Ryan Lambert

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  • What We Learned: Stop overpraising Blues, Sharks management

    A thing you saw a lot this week, in the lead-up to Sunday night's Western Conference Final matchup between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, is praise for the teams' respective general managers and fellow Dougs, Wilson and Armstrong.

    They have put together some good teams over the years, to be sure. Both rosters are talent-rich at all positions. Both have a healthy mix of older players who have been through the wars before and still contributing at a high level and younger players who are throwing in their own solid performances. Both are well-coached. Both are getting strong goaltending.

    But was either GM actually “patient” with their rosters?

    Probably not.

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    The San Jose example is the one for which there was obviously no real patience displayed. Back in 2014, when the Sharks blew a 3-0 lead to the Kings, Wilson saw his divisional rivals go on to win the Stanley Cup, and thought, “There but for a lack of Leadership and Grit go

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  • As the Tampa Bay Lightning pummeled the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders in the first two rounds of the playoffs, you had to say it was because they were better in all areas than the two teams they faced. 

    Thanks to their supreme scoring depth, strong blue line and world-class goaltending they won eight games out of 10 and were the third-best postseason possession team to make it past the first round. Their games have often been close, with only three multiple-goal wins out of 10 tries, and it's tough to say that this team “should” keep winning one-goal contests. That's especially true as a date with the juggernaut Penguins looms in the Eastern Conference Final.

    However, they have breezed through the first two rounds of the playoffs more convincingly than any other team. It is therefore very easy to forget that two of the better players in the league are still nursing injuries as the Bolts rampage past two admittedly softer opponents than anyone else has gotten.

    As of this

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  • Huge if True: New York Islanders and big offseason changes

    May 6, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) reacts against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game four of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsMay 6, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) reacts against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of game four of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    The very, very, very good news for Garth Snow as he heads into this summer is that Travis Hamonic no longer wants to be traded.

    The reason he wanted to go, it seems, is that a close family member had a bit of a health crisis, but is now perhaps out of the woods. And therefore, Hamonic is more than happy to stay with the Islanders for the duration of his bargain contract.

    That's a big load off Snow's mind, assuredly, and allows him to shift his attention to a number of other issues now facing his club.

    Arguably first and foremost on that list is the fact that Kyle Okposo — who provided 194 points to the Islanders' cause in 210 games over the last three seasons — goes from a $2.8 million AAV player to an unrestricted free agent who may or may not be re-signed. Other key players, like Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen, are also poised to hit the UFA market, and there's the sticky situation in goal to consider as well.

    Lots of questions, certainly, and it's likely going to take some

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  • Lombardi's summer, Chayka in Arizona and the Wild (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    9. Brian Elliott

    It's not so much that Brian Elliott's doo-doo performance in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars (three goals conceded on just seven shots, and the big ol' hook) was in any way an indicator that he is not a big-game goaltender. It's that this is how he will be perceived if the St. Louis Blues don't win the series.

    That's regardless of what he does in Game 7.

    The thing with Elliott is that he has never been seen as “good enough” by the Blues to warrant being the full-time starter. They infamously brought in Ryan Miller in an experiment that was doomed from the start, then they tried Martin Brodeur in an even more calamitous tryout. Then they figured he and Jake Allen could platoon for a little while.

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    And in these playoffs, he has largely been fantastic.

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  • What We Learned: Dallas Stars burned by terrible goaltending

    (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.)

    No one would argue that what the Dallas Stars are dealing with in goaltending this postseason is in any way helpful.

    Kari Lehtonen is checking in with a white-hot .901 save percentage through nine appearances, including the three goals on 21 shots he conceded in Saturday's 4-1 loss to St. Louis. Antti Niemi, meanwhile, has played in four separate games and sits at .872.

    That is flat-out not going to win you any hockey games, and it's a trend from the regular season that's only getting worse. Both played at least 43 games, and both were more or less the same goaltender: .906 for Lehtonen, and .905 for Niemi.

    When the league average goaltender is .915, it's safe to say that they cost their team — which by the way was quite good — plenty of games. Their

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  • Puck Lists: 60 most ridiculous names in 2016 WHL bantam draft

    Post CerealPost Cereal

    (As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)

    The 2016 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft was held this week, and once again has provided a startling glimpse into the naming conventions for modern day parents. Here are the 60 most ridiculous names in 2016 WHL bantam draft:

    Dead last. Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton (7th overall)

    Whoa whoa whoa. Hey, Matt, do you not understand the concept here?

    The WHL bantam draft is exclusively for children named things Lukahs, Carsynn, and Koldlan. Get outta here with your normal-sounding name. 

    Now if you name had been Mathyeiu, it would be a different story. And the last name too! Where are the Zs? The double-vowels? The symbols? It doesn't look like the email password of a particularly cautious security software engineer at all.

    What are you, a middle-manager at a mid-sized company in a mid-sized

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  • Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins MVP (Trending Topics)

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have been extremely lucky in this series against the Washington Capitals in two respects. 

    First and foremost, given the politicking (see also: whining and gamesmanship) involved, they were in many ways fortunate to only see Kris Letang suspended one game by the NHL Department of Player Safety. The penalty theoretically could have been harsher given Marcus Johansson's status at the time the decision was made; he didn't skate the day after, but made a miraculous recovery in time to participate in Game 3.

    More to the point, though, the Penguins were lucky to pick up the W in overtime of Game 4, and go up 3-1 in the series as a consequence. This is true insofar as anyone is lucky to win an overtime playoff game, but also because winning in Letang's absence has long proven difficult for Pittsburgh. This year alone, Letang missed 11 games, and the Pens rescued just three points of a possible 22. That's beyond abysmal.

    Now, anything can happen in a single game. When

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  • Huge if True: NHL coaching carousel waits on Bruce Boudreau

    FILE - In this April 8, 2015 file photo, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau coaches his team during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, in Anaheim, Calif. The Anaheim Ducks have fired coach Bruce Boudreau after their first-round exit from the playoffs. Ducks general manager Bob Murray announced the decision Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)FILE - In this April 8, 2015 file photo, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau coaches his team during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars, in Anaheim, Calif. The Anaheim Ducks have fired coach Bruce Boudreau after their first-round exit from the playoffs. Ducks general manager Bob Murray announced the decision Friday, April 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

    As of right now, four NHL teams are without their head coaches.

    The first to jettison theirs, way back while the season was still going on, was the Minnesota Wild. John Torchetti was their interim coach down the stretch and right up until this second, but the Wild are actively looking at other options as well.

    Then came the Ottawa Senators, which turfed Dave Cameron right around the time when the regular season came to an end. Last week it was the Anaheim Ducks giving Bruce Boudreau, who lost another Game 7 with Anaheim, the ol' heave-ho. And on Tuesday morning it was the Calgary Flames unceremoniously kicking Bob Hartley to the curb because he wasn't a good head coach.

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    So that's four vacancies and, as we'll see in a minute, there remains no shortage of options. In doing the research here, you would have had to clock out pretty early to find fewer than a dozen names mentioned in connection with at least one of these jobs, so obviously

    Read More »from Huge if True: NHL coaching carousel waits on Bruce Boudreau
  • Maple Leafs, Penguins bias and World Cup ads (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    7. Bob Hartley

    As the Calgary Flames stumbled out of the gate, going 3-8-1 in October. Around the end of that month it became obvious (to me) that Hartley had a very good chance of being the fastest coach in NHL history to go from “Jack Adams Winner” to “Extremely Fired.”

    The previous winner was Philadelphia's Bill Barber, who won in 2001 and was turfed the next summer, just 320 days. Hartley did the same this year, but did indeed break the record: He lasted another 313 days.

    This was always coming. Because over the four years he coached the Flames, this admittedly bad-but-ever-improving team they were never better than a 48 percent possession team. And moreover, during the entire period they were tied for 28th in the league in score-adjusted CF%, with Edmonton. The difference between what Hartley and the revolving

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  • Puck Lists: 8 guys I'd like to see win the Stanley Cup

    (As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special Tuesday series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)

    8. Any one of several of the guys on the team, Nashville Predators 

    I don't particularly care if the Predators win the Cup except to say that they are ostensibly the team I want to see do the best in general. Any one guy who wins it, sure, that's fine. Whatever. Go Preds and all that.

    But there are a list of guys on that team I definitively do not want to see win the Cup. Mega-creep Mike Ribeiro is probably Nos. 1-65 on the list. I also kinda don't want to have to hear how Shea Weber is one of the league's great defensemen (he is absolutely not) when and if he wins a Cup. And James Neal, given all the elbowing and so on, probably doesn't deserve it.

    It would be pretty cool if Ryan Johansen won it, though. Mainly because it would be funny to see a player as maligned as he has been for

    Read More »from Puck Lists: 8 guys I'd like to see win the Stanley Cup

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