Ryan Lambert

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  • Why clutch players are a complete illusion (Trending Topics)

    At this point, the Chicago dynasty has proven time and again that it simply Knows How To Win.

    This is a team that is battle-tested and always comes out on top no matter how good the opponent. When chips are down, you can count on Chicago to win.

    (Except when they don't, like 2014, 2012 and 2011.) 

    There's a lot of hero-making that goes on this time of year, and no wonder. Guys lift up a big, shiny trophy three times in six years in the cap era — or hell, any era — and you say, “There go some Real Winners.” That's why so many second-pairing defensemen from those great Montreal teams are in the Hall of Fame. That's why Chris Osgood has any semblance of a chance at making it there too, and next year he won't be going up against Dominik Hasek. Win a Cup and you're a Winner, and that's something that follows you for the rest of your career and beyond.

    And by just about any token, there are probably as many as four future Hall of Famers on Chicago's roster right now, as I'm thinking Jonathan

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  • What We Learned: Best Stanley Cup Final in recent memory?

    (Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekends events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) 

    There is a lot of reason to praise the level of hockey seen over the five games of this year’s Stanley Cup Final. That’s mainly because there’s so little separating the two teams.

    And this comes after two very good Conference finals as well, which themselves were preceded by terminally boring opening rounds. Whattaya know: When good teams play each other, the results are entertaining. (Unless they’re playing deeply negative hockey.)

    But more than that, we’ve seen little besides ugly Stanley Cup Finals over the last few years. Lopsided affairs like Rangers/Kings last season, and both of the previous two only went six games as well. (It’s hard to have any patience for people who allege a given six-game series was close; in such a series, the losing team

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  • On Duncan Keith's amazing postseason (Trending Topics)

    The amount of minutes Duncan Keith has logged in this postseason is historic. In the salary cap era, no one has even come close to approaching it.

    Wednesday night's contest got him up to more than 500 minutes of 5-on-5 time, making him one of just three guys in the last 10 seasons to clear that milestone. The other two are Dennis Seidenberg with Boston in 2011 (500:59) and Drew Doughty last season (528:59). They required 25 and 26 games, respectively, to get there. Keith got to 506:58 it in just 21. If the series goes three more games, he still won't match their games-played number, but he'll have blown by Doughty. Hell, based on what we've seen so far in this series, he'll probably do it in Game 22.

    What's amazing is that he's not just playing all these minutes, but rather that he's playing dominant hockey for all these minutes. By just about any measure, Chicago dominates its opponents when Keith is on the ice versus when he's off — possession, high-quality chances, goals, etc. — and

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  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Ben Bishop’s injury, Dougie Hamilton, copycats

    [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.]  

    7. Ben Bishop's injury

    Gotta love the controversy that has sprung up around Ben Bishop maybe-maybe-not-but-probably-yes injury picked up in Game 2. (My bet is still that he had to take a big ol' dump.)

    Now, every time he moves side to side, Pierre yells, “Oh my god Doc and Eddie he's hurt real bad and I can see the blood coming out of his ears,” even as he stops — what was it again? Oh right — 36 saves in a road win.

    At what point do we begin to entertain the possibility that this whole circus was caused by an overreaction from the media and coy

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  • Split up Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane forever (Trending Topics)

    The second after Chicago lost on Saturday night in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, the conversation shifted to whether Joel Quenneville should be using Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane together. 

    The coach kept them together with Brandon Saad in Games 1 and 2 of this series, as a sort of bet-hedging against the kind of line-matching mind games coaches can find themselves worked into at this time of year. Whether it worked is a subject for much debate; they were held goalless in both games, marginally out-attempted, and certainly outscored by Tampa's little-heralded third line. Not the best look, especially because they were still starting in the attacking zone more often than not.

    But at the same time, Chicago earned a road split, and against a team as good as Tampa, you have to at least call that something of a success. Certainly, that the team carried play when the big guns weren't on the ice — mostly through that successful third line, while the bizarre second line of Marian Hossa,

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  • What We Learned: Do Lightning have right defensive plan?

    (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 decision made by Jon Cooper ahead of Game 2 was one that probably should have gotten more attention than it did. For just the 10th time in 22 games in this postseason, the Lightning went with the traditional hockey setup of 12 forwards and six defensemen. The other 12 times, he's gone with 11 forwards and seven D.

    The reasoning behind the move was obvious: Cooper felt that he'd seen enough of Chicago in Game 1 to know what they wanted to do, and to match that he slotted oft-scratched and much-talked-about rookie Jonathan Drouin — a high-test speedster who's good on the puck and immensely talented — into the lineup at the expense of 21-year-old puck-moving D Nikita Nesterov.

    And it appeared to work out perfectly well for the Lightning, who won a nervy

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  • Should Teuvo Teravainen get more ice time? (Trending Topics)

    It's at once easy and difficult to find reasons to criticize Joel Quenneville over the last few years. The management of his roster has been strange to say the least — at times, anyway — but at the same time, you'd have to say it's working.

    Chicago is three wins away from a third Stanley Cup in six years, which is an unthinkable number in the forced-parity world of a salary-capped NHL. Under Quenneville, they've already won two Stanley Cups, gone to this Final, and taken trips to two additional Western Conference Finals as well. The only years in which they didn't advance at least that far were following the post-2010 Cup sell-off that saw them trade Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, and others to set themselves back for a couple of years. No one in the league can match that level of success, nor should they probably be able to do so in the first place. This much success is unfathomable.

    But again, the roster decisions, some of which have, to be fair, been forced by the team's cap

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  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Stanley Cup Final, Rick Nash, Bruce Boudreau

    [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.] 

    9. Brent Seabrook

    Brent Seabrook reportedly wants Shea Weber money and PK Subban years? He is 30 years old and a No. 2 defenseman. Good luck, Brent!

    8. Sitting on a lead

    Maybe if you're playing Chicago, a team that has proven over the last few years to be pretty okay at this “winning in the playoffs” thing, you don't try to sit on a one-goal lead for like 59:50. Tampa came out of the gate throwing bombs, couldn't get more than that one crazy tip-in past Corey Crawford (who, remember, is a Bad Playoff Goalie Who's Not Worth The Money!!!!), and then were just

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  • When you're over 30 and still in the National Hockey League, people — understandably — begin to check their watches. The wheels come off for everyone at some point, even Nicklas Lidstrom, and the modern game is very much a young man's. 

    Today's NHL is based on speed, if we're to believe the swirling fetishism surrounding how Fast and Big the last four teams in the league were. This is a copycat league, as anyone will happily tell you as though it's the first time you've ever heard such analysis, so the remaining 26 will look to cultivate big, fast rosters — because players like that are super-easy to find — in the near future.

    But skating speed isn't necessarily the be-all, end-all in this league. Hasn't been and won't be. Matt Lombardi was fast, but he was never great. Darren Helm is fast, and he's like the seventh-best forward on his own team. Speed alone doesn't make you great. Nor, obviously, does size; how many 6-foot-5 guys have washed out of this league having only made it on

    Read More »from How Marian Hossa is an ageless wonder for Chicago Blackhawks (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Tampa Bay Lightning's secret weapon

    (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. 

    At this point there should be no surprise that the teams which finished second and fourth in possession numbers during the NHL's regular season are advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

    You expect that from Chicago, of course. Chicago always finishes near the top of the league in this regard. You do not necessarily expect it from Tampa.

    Between this season and last, the Lightning took a major step forward, improving CF% by two whole percentage points and seven spots in the league. There are probably a lot of reasons why that happened, of course. Jon Cooper's system had another year in the hearts and minds of his charges, making everything he wanted to instill since Day 1 a little easier for those players to achieve. And the many young players on the roster

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