Ryan Lambert

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  • The Matt Beleskey question (Trending Topics)

    As a hockey community, collectively, we look at what Matt Beleskey is doing in this postseason and say, “Well, someone's going to overpay him this summer.”

    And as is usually the case with pending unrestricted free agents who overperform during deep playoff runs, that belief is correct. Someone is going to look at what Beleskey is doing — and let's be honest, a 7-1-8 line in 14 games really isn't that great — and say, “Yes please, here's a bunch of money.” Almost every year, without fail.

    These almost always turn into contracts that are looked upon with regret by fans and team alike; Chicago would certainly prefer to not be paying Bryan Bickell what it does, in much the same way that the early days of Joel Ward's now-expiring deal were, well, not great. Witness also, most of the 2011 Bruins who got new deals from Peter Chiarelli since then. As has long been discussed, the ability to perform at a higher level in the playoffs makes you a “warrior” and a “hero” as long as your team gets

    Read More »from The Matt Beleskey question (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Blackhawks playing dangerous game on defense

    (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.)

    Prior to Sunday night's game, very few players were in the same stratosphere in terms of minutes played as the Chicago defense.

    In terms of minutes per game, Chicago's top-four ranked second, eighth, 11th, and 14th among playoff players in terms of minutes per game at 5-on-5, which is crazy. . And granted, that comes with the caveat that Chicago is obviously playing a ton of overtime this postseason — 151:38 to be exact, a little more than two-and-a-half extra games — but nonetheless, there's a lot of work being given to what are, essentially, just four guys.

    Right now, Chicago has four defensemen averaging at least 25:52 per night, while the other three they've used (Kyle Cumiskey, David Rundblad, and Kimmo Timonen) are basically getting the minutes

    Read More »from What We Learned: Blackhawks playing dangerous game on defense
  • What Mike Babcock can actually do for Maple Leafs (Trending Topics)

    You can be 100 percent sure of two things with Mike Babcock going to Toronto: 

    1) The amount of money he's being paid literally doesn't matter at all to the club.

    2) The Leafs' management did more due diligence from a statistical point of view than most other teams would have.

    So with the first issue in mind, let's stop fretting about how much money he's being paid — even if $50 million over eight seasons is, indeed, a lot — because they gave David Clarkson almost as much, and Babcock doesn't count against the cap.

    But if you're paying your coach that much money, it doesn't matter how big your Scrooge McDuck vault is: He needs to produce.

    And the Leafs have indeed had a production problem for a good long while now. The last time they were a positive possession team for the entirety of a season it was 2009-10. (And a fat lot of good that did them because they finished with 74 points that year, their second-worst total since 1998, eclipsed only by this past season's disaster.) 

    Now, with

    Read More »from What Mike Babcock can actually do for Maple Leafs (Trending Topics)
  • [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.] 

    10. Sore losers

    Russia didn't win the gold medal game so they left the ice to cry about it instead. They're the worst.

    9. Martin St. Louis

    While everyone has been busy talking about what a big-time loser idiot Rick Nash has been for the Rangers in this postseason (unfairly), no one seems to be batting an eye at the fact that 92-year-old Marty St. Louis has been overpaid hot garbage for the Rangers.

    In exchange for their $5.625 million against the cap this year, the Rangers got possession well below even, a hugely percentage-fueled 52 points and a pathetic

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Marty St. Louis struggles, Michel Therrien’s problems
  • Ryan Kesler vs. Jonathan Toews makes everyone happier (Trending Topics)

    There was no shortage of coverage for the return of Ryan Kesler's team playing Jonathan Toews's team in the postseason, and what that meant for their personal rivalry. In short, these are two players who do not like each other. But beyond the war of words both through the media and on the ice, the Kesler/Toews matchup presents a series of rather interesting circumstances for all involved. 

    One of the big things that was going to be most interesting for me in this series was seeing how Joel Quenneville and Bruce Boudreau matched lines against each other. These are two teams with high-quality first and second lines, and each has the ability to do significant damage to opponents.

    Anaheim can roll Maroon/Getzlaf/Perry against anyone in the league and feel pretty good about its chances, and the Beleskey/Kesler/Silfverberg second unit has been paying dividends basically all postseason. Likewise, Chicago's Saad/Toews/Hossa and Bickell/Richards/Kane groups are dangerous at all times. So who

    Read More »from Ryan Kesler vs. Jonathan Toews makes everyone happier (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Why is Rick Nash so bad in the playoffs?

    (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.) 

    Each year, the New York Rangers make the playoffs. Each year, Rick Nash is criticized for not producing.

    This kind of thing is common in hockey, of course. Sidney Crosby has faced it. Alex Ovechkin has faced it. If you put up a lot of points in the regular season and then not-a-lot in the playoffs, especially if your team is unceremoniously bounced, then you get called out. No one would ever mistake Nash for a player of Crosby’s or Ovechkin’s level; he’s long been an All-Star but never has he been in the conversation for “best in the world." 

    But as far as Rangers go, he’s certainly the best they’ve got up front. He averages 0.47 goals per game over his career on Broadway, and he’s pushing 400 in the regular season since he broke into the league in

    Read More »from What We Learned: Why is Rick Nash so bad in the playoffs?
  • Alex Ovechkin and the end of playoff choker label (Trending Topics)

    The NHL's Eastern Conference Final begin Saturday afternoon, and for the 10th season running, Alex Ovechkin will not be participating.

    For years, Ovechkin has been dogged by criticisms of his play, and particularly that in the postseason, because for as good as he is and basically always has been, he's never been able to guide the Washington Capitals past the second round of the playoffs. And he's only even gotten that far four times; that's only one more trip than the number of times the Caps have missed the playoffs entirely with him on the roster.

    But the good news is that people seem to finally be starting to realize, “Hey, maybe literally all those Capitals teams just weren't good enough, and Ovechkin couldn't be superhuman in comparison with his already-superhuman performances in the regular season.”

    Joel Ward's quote from just before Wednesday's fateful Game 7 about the horrible randomness of hockey dictating results so often going against what the math says is telling in that

    Read More »from Alex Ovechkin and the end of playoff choker label (Trending Topics)
  • [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. Guarantees

    Alex Ovechkin is human garbage to make a guarantee!!!!!!!

    Not like Great Leader Mark Messier, who is a perfect angel. Ovechkin is bad.

    6. Blind faith

    On some level you have to stick by your guy if you let him fire the coach and steer your team rather cavalierly into the ground — you don't want to look ineffectual, after all — but the extent to which Sharks owner Hasso Plattner defended Doug Wilson this week was simply breathtaking. A small sampling follows.

    Hoping Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, in their advanced age, will improve:

    We are in

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Alex Ovechkin’s guarantee, Mike Babcock and blind faith
  • Why Calgary Flames can't buy their own hype (Trending Topics)

    So the Calgary Flames were eliminated on Sunday night and that's fair enough. The Anaheim Ducks were and are a much better team. But the important part here is the lesson they can take from that opponent.

    For the last few years, the Ducks were criticized heavily for their inability to get too deep in the playoffs. They'd rack up a bunch of points in the regular season (an average of 102 per 82-game season in the last four) then lose in the playoffs, often in embarrassing fashion, and then work to figure things out over the summer with little success. It wasn't until this year, when a stock of young talent shored up the team's depth while Bob Murray went out and got a legitimate, defensively responsible No. 2 center in Ryan Kesler to help ease the usage on the Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry duo.

    And it worked. The Ducks posted the third-best regular season in franchise history, and have now gone 8-1 in two playoff series (albeit against a banged-up Jets team and a poor Flames club). While

    Read More »from Why Calgary Flames can't buy their own hype (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Are bigger nets really answer to NHL scoring woes?

    (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 difference is just 1.21 inches. That's about the size of a U.S. half-dollar. And yet in the NHL, it seems to be everything.

    Or so people would have you believe.

    That number is the difference in size between the average NHL goaltender in 1983-84 to present. And among many other things, that has lately been attributed to the much, much smaller number of goals being scored in the average NHL game. Over that same span — and this is a bizarre coincidence — the average number of goals scored per team per game is down... 1.21.

    Yup, add in everything from bigger pads and better training to larger players and improved theory, and goaltenders today have become dominant, near-invincible juggernauts who loom over results like malevolent clouds, ready to render

    Read More »from What We Learned: Are bigger nets really answer to NHL scoring woes?

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