Ryan Lambert

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  • Hockey’s most obfuscating stat (What We Learned)

    (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.)

    Hockey, like all sports, is a results-oriented business. Don't win, and you're a failure more often than not, even if the not-winning can be attributed to something that is beyond your control. And of course, one of the biggest factors in winning games is your team's ability to score goals.

    Scoring goals is the thing in hockey, yeah? Preventing them too; and actually preventing them might be more important, because winning 5-4 every night is not a thing you can do reliably. But scoring goals in quantity over the course of a season is a really difficult thing to do unless you're piling up the shots.

    It stands to reason: You take more shots, you score more goals.

    But this, of course, doesn't always work out that way, whether it's over a stretch of 10, 20,

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  • So it appears as though the Leafs management finally has the clearance and will to start splashing some gasoline around the dressing room and throw a match over their shoulders as they close the door behind them.

    It's for the best. This Leafs team as it's currently constituted is no one's idea of good or competitive or anything else a team so close to the cap ceiling really ought to be. The reason Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas, et al were brought in this past summer was to really kick the tires on the roster and management situation and see if it needed to be overhauled.

    The obvious answer all along was 'yes', and so here we are. 

    But the thing is that as far as the Leafs are concerned, this is uncharted territory. Leafs do not engage in burn-it-down rebuilds. They try to rebuild on the fly. Which is what they've been doing with no success at all — unless you want to count that one playoff appearance, and if you do, haha — for more than a decade at this point. There are many schools of

    Read More »from If Maple Leafs are smart, this is their scorched earth rebuild blueprint (Trending Topics)
  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Lundqvist's injury; NHL in Las Vegas

    [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.]

    6. “One of the best goalies ever is hurt? No big deal!”

    I do not understand these people who say that losing Henrik Lundqvist for a month or more is of little consequence to the New York Rangers. The math behind it doesn't make sense, let alone the actual logic of saying out loud, “Oh yeah, no Lundqvist for a month is not in any way worrisome.”

    Like, okay, fine, Cam Talbot is an elite backup goalie whose play the last two seasons kind of makes you think he deserves a shot to start somewhere. This is the same logic applied to Anton Khudobin, who in one season

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Lundqvist's injury; NHL in Las Vegas
  • NCAA Hockey 101: BC is great, but their women's team is better

    The Boston College Eagles won their 18th game of the season, and are now 14-4-2 in their last 20 games.

    They're now scoring enough to make opponents nervous, and playing stingy enough defense that they're not eking out one-goal wins every night. They're arguably the most talented team in Hockey East, and might have the best blue line in the country. They're putting together a very credible assault on the top of the Hockey East standings, even if BU has a rather firm grip at the moment.

    And they look like a flaming pile of garbage compared to their women's team.

    On Friday night they won 6-0 against UConn, and in doing so improved to 27-0-1 on the year. The one tie, a freak 2-2 draw with St. Lawrence, came on Oct. 11, and they've won just about every one of the 25 games since in a walk.

    How dominant is this team? They've scored 152 goals in 28 games, more than 5.4 per night. And they've only allowed 31, slightly more than 1.1 per. And that basically tells the story: A goal differential

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  • Evander Kane's non-existent 'decline' (What We Learned)

    The Jets have been forced to sell low on Evander Kane, and whether it's this season or next you can bet he'll be traded to someone hoping to pick him up off the scrap heap and hope his shoulder fully heals.

    This is basically the very definition of selling low on a player, and certainly his attitude and how he's perceived by the locals is at least partly to blame for this. Come up with any number of excuses you like, but the truth is he isn't well liked in either the room or the stands, let alone the press box. That rumors of his being discontented with his situation in Winnipeg have been swirling for years should come as little surprise, and this was perhaps the worst possible end to the already-toxic relationship.

    There are a lot of reasons things seem to have soured in Winnipeg, but at least part of that comes from the idea that Kane is no longer the player he once was. Sure, he scored 30 in 74 games as a 20-year-old, but his goal total has declined in each of the last three seasons,

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  • Should a goalie ever win the Hart Trophy? (Trending Topics)

    It's getting to that point in the season when awards are being discussed more and more heavily. With fewer than 30 games left on the schedule for most teams, now seems as good a time as any. 

    Most people have pretty much already decided on who's going to get what awards in their minds. Giordano for Norris, Rinne for Vezina, etc. A few are still up in the air though, including the most important — or rather “Most Valuable” — one: The Hart.

    The concept of who deserves to win the Hart Trophy has always been a weird one. It is, generally, treated in the way that the Norris or Vezina is: An award granted to the best forward in the league. And typically, “best” means “highest-scoring.” Which is fine. Scoring the most points is generally the best way to provide the most value to your team. Not always, but usually.

    The last time a non-forward won it was 2002, when Jose Theodore took home both this award and the Vezina as the best goaltender in the league, whose .931 save percentage basically

    Read More »from Should a goalie ever win the Hart Trophy? (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. Shootout-haters

    Liking the shootout is a thing for which you would deserve much scorn were you ever dumb enough to actually do it.

    Accepting it, sure, that's one thing, but enjoying it? I don't know about all that. It's not going anywhere. The loser point is here to stay because this league so loves the phony parity it creates — look how close everyone is to a playoff spot even if they're total garbage — and because ties are, like, bad?

    Well the AHL came up with something cool and great that stops the shootout from happening anywhere near as much:

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Marc-Andre Fleury, Tyler Seguin and shootout haters
  • NCAA Hockey 101: North Dakota, BU and curse of No. 1 ranking this season

    (Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.)

    Look, people are always going to make a big deal out of being No. 1 in the country, and for the most part it is not a big deal at all. 

    It's an arbitrary ranking presided over by people who are ostensibly knowledgeable about the sport of college hockey but whose frame of reference is often limited to say the least. Most voters see two teams in any given week: The one they cover, and the one that plays the one they cover. Coaches and scouts also vote but they likewise don't have a real firm grasp on the national picture for the most part. And besides, it's tough to say that Western Team X is better than Eastern Team Y once you get past, say, the top five or six teams in the country.

    That said, being the No. 1 team in the country this season seems to bring with

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey 101: North Dakota, BU and curse of No. 1 ranking this season
  • What We Learned: Are the Winnipeg Jets going to blow playoff chance?

    (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 Winnipeg Jets are, at this moment, nicely ensconced in a playoff position, having taken 60 points from 51 games and leading the Kings by six points. As we know, six points is a long way out to find oneself at this point in the year.

    As recently as a few weeks ago, they looked poised to continue a march up the standings and potentially even threaten for a spot in the divisional playoffs (though the idea of playing one of St. Louis or Chicago in the first round isn't that much more appetizing than Anaheim or Nashville). People were calling them on of the biggest surprises in the league, and praising to the heavens what Paul Maurice has done with this club.

    And indeed, Maurice's work this year has for the most part been praiseworthy. They, the Winnipeg

    Read More »from What We Learned: Are the Winnipeg Jets going to blow playoff chance?
  • Sad truth about NHL playoff bubble teams (Trending Topics)

    With the trade deadline a little more than a month away and many teams already starting to make roster moves that will impact their competitiveness down the stretch (if they had any to begin with, that is), much of the attention in the league turns to who is and is not in playoff contention. 

    These “bubble teams” may be within, say, four, six, eight points of a postseason spot with 30-something games to go. That often leads to both fans and team officials feeling as though they are very much in the race for that final position, and want to push all-in to pursue that end. If that includes trading picks and prospects so they can win the final seed in their divisional playoff group, or a wild card, then so be it. That's the price of doing business when the goal is to make the playoffs.

    And leaving aside the absurdity of the egalitarian dream that “once you make the playoffs, anything can happen” — while big underdogs do occasionally PDO their way to a Cup final or even a title, the end

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