Ryan Lambert

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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

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  • What to make of the Florida Panthers? (Trending Topics)

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    Last year, the Florida Panthers significantly outperformed their quality. They were a team with talent throughout the lineup, but it got a bit thinned out on the margins and were overall a negative team in terms of adjusted possession, shots on goal, expected goals and so on.

    They were pretty close to the break-even point on all fronts, especially after a slow start, but in general if you’re in the 49.5 percent range across all those categories over 82 games, that’s not going to reliably result in your team finishing with 103 points. Even if they did finish with one of the better penalty differentials in the league.

    The thing is, though, the Panthers knew this. They knew that’s one of the reasons they got bounced in the first round once again. They knew the way they cleared the century mark for the first time in team history wasn’t exactly dependable on a long-term basis. So they went out and got a bunch of very talented players to address the pain points they “should have” suffered

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  • Puck Lists: Nine NHL goalies off to rough starts

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    (In which yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)

    The start to the 2016-17 NHL season has been a weird one.

    Goalscoring was incredibly high to start the year, but has since settled down significantly. As a result, there are a lot of goaltenders out there with save percentages way below what you’d expect them to have as guys who get paid to stop pucks professionally.

    Through Tuesday’s games, 20 goalies who had appeared in at least one game had save percentages below .900, which is kind of unbelievable. And sure, a lot of them played only a game or three, and some didn’t even get full games in. So things are a little weird right now for those guys, simply because of sample size.

    The same is true to a lesser extent of the nine goalies with at least five appearances who are also below .900, and the names on the list are often shocking.

    So let’s just have a quick look at those performances and determine how likely they are to rebound in a big way. This comes

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  • Halak, NHL All-Star votes and Rinne: Puck Daddy Countdown

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    Counting down the biggest stories in hockey this week.

    7 – Trading Halak

    The Islanders crease is crowded, no doubt about it.

    The Islanders are also pretty bad this year. No doubt about that either.

    The Islanders are also paying a lot of money for Jaroslav Halak to be awful (.901). No doubt.

    So now they’re looking to trade Halak, especially after agent Allan Walsh complained about the situation, as he is wont to do. The insistence on using three goalies is, of course, overdoing things by half, because if you like one of Halak or Thomas Greiss — and they’re roughly equivalent goaltenders in my book — then using JF Berube as the third-string guy doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    And if you only like Greiss, then keeping Halak around doesn’t make a lot of sense either. One imagines Walsh is simply trying to force a trade for one of his clients (he represents both Berube and Halak) and there is no shortage of teams that need goaltending early in this season. The question is whether anyone would

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Eligibility blunder may open Canada’s doors

     Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist

    NCAA rules are a baffling labyrinth of nauseating red tape, labor restrictions and unfair treatment. And the NCAA grips onto every rule, no matter how insipid, with the kind of tenacity you really only see in the opening scene of “Cliffhanger.”

    So it’s a little bit of a surprise that when someone points out the NCAA made a mistake in enforcing one of those rules, the NCAA’s answer was, “Oh well?”

    Brayden Gelsinger played 14 games for the Kamloops Blazers in 2012 and 2013, failing to record a single point. After that, he moved into the BCHL, where he was nearly a point-a-game player over three seasons. Last winter, he accepted a scholarship offer to play at Lake Superior State.

    This issue was first noted by Gregg Drinnan, a junior hockey reporter out of Canada. And it’s an issue because if you play in the WHL or any other CHL league you’re generally not eligible to play NCAA hockey. The reason why is a bit dumb: Because most teams feature players on professional contracts — despite not

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  • What We Learned: Who are most and least exciting NHL players?

    October 15 2016: Dallas Stars center, Tyler Seguin (91) during a regular season NHL game between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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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 National Hockey League is obsessed with making itself as entertaining as possible, and for good reason. Sports, at the end of the day, are an entertainment product.

    The problem here is that there are so many things in the NHL that conspire to keep the game not-fun, or at least not-as-fun-as-it-could-be, that get pretty frustrating. “We don’t want the game to get like soccer,” is a common refrain among those who want to see more excitement in the game, and it’s understandable that you don’t want scoring to drop to a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 games. That kind of contest can be fun, of course, but usually it requires both goalies to stand on their heads and stop a million shots, and teams to concede a lot of odd-man rushes without conceding a lot

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  • Boy, Hampus Lindholm got screwed (Trending Topics)

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    The thing with the NHL’s current CBA is that we know it’s not fair to the players. The last three labor stoppages were lockouts driven by owner greed, and all the leverage players might have had — or at least should have — has been sapped by the league over a period of two decades.

    The way this manifests itself most plainly is for the League’s youngest players. In almost every case these days, even the highest-level young players in the game simply cannot get paid what they should be, or would be on the open market. This is due in large part to the fact that the general managers in the league long ago assented to an unspoken rule: Don’t sign each other’s restricted free agents.

    [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now]

    The reason why they do this is obvious: While they might be able to improve their teams by poaching a Ryan O’Reilly or Shea Weber — just to name the last guys to actually sign an offer sheet — the inflationary nature of the salaries needed to attract those players

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  • Huge if True: Would the Flames actually trade Dougie Hamilton?

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    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]

    A lot of attention is paid to a good young defenseman in Western Canada who may or may not have fallen out of favor with his club. But this time around, it’s not Jacob Trouba who spent the past several days as the subject of the most intriguing trade rumors in the NHL.

    Instead, the somewhat surprising revelation from a number of reputable sources was that the Calgary Flames may or may not be shopping Dougie Hamilton started to percolate over the weekend. The idea here is that Calgary may no longer enamored of their young defender, less a year and a half after giving him six years at $5.75 million against the cap.

    It would certainly be an interesting wrinkle in this early season, and there is some foundation for the rumors in terms of how Hamilton is used, and has been for some time.

    Take, for example, Hamilton’s ice time last season, as he averaged 19:46 per game under Bob Hartley. This was the fifth-highest number on the

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  • Calgary's start, injured Stars and Chicago's PK (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 18: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
    CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 18: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 18, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    (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. Calgary’s start

    Do not, my friends, wade into Flames Twitter these days. There is nothing there for you.

    Unless of course you want to revel in schaedenfreude, in which case, dive in headfirst.

    Calgary picked up a shootout win on Monday night to earn their second W of the season, but a quick look at the standings found them still sitting third-last in a pathetic division, and ahead of only Arizona in points per game. They don’t have a single regulation win yet this season, meaning that opponents have taken 12 of a possible 14 points from them in seven games so far.

    Fingers are flying

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: North Dakota barely taking care of business

     

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    Anecdotally, the very best teams in any sport say they have a tough time because any time they play anyone, they get that opponent’s A-plus game. Very few teams will go into such a contest anything less than hyped up and ready to go.

    It is therefore understandable why a team like North Dakota would want to schedule soft opening opponents. Ease yourself into the season, collect some crucial W’s, and see where you stand before the actual tough competition ratchets up.

    That seems to have been North Dakota’s plan for this year.

    Much of the Fighting Hawks schedule was undoubtedly set long before they won the national title last spring, and you can only play the teams in front of you. But while North Dakota is 5-0, and haven’t left the greater Grand Forks area yet this season, you have to say that it’s tough to determine how good this team actually is.

    Many other top-level teams have had something resembling measuring-stick games. The Nos. 2 and 5 teams in the country right now

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