 11.

    Here in 2016 we understand this kind of production to be — all together now! — “unsustainable,” but clearly this is a player with an incredibly high skill quotient and a deadly shot. The fact that, 14 games into the season, he’s already a third of the way to 30 goals is hard to wrap one’s head around.

    Only 16 times in history has a rookie scored at least 30 as a teenager; Jeff Skinner and Sidney Crosby are the only two to do it in recent memory, with Eric Lindros and Jason Arnott’s rookie campaigns in a much more high-scoring era also

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  • Puck Lists: Jim Benning's best and worst decisions as Canucks GM

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24: Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks attends round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 24: Jim Benning of the Vancouver Canucks attends round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    The official party line out of Rogers Arena is to blame Mike Gillis for the team’s ills. And while Gillis certainly deserves his share of derision for the work he did in his final year or two at the helm, Jim Benning has routinely shown himself to be among the worst general managers in the league.

    Which is why you often see stuff like this:

    GMs know Benning is in over his head and they’re circling him like teens on mopeds. They know he’s a pushover and they’re trying to get high-end young players out of him as he pursues a stillborn playoff run.

    So as a public service announcement, here’s a rundown of some of the best and worst decisions

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  • Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba (8) in action against the San Jose Sharks during an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
    Winnipeg Jets’ Jacob Trouba (8) in action against the San Jose Sharks during an NHL hockey game on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    8. Being a good young player in the NHL

    Poor Jacob Trouba. The result this week was the only way his contract drama was ever going to end. As I’ve said before, the deck is stacked against young players, both by the owners and their older counterparts, who clearly feel like entry-level rights aren’t worth fighting for.

    It’s unfortunate, really, that restricted free agency even exists. Hope the NHLPA strikes when the CBA expires, and that’s a plank in their platform. Not that the league would agree to getting rid of it completely, but rolling back even a few of the controls players deal with before they’re 25 would be hugely beneficial for

    Read More »from Vancouver Canucks, Boston's power play and Kadri's hit (Puck Daddy Countdown)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Is Union College finally back?

    Patrick McDermott /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Patrick McDermott /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

    Union’s rise from ECAC doormat to national title winner was dizzying.

    Once Nate Leaman got a full class worth of his own players around 2007, they went from being occasionally .500 to regularly clearing .600 in short order. By the time Leaman left for Providence — another short-order national title winner — and Rick Bennett was behind the Union bench, a pretty clear trend had been established.

    Bennett’s winning percentages went .720, .613, then .810. After making the NCAA tournament zero times in almost two decades, they went four years straight, including two Frozen Fours and one national title in 2013-14. Then came a step back.

    You win a national title, and you often lose a lot as well. Those teams tend to be a bit senior-laden, and the younger players tend to be pretty high-end as well. Like Shayne Gostisbehere, who probably played 30 minutes a night for the Dutchmen but of course went right to the Flyers after being the best player

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  • What We Learned: Are the NY Rangers actually this good?

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    (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 Rangers are one of those teams again.

    The results are stellar (10-3-0), the underlying numbers are so-so at best and the eye test tells you it’s not a fluke.

    But the eye test can lie to you, right? Teams that win a lot tend to look very good even if they aren’t. So the question for the Rangers is what does a full season of playing like this look like?

    Right now, just to throw out some basic numbers, the Rangers have a plus-26 goal differential, and that’s with Henrik Lundqvist playing like garbage for the first two and a half weeks of the season. Already he’s back around recent league-averages in save percentage, so it’s not really a huge problem. And there are signs that Alain Vigneault and the team in general have kind of figured some things out

    Read More »from What We Learned: Are the NY Rangers actually this good?

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