Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Seth Jones for Sochi Olympics

    Getty ImagesHello, 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.

    Earlier this week, David Poile, GM of both the U.S. Olympic team and Nashville Predators, was on the radio in Montreal. He noted that while he has been impressed with the play of young American players like Jacob Trouba, Alex Galchenyuk and Seth Jones, “2014 may not be their time” to make the U.S. team.

    However, any reasonable observer would have to assume that at least part of that quote is just a general manager playing down the fact that his own highly-valued rookie should be considered a mortal lock to make the cut. The fact of the matter is that you'd be hard-pressed to find many American defensemen better than Jones, let alone any who also happen to be 19 years old.

    Saturday night was one of his more mediocre games this season, and the Preds got

    Read More »from What We Learned: Seth Jones for Sochi Olympics
  • Getty ImagesLet's first acknowledge that it's not the Buffalo Sabres' fault that they are the way they are.

    Every cheap hit in the last few years, every embarrassing fistic melodrama, is entirely the fault of Milan Lucic for running over Ryan Miller and getting away with it.

    This was not only on the ice when no one from the Sabres tried to fight him in the immediate aftermath, but also because the League barely even gave the incident a second look. Dug a deep chip into the organization's shoulder, and ever since the league — including the Bruins (but not Lucic himself) — has been paying the price.

    That incident led the Sabres' abhorrent and incompetent general manager to go out that summer and acquire John Scott and Steve Ott in a misguided and ultimately tragic pursuit of "toughness," and that summer also gave Patrick Kaleta a three-year extension for the exact same idiotic reason.

    The incident in which Scott tried to hit Loui Eriksson's head, in such a way that it screwed up and off his body like a bottle cap, is just the latest point which highlights why the Sabres don't deserve to even compete in the National Hockey League this season, and the reasons why are obvious.

    Read More »from Buffalo Sabres are a complete embarrassment, from John Scott to owner (Trending Topics)
  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Hometowns, hot starts and horrible humans

    Getty Images[Author's note: Every sports website on earth dedicated to covering just one league publishes a weekly power ranking, and we here at Puck Daddy have finally decided to do the same. However, the problem with power rankings in general is that they 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.]

    8. Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

    There was a time when I harboured (haha) no ill will toward any of Halifax's suburbs, but those days are gone.

    Did you know this sleepy rich-kid town of Cole Harbour has produced two No. 1 NHL picks in the last eight years?

    It's true!

    Of course, the hockey world just couldn't get enough of this backwater burgh this week, given that Sid Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon — who are both from there wow!!! — played each other for the first time ever this week, and the whole town's denizens packed themselves, dead-eyed and joyless, into a sports bar the size of a small supermarket to see them combine for no points and Crosby finish a minus-1.

    Why don't we make a big deal like this out of every game? Patrick Kane and Nick Foligno — two first-round picks! — are both from Buffalo. Oh right, no one cares about Buffalo. The NHL isn't dispatching writers to Vienna whenever Thomas Vanek and Andreas Nodl play each other.

    Cole Harbour's Wikipedia page says some UFC fighter I've never heard of is from there too. And a guy from the Trailer Park Boys. Let's get all of them together for the game in Denver later this year, get everyone out to Big Leagues, and hope no one ever talks about it this much again.

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Hometowns, hot starts and horrible humans
  • Getty ImagesHello, 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.

    It's very easy to think of the KHL as a backwater league not worth the attention of anyone outside former Soviet Bloc countries. The league collects players who, for some reason or another, can't hack it in the NHL; and when highlights do make it across the oceans they seem in large part to show a deeply inferior and laughably weird league.

    The number of horror stories you hear about the KHL is also high. Players not getting paid. Players maybe getting blackmailed. The shadowy specter of vaguely scary and definitely armed oligarchs hanging over the league's richest teams while the poorest field teams that would kill to have a few has-beens to mix in with their never-wases. The abominable playing, medical, and travel conditions. And so on.

    For everything that's wrong with the NHL, at least it isn't the KHL.

    The problem with the world's greatest league is that it is intransigent when it comes to so many things that make the league safer; and even when it does move, all anyone really does is complain.

    There's already been so much curmudgeonry this season about hybrid icing that you'd think a blown call is worse than a broken ankle. The fighting debate is growing obnoxious because its most vocal supporters can't just admit they want to watch MMA on ice. And we're about three years away from purists bemoaning the influx of visors for making the sport to European or something.

    So when there's a rash of players being stretchered off the ice as a result of dirty hits, and everyone starts talking about how important it is to get the rats out of the game forever, the number of solutions offered for doing so remains more or less at zero, more or less steadfastly. "You just can't force these guys out of the game!" is a pretty common cry these days, even as everyone agrees that maybe you probably should.

    The problem is that the league has shown little interest in trying to legislate them out.

    Read More »from What We Learned: Why NHL should be embarrassed about its player safety standards
  • Hockey’s value system is perhaps irreparably broken (Trending Topics)

    Getty ImagesIn the past few years or so we've gotten to see entirely too many hits doled out by the true villains of the NHL against some of its better players. Patrick Kaleta on Jack Johnson and Maxim Lapierre on Dan Boyle obviously stand out the most, mainly because they were committed by itinerant and inveterate scourges on the sport and happened within the last week or so.

    This has obviously led to a never-ending discussion on how we get "the rats," who play only to hurt and serve little to no other purpose as hockey players, out of the game for the good of the sport. It is they the fighters are meant to protect star players from, and it is they who seem wholly undeterred by those fighters presence. In this way they not only disrespect their opponents — what with the constant attempts to injure — but also The Code, and that is perhaps their greatest crime of all.

    Another massive crime that players in this sport can commit, which was recently illustrated by the case of Nail Yakupov being healthy-scratched by Dallas Eakins, is if they do not show a commitment to the game in all three zones. People seized on Yakupov's declaration that he doesn't like to backcheck — and wholly ignored his lack of fluency in the language in which he spoke those words — as evidence that the Oilers should (nay, will) trade the No. 1 overall pick less than a full season after they drafted him.

    Who cares if the rumored return for a potential star forward would be a 30-year-old left wing who would create a bit of a logjam on their top line what with Taylor Hall already being the elitest of the elite at that position and a 33-year-old goaltender with a no-trade clause? Who cares if both of those guys are going to be UFAs and likely want no part of spending the next seven or eight winters in Edmonton as if Buffalo's weren't bad enough? Did you see that thing he said about backchecking? It's unforgivable.

    Read More »from Hockey’s value system is perhaps irreparably broken (Trending Topics)
  • Getty Images

    By Ryan Lambert

    [Author's note: Every sports website on earth dedicated to covering just one league publishes a weekly power ranking, and we here at Puck Daddy have finally decided to do the same. However, the problem with power rankings in general is that they 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. That Team You Hate

    After receiving many complaints about the fact that these Power Rankings are not real — or rather, not traditional power rankings; they remain quite real and you can tell because you are reading them as we speak — due to the lack of actual teams being in them, I decided to start doing things your way.

    Why are

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Ladies who love Blackhawks; crackpot Leafs theories; Pat Kaleta
  • What We Learned: Flames must ignore temptation, demote Sean Monahan

    Getty ImagesHello, 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 Calgary Flames are, improbably enough, sitting in an extremely good position: eight points from their first five games, no regulation losses, and playing a genuinely entertaining and exciting brand of hockey.

    Anyone who has watched the team in the last three years knows that any of those three occurrences happening at any given time was a rarity, and certainly given that they sold anyone who was especially good or at least still had trade value last spring, this is an extremely surprising turn of events. The reason for it, of course, is luck. The Flames have failed to lose their first five games in regulation despite having both Joey MacDonald and Kari Ramo posting .897 save percentages, the skaters posting a corsi-for percentage of just 46.7, and their PDO through those five was 108.6, second in the league behind only San Jose.

    Nonetheless, the underlying numbers have done nothing to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for the Flames in Calgary, where no team has ever started a season like this. A big part of the reason that's the case is the fact that Sean Monahan, the sixth overall pick in this summer's draft and the center upon whom Jay Feaster is essentially staking his reputation, has been positively electrifying.

    Calgary has played five games, and he has points in all of them. His four goals are double what the next-closest players on the team have. His most recent tally was a late and very nice game-winner. He has been in every way a revelation for coach Bob Hartley and his time on ice has gone up steadily as a result, from 11:40 in his first game to 16:31 in his fifth, in a trend that only seems likely to continue, though as you might imagine exactly zero seconds of that has been played on the penalty kill.

    As a junior-eligible rookie — he just turned 19 on Saturday — has four games left in his tryout period with the Flames, at which point the team will have to make a decision about whether to keep him up with the big club or send him back to Ottawa of the OHL for another year. Given that he's point-a-game and the rumblings that he's "making it hard" for the Flames to stash him away for another year for a good week at this point, it looks for all the world as though the Flames are going to keep him.

    And they absolutely shouldn't.

    Read More »from What We Learned: Flames must ignore temptation, demote Sean Monahan
  • Getty ImagesSuppose there's a man who goes to the hospital because he isn't feeling well, and the doctor who checks him out runs all the tests and tells him that he, unfortunately, has a very serious illness. Even with treatment, he's given a 1 percent chance to survive for a year.

    Upon learning this terrible news, his family, which is very religious, begins the business of praying for him, very hard and very often. They enlist the help of prayer groups and so on in their quest to heal this gravely ill man who has little chance of survival. But following 12 months of intense treatment, he is given a clean bill of health.

    The question, then, is what led to this seemingly miraculous turn of events. Was he just part of that 1 percent statistic who responded well enough to treatment that he beat the crushingly impossible odds? Was all the hours and energy devoted by family and friends to praying for him what got him through this terrible, dark time? Was it a combination of both? Or does it even matter at all as long as everything worked out?

    His doctors would probably say that it was their work that did it all. The family members would probably say that it was the prayer that helped him, either entirely or partly. You couldn't tell the doctors anything that would diminish their absolute belief in their treatments' effects, and you couldn't convince the family that everything they poured into their prayer had no effect.

    As you might expect, a large amount of scientific effort has been concentrated over the last 150 years or so on determining what effect The Power of Prayer has on medical conditions, if any. The problem there, as with the above evidence (or, if you prefer, "evidence"), is that even if you could prove definitively that it worked or didn't, people would still sit there and say that your study was all B.S. anyway. Devout people tend to be healthier in general, but is that because of their religion or just some random thing? Who knows? What's the difference? Prayer is the most used non-medical or pseudo-medical treatment in the world to "treat" illness.

    It's an interesting debate, and one where most people are going to land on one side or the other. Fence-straddlers have little place here, and certainly no one on either side has a second to spare for their arguments.

    Which of course reminds one of the current fighting debate in the NHL. The Power of Pugilism is backed by one side and decried by another. The battle lines have all been drawn and everyone is pretty well dug-in at this point, with very few if any occupying the no-man's land between them. Both sides believe in their heart of hearts that they are right about the debate.

    Read More »from On players’ opinion of fighting and whether it’s of any consequence (Trending Topics)
  • [Author's note: Every sports website on earth dedicated to covering just one league publishes a weekly power ranking, and we here at Puck Daddy have finally decided to do the same. However, the problem with power rankings in general is that they 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.]

    Dead Last: Congressional Lawmakers

    (I know I know: "Grumble grumble who brings up politics in hockey blog posts apart from lefty liberal commies?" Shut up.)

    The federal shutdown is now eight days old and no progress is even on the horizon as Republicans pointlessly dig in their heels about something that's already a law. Hundreds of thousands of government workers nationwide going without pay, women and children on welfare not getting fed. No one thinks this is good (except the truly ghoulish who have a "It doesn't affect me so it's not my problem" attitude about it).

    But did you know the shutdown is even affecting hockey?

    It's true. Army and Air Force's Division 1 NCAA hockey teams were both slated to begin play this coming weekend, but that is very much up in the air as a result of the government impasse.

    Army's game at Penn State is either on or off, depending on who you ask and when you ask it. First it was going to happen and then it wasn't but now it apparently is again. That's starting to look pretty finalized, which is good news.

    Air Force is expected to play this weekend, according to the latest news.

    The Falcons were supposed to play an exhibition game on Monday night but that got canceled, as did all other athletic competitions, for all sports, until the shutdown is resolved.

    And you thought Gary Bettman and Jeremy Jacobs were bad.

    As the above-linked College Hockey News report says, the reason Army seems to be able to play is only because most of its athletic department is made up of civilians, rather than actual military employees, who are of course "non-essential" government workers. Air Force's is made up mostly of military men and women, some of whom seem to have been furloughed.

    This is a real bummer, and if literal starving children won't budge elected officials from a certain you-know-which party, unfortunately college hockey's not going to either.

    Figure it out nitwits. I'm looking at you Ted Cruz; as a born Canadian you know how important this is.

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Government shutdown, nerds, goals scored and stupid jokes bring the heat
  • What We Learned: Body-crushing inevitability of Alex Burrows’ injury

    Getty Images[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.]

    Sometimes the storylines just write themselves and you gotta let it wash over you like an acid bath and sure you're screaming in pain but let's not act like it wasn't inevitable.

    At some point there was going to be a Canuck who picked up an injury of some kind while blocking a shot, and the inquest into the morality and prudence of The Tortorella System could formally begin. It wouldn't have mattered if a fourth-line guy picked up a leg bruise that held him out of practice for a day, or what happened in this case: the Canucks' third- or fourth-most important forward selling out to block a shot on a 5-on-3 PK in the first game of the season and putting himself on the shelf for what could be a "couple of weeks."

    Après Burrows, le deluge.

    The Vancouver media has as you might have expected already launched into a Eugene Melnyk-like forensic investigation of the efficacy of shot-blocking as a strategy that works in the National Hockey League. In the piece linked above, Steve Ewen notes that the Rangers were sixth in the league in blocked shots last year compared with the Canucks' 27th. The thinking once was, but certainly now no longer is, that an achieving of some kind of average between the two might be what Vancouver needs to return to its heyday of two, three, four years ago. Rather than, say, a way to reverse the aging process for what is now the fourth-oldest team in the league.

    The problem is that Burrows is one of the team's top penalty killers and without him in the lineup for what could be a fortnight or perhaps more, someone has to pick up the slack. That's another player that will be asked to block shots and potentially face injury as a consequence.

    Oh no, what if it's a Sedin? Do you think maybe that's why Alain Vigneault didn't let them kill penalties? The Canucks media has been clamoring for them to get the chance to get some shorthanded shifts since the start of the offseason, because the Sedins themselves want to do it, but just imagine what happens if Daniel catches a puck in the hand and breaks a pinkie while he's killing penalties.

    Pandemonium. A throng of reporters waiting outside the Tortorella residence. Effigy burnings. Nothing seems out of the question.

    Injuries happen. All the time. For a lot of different reasons that often don't have anything to do with shot-blocking. Last season the Canucks — block averse as they were — actually had more man-games lost to injury than the Rangers. Ditto the year before. And before that. And the year befo… well you get the picture. Is shot-blocking going to lead to more injuries than not-blocking? Yeah, of course it is. The puck is hard and moving really fast and guys don't have protection on their skates and that's what happens.

    Everyone knew that a few months ago when Tortorella was hired.

    Read More »from What We Learned: Body-crushing inevitability of Alex Burrows’ injury

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