Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Fixing one of NHL’s biggest disappointments

    (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.)

    Another year come and gone of NHL hockey without a postseason for the Winnipeg Jets.

    On the surface, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Look at the talent on that roster and explain how that team ended up seven points out of the playoffs — again. It’s not easy to do.

    Mark Scheifele finished at more than a point a game. Blake Wheeler was close. Patrik Laine and Nik Ehlers are future stars in this league. Dustin Byfuglien is still a great defenseman. Bryan Little, hurt for much of the year, is a low-key great No. 2 center. Mathieu Perrault is one of the best pure middle-six two-way forwards in the league. Jacob Trouba’s a high-level young defender. Connor Hellebuyck has the profile of one of the best goaltenders in the world.

    That’s nine players who can all

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  • NCAA Frozen Four: Lukosevicius hat trick powers Denver to national title

    Denver players celebrate their 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth during an NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    In a battle of the two best teams in the country, for the national title, you need your best players to be at their best. And you need your role players to step up.

    For the Denver Pioneers, relatively unheralded Jarid Lukosevicius (who had a respectable 29 points in 42 games coming in) did the stepping.

    Lukosevicius scored a second-period hat trick, thanks to a lot of heavy lifting from Big Game Troy Terry, and Denver absorbed a furious Minnesota-Duluth comeback attempt en route to a 3-2 win, and the school’s eighth national title.

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    “We won the regular season, they won the playoff, and we met in the championship game,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery, who won the title in just his fourth year at the helm of the legendary program. “It

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  • NCAA Frozen Four: Denver, Minnesota-Duluth square off for national title

    CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 06: A logo is seen on a door next to hockey sticks prior to an NCAA Frozen Four semifinal game with the Harvard Crimson and the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs on April 6, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    In a lot of ways — maybe every way — this felt inevitable.

    Denver has been ranked as the No. 1 team in the country for each of the past five weeks and seven of the college hockey’s season 24 weeks total, winning when it matters. Winning in crunch time. Only once having struggled for an entire weekend, and that was the first one of the season.

    Minnesota-Duluth was the No. 1 team in the country for nearly half the schedule, holding the top spot for 11 of 24 weeks, most recently in mid-February.

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    They finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the NCHC, respectively, effectively separated by just a couple losses.

    Both have great forwards. Both have

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  • University of Denver's Will Butcher wins 2017 Hobey Baker Award

    AP

    Well, it actually happened.

    Denver defenseman Will Butcher won the 2017 Hobey Baker award, despite some potential hurdles.

    There was always the possibility that Butcher would consolidate the western bloc of voters, and for understandable reasons. At the same time, you had to acknowledge the very good chance Union’s Mike Vecchione and Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese would split the eastern voters to some degree.

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    Butcher finished the regionals tied for second in points among defensemen nationally, and tied for fifth in points per game. But as with any No. 1 defender on an elite team, his quality extended well beyond his ability to produce goals.

    While he certainly didn’t come close to the kind of production the forwards who also made the Hobey Hat trick put up (understandably, as a defenseman), he checks a lot of other Hobey boxes:

    • Plays for a great team
    • American
    • Senior
    • Leadership-y
    • Good at defense

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  • Playoff field could be rare in modern NHL (Trending Topics)

    DETROIT, MI – APRIL 03: Fredrik Claesson #33 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates his third period goal with Mark Stone #61 and Erik Karlsson #65 while playing the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on April 3, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 5-4 in a shootout. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

    It’s only happened twice since the introduction of the shootout. It might happen again this year too.

    Depending upon how things go over the next few games for the Ottawa Senators, this might be just the third season in the past 12 seasons in which no team with a negative goal differential made the playoffs. After Thursday night’s game win over the Boston Bruins, the Senators have been outscored by their opponents over the course of the entire season to date by three goals. They have two games left to improve that number, against the New York Rangers (Friday) and New York Islanders (Sunday).

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    For the

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  • NCAA Frozen Four: Denver annihilates Notre Dame; sets up all-NCHC final

    The scoreline tells the story: Denver outscored its opponents by five.

    The shot tally tells the story: Denver outshot its opponents by 25.

    The shot chart tells the story: Denver out-attempted its opponents by 39 (77-38).

    And because all that happened, it’s no surprise the Pioneers cruised to a jaunty 6-1 win, and advanced to Saturday’s national title game. Pretty much everyone on the roster at least had a good game. A few had very good games. One or two had transcendent performances.

    “I think we have to give a lot of credit to our forwards,” Denver captain Will Butcher, provider of one of those transcendent performances, said after the game. “I think our forecheckers dominated and ate them up. Whenever we have a good forecheck going, we seem to get the puck back a lot more. It’s great when we get the puck back because we’re a puck-possession team. When we get that more, we get that early jump.”

    So the Pioneers will play conference-mate Minnesota-Duluth, and that’s all fitting. They’ve

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

    Minnesota-Duluth is the best team Harvard has played all year. The ECAC isn’t exactly a tough league, and the Crimson’s NCAA tournament opponents weren’t exactly the most skilled in the field.

    So this was a big test.

    Results-wise, you can say the Bulldogs were harsh administrators.

    Alex Iafallo, the best Duluth player all season, scored with just 26.6 seconds left in a heavy game that had been deadlocked for more than 40 minutes. The Bulldogs won by a hair, 2-1, to advance to the national final on Saturday night.

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    “We made a play at the end to win,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “But certainly exciting for our team and our program to be playing on Saturday night. And looking forward to see who we play. But it’s kind of been our M.O. all year. Another tight game. Another one-goal hockey game. And just real exciting to be moving on.

    It was exactly the

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  • NCAA Frozen Four: Minnesota-Duluth beats Harvard with last-minute goal

    CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 06: during game one of the 2017 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship Semifinal at the United Center on April 6, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Minnesota-Duluth defeated Harvard 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

    Minnesota-Duluth is the best team Harvard has played all year. The ECAC isn’t exactly a tough league, and the Crimson’s NCAA tournament opponents weren’t exactly the most skilled in the field.

    So this was a big test.

    And, results-wise, you can say the Bulldogs were harsh administrators; defeating Harvard, 2-1.

    Alex Iafallo, the best Duluth player all season, scored with just 26.6 seconds left in a heavy game that had been deadlocked for more than 40 minutes. The Bulldogs won by a hair, again, to advance to the national final on Saturday night.

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    “We made a play at the end to win,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “But certainly exciting for our team and our program to be

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  • Puck Lists: 7 surprising recent 30-goal scorers

    TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 18: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Florida Panthers takes a shootout attempt against Tampa Bay Lightning during the shootout period at the Amalie Arena on October 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

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

    So I’m watching Ducks/Flames on Tuesday night. Wild game. Lots of penalties. And for an increasingly probable first-round matchup, that’s something to keep an eye on for sure.

    But the weirdest thing happened. Early in the second period, Patrick Eaves scored a rebound goal on a nice faceoff play by Ryan Getzlaf, and the Ducks announcers say, “Oh that’s his 31st goal of the season.” And I was half-paying attention so I thought they meant Getzlaf has 31 assists or something.

    (For the record, Getzlaf very quietly has FIFTY-FOUR! The media will not cover this.)

    But you can understand my disbelief. There’s simply no way Patrick freaking Eaves has 31 goals this year,

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Previewing the Frozen Four matchups

    CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 5: Denver Pioneers hit the ice for practice on April 5, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois at the United Center. The DU will take on Norte Dame in the 2017 Frozen Four National semifinal. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

    It’s not all chalk in Chicago this week.

    Sure, the top-seeded team is there. And the No. 2 seed is there. And so is the No. 3. But the No. 13 seed is in the mix, too, and they had the hardest possible path.

    The Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a poor start and a whopper of a second half to qualify, even if they crashed out of the Hockey East tournament in the semifinals. But then they put down the No. 4 seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and overcame their own personal boogeymen in No. 5 UMass Lowell. Now they face the University of Denver Pioneers, the best team in the country for the vast majority of the season, in the second of tonight’s national semifinals.

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