Ryan Lambert

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Who will win the ECAC?

    Union College
    Union College

    Earlier this season we talked about Union’s turnaround after a couple of down years and how they’d made some changes that allowed them to roar out of the gate in non-conference play.

    A month and a half later, the Dutchmen have continued that trend in the ECAC as well, climbing to an 8-1-1 league record. But even with just one loss from 10 games, their lead isn’t what you could call comfortable. Just one point back is St. Lawrence, and four behind them (with one extra game played) is perennial conference powerhouse Quinnipiac.

    It’s starting to look like that’s the top three in the conference, though Harvard and Cornell, with their late Ivy-League starts, could make up some of that ground if they win a good amount of their games in hand. But let’s just go with the premise that QU, SLU, and Union have all gotten out to this fast start and will stay a bit ahead of the pack once break comes to an end. It’s not hard to see Harvard hanging in the top-three at the end of the year,

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  • Puck Lists: 11 goalies whose teams wasted their legendary performances

    Getty Images

    This week’s Puck List is actually a request.

    Sparked by the likelihood that Ryan Miller, a goalie who ranks in the top-30 all-time for save percentage but is likely to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in his 12-year career, Andrew Ruestow wanted to know about some historically great goalies on historically bad teams.

    Obviously Miller is going to be up there, but Dominik Hasek is the best goaltender of all time and didn’t get out of the first round of the postseason until he was 33 years old. Now that’s futility.

    Anyway, I took the example nice kind cool Andrew provided — and by all means if you have requests, send ’em in via Twitter or the email address down below — and spun off it a bit (mainly because team winning percentages are hard to separate from goalie winning percentages).

    Instead, here is a list of some of the best goaltending performances of all time that somehow did not result in a playoff berth.

    The criteria here was simple: Goalies with save percentages of more than

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  • Why NHL’s forced parity ultimately hurts its goals (What We Learned)

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    So much parity in the NHL today. That’s what they keep saying.

    And the league says that’s a selling point: Any team can win any game and it’s really not that big of a surprise. If Colorado played Pittsburgh tomorrow there’s probably only about a 58 percent chance the Penguins win. If the best team in the NBA played the worst at the same time, the game would most likely be a 25-point blowout by halftime. We’re told by Gary Bettman that this is somehow good and not at all wrong or bad.

    But what the Penguins and their buddies in the Metro division are doing right now, by dominating the sport in a way we haven’t really seen in some time, is awesome in its own right. Currently, five of the league’s seven best teams from a points-winning perspective are from one division, and all but ensure that Metro will put five teams in the playoffs in a way the Central used to (and, I guess, still might).

    But there’s difference between what the Central Divisions of the past did and today’s Metro is

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  • Why Connor McDavid already has NHL MVP locked up (Trending Topics)

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    The Edmonton Oilers are tied for second in their division right now, which is probably a little higher than a lot of people might have expected more than a third of the way through the season.

    There’s no doubt they’ve benefited from playing a fairly easy schedule to this point — they currently rank 27th in the NHL — but there have been plenty of ups and downs even through 32 games.

    They won seven of their first eight games. Then they lost eight of their next 10. Then they won three in a row, then lost three in a row. After that, more losses broken up only by some intermittent winning and the ability to get to overtime somewhat regularly. So while they’re second in the division, against weak competition, it’s not exactly an inspiring position for them overall.

    But what’s interesting about this is that the Oilers have been two very different teams so far this year. There’s Edmonton with Connor McDavid on the ice, a nearly unstoppable force to rival any level of production seen in the NHL

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  • Puck Lists: 8 NHL teen rookies that scored like Laine, Matthews

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    Patrik Laine has 17 goals in his first 32 NHL games. That’s really good.

    It’s actually third in the NHL as I write this, which is a good place for anyone to be, let alone a kid who won’t even turn 19 until April.

    But the thing is, Laine isn’t even a lock for rookie of the year, because Auston Matthews, who’s several months older and went one spot earlier in June’s draft, is also having an historically good season for the Maple Leafs. And he’s arguably doing it with less help than Laine. In all, Matthews has 13 goals in his first 28 games, and that puts him a tie for ninth in the league, which is also very good for a teenager.

    How good are these numbers both guys are putting up? So good it almost never happens. Simply put, the vast, vast, vast majority of teenagers in the NHL don’t score this many goals or even come close.

    Let’s set the baseline here: Matthews is trailing a little bit in terms of goals per game, at 0.46 (what a bum!), which currently puts him on a pace for 38. The

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    (In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    9 – Brandon Manning

    So Brandon Manning apparently told Connor McDavid, who never says a bad thing about anyone for any reason because he’s not programmed to do so, that he tried to injure him on purpose. And Connor McDavid, who is so quiet you hardly even remember he’s there, was understandably mad about it.

    And people’s reaction was, “Well we just don’t know!” Oh I think we do know. Connor McDavid, the kind young man who has never been anything but nice to anyone said it so we know. Why would he make that up now, and not, say, a year ago? Probably because Manning, a cruel boy, said it last week. Doesn’t mean Manning necessarily tried to hurt him at the time. Totally possible that it was just trash talk, and pretty effective trash talk at that, apparently.

    But do I believe that Manning said it strictly on the basis that McDavid says he did? Yeah.

    Connor McDavid, who is

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Bemidji State still well-positioned in WCHA

    Bemidji State
    Bemidji State

    Don’t look now, but the Bemidji State Beavers are shuffling a little bit.

    That is to say they’re 1-1-1 in their last three games, coming off this weekend’s three-point series against Lake State. And that’s a big drop for the Beavers. Before this little stretch of so-so results, 12-0-1 in WCHA play, and 12-4-1 overall.

    That’s a pretty solid conference position in which to find yourself heading into your holiday break (after they presumably get run over in a home-and-home against No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth this weekend), because it would take a monumental collapse for them to drop out of one of the top two spots in the WCHA.

    [Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest now]

    Now, any time you’re talking about how good a team from that conference is or isn’t you have to take into account that the conference has some problems. The top two teams or so in it are consistently going to be competitive against non-conference foes, and probably a lot better than what they play

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  • In praise of the Columbus Blue Jackets (What We Learned)

    TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 25: Brandon Saad #20 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates after scoring during the third period in the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on November 25, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Early in the season there were a lot of reasons to be skeptical of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    They were awful last year (due to many factors), their coach was demonstrably doing a bad job and they’d made very few changes in the summer thanks to a raft of pretty rotten contracts. And yet by mid-November, they were inexplicably 8-4-2.

    But it was one of those things, though: Bad possession team getting every bounce to go their way for about four weeks.

    After all, they’d scored eight on St. Louis and 10 on Montreal to account for a lot of their high-level offense, then had a lot of one-goal decisions that, in the end, are usually coin flips. Moreover, they’d gone to OT five times in 14 games and come out 3-2. Lots of bonus points there, and in regulation that meant they were a mere 5-4, which is probably more in line with what you’d expect from a team like this.

    Again, they were simply not good in “the process.” In those first 14 games of the season, Columbus had an adjusted CF% of 47.8

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  • A theory about the Vancouver Canucks' start (Trending Topics)

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 06: Alexandre Burrows #14 of the Vancouver Canucks and the rest of his teammates on the bench watch the replay of Henrik Sedin's goal in the third period against the New Jersey Devils on December 6, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Alexandre Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks and the rest of his teammates on the bench during a game against the New Jersey Devils on December 6, 2016, at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Getty Images)

     

    Fan theories are all the rage these days.

    As “prestige TV” becomes more popular and widespread, the number of shows that have mysteries for fans to unpack grows exponentially. Probably you can blame Lost for a lot of that — fans never did find out the story with the time traveling rowboat — but TV these days is now just fan theory central. The nerdy McPoyle on Westworld turned out to be Ed Harris, Jon Snow turned out to be the (potentially trueborn) son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, and so on.

    With this in mind, I’ve got a fan theory for you. It’s one that flies in the face of current thinking in the NHL and even subverts my own previous assumptions. It’s about the Vancouver Canucks, and more specifically their management.

    The theory is this: Jim Benning and Trevor

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  • Puck Lists: 7 reasons Brent Burns should be the Norris frontrunner

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks during the preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks during a preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016, in Glendale, Arizona. (Getty Images)

     

    I know it’s only December and teams have only played about 25 games so far this season.

    I know that.

    But 25 games is a decent number and everything, and it at least gives you some sort of idea of what the benchmark for success is. Will Patrik Laine keep up his molten goalscoring pace? I don’t know, but someone has to surpass the baseline he set, won’t they? And hey, it’s starting to look like Connor McDavid has edged into “best player alive” territory. Look at the point total alone. Tough to disagree there, and if someone wants to make a counterargument, well, that’s the guy to see about it.

    Anyway, I say all this because Brent Burns has been the best defenseman in the league this year and I don’t think it’s especially close. Travis Yost did a fairly advanced take on this the other day, but not so advanced you’re going to

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