Ryan Lambert

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  • Alex Ovechkin, USA/Canada rivalry and Byfuglien: Puck Daddy Countdown

    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 07: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    (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.)

    5 – Byfuglien on the wing

    Okay, look.

    When you go through the 12 steps of dealing with John Tortorella as your national team’s coach, there’s a lot of things that come with “accepting what you can’t change.” He’s gonna select guys who shouldn’t be on the team. He’s gonna make those guys lay out for shots in a preseason tournament. He’s gonna call out other guys who are on the team for not working hard even when they play well but are simply overmatched. He’s gonna say a bunch of dumb stuff. He’s gonna make your team lose a lot.

    You accept all that. Sure. It’s a problem, but what can you do?

    But good lord, of all the dumb moves I thought John Tortorella would make as coach of the U.S. World Cup team, I never in a million years even considered that he would move Dustin Byfuglien, an All-Star defenseman, back to the

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  • Puck Lists: Ranking World Cup of Hockey's No. 1 centers

    OTTAWA, ON - SEPTEMBER 12: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada answers questions during media availability after practice in preparation for the World Cup of Hockey at Canadian Tire Centre on September 12, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)
    OTTAWA, ON – SEPTEMBER 12: Sidney Crosby #87 of Team Canada answers questions during media availability after practice in preparation for the World Cup of Hockey at Canadian Tire Centre on September 12, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)

    (PUCK LISTS is where Ryan Lambert arbitrarily lists hockey things. It runs on Tuesdays.)

    The thing with best-on-best tournaments is that you get an awful lot of talent stacked up in one place.

    The Team Canada roster for the World Cup of Hockey, for instance, has about 10 of the 20 best centers on the planet on it. Doesn’t really seem fair, but that’s how it goes. And of course, the distribution of hockey talent in a tournament like this is never uniform. The worst forward in Canada’s group would probably be the Czech Republic’s best by a decent margin.

    With this in mind, because there is nothing anyone likes better than putting players from certain positions in numerical lists, why don’t we

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  • What We Learned: Team North America is future of NHL

    MONTREAL, QC - SEPTEMBER 11: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of Team North America celebrates his goal with teammate Ryan Murray #27 during the pre-tournament World Cup of Hockey game against Team Europe at the Bell Centre on September 11, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Team North America defeated Team Europe 7-4. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)
    MONTREAL, QC – SEPTEMBER 11: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of Team North America celebrates his goal with teammate Ryan Murray #27 during the pre-tournament World Cup of Hockey game against Team Europe at the Bell Centre on September 11, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Team North America defeated Team Europe 7-4. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/World Cup of Hockey via 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.) 

    Hockey is increasingly becoming a young man’s game.

    In a lot of ways, this is an issue of economics. Young players tend to be cheaper than older ones, and with more middle-aged players (that is, those in their early- to mid-20s) getting bigger contracts all the time, teams have to make cap-related adjustments.

    These adjustments are made at the margins. It’s almost entirely older players

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  • Is Canada really that much better than World Cup foes? (Trending Topics)

     

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    The World Cup of Hockey is eight days away, and we’re starting to get a look at how these games will go during the exhibition schedule.

    Russia has a deadly power play, Finland and Sweden are really good at both ends of the ice. The kids are talented, but the Czechs are not. No real surprises there, to be honest. And part of the reason for that is you can look at the rosters every team put together and make a pretty clear determination about where everyone’s going to land.

    Because the quality Canada brings to the table at this point is just so overwhelming, a lot of the consideration here goes toward who’s going to finish second-best. Based on the quality of defense and goaltending, most would probably put Sweden second.

    After that it’s a bit of a crapshoot. You can make arguments that Russia, the United States, Finland or even the North American 23-U team is third-best, and people would have to at least consider them.

    With all this in mind, I started thinking about how much these

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  • Ranking World Cup goalies on potential dominance (Puck List)

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    The World Cup is basically the shortest short tournament you can imagine. The busiest team will play a maximum of just seven games: Three in the opening round, a one-off semifinal, and then as many as three games in the finals.

    And when you start dealing in short sets, weird things can happen. Florida, a mediocre team, had a nine-game winning streak last season. Montreal, which missed the playoffs, opened the season 9-0. Anaheim, one of the best teams in the league in the regular season, had a start in which they went 1-7-2 and later in the year had winning streaks of six and then 11 games separated by a week.

    You can go on like this. Point being, hockey’s a weird enough sport already without giving out a trophy for theoretically going like 4-2-1 over a seven-game stretch.

    And the biggest cause of teams going on inexplicable hot or cold streaks? It’s goalies going on inexplicable hot or cold streaks.

    With this in mind, maybe it’s wise to give a little attention to all the goalies in

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  • P.K. Subban, Green Day and World Cup of Hockey (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    Getty Images
    Getty Images

    (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.)

    5 – Revisiting the Subban trade

    As we’re all aware by now, Elliotte Friedman published an eye-opening piece yesterday, highlighting the day Taylor Hall, Adam Larsson, PK Subban and Shea Weber were traded, and Steven Stamkos decided to stay in Tampa.

    Most of what anyone wanted to say about all those decisions has been said and forgotten — was it really two-plus months ago already? — but the insight Friedman got from the GMs involved, teammates, and others was excellent. And more to the point, it confirmed a lot of what we probably already could have guessed about these moves.

    First and foremost, it seems that the two trades were personality-driven first, and need-driven second. For instance, we got a lot of talk about how Taylor Hall had a “big personality” and how that wasn’t necessarily seen as good or

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  • John Tortorella makes us fear for the Blue Jackets (Trending Topics)

    Tortorella

    World Cup of Hockey training camps opened yesterday, with Team USA headquartered in the home arena of its coach, John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    In opening the camp, he talked about the two players under his charge for the regular season, who will also be on the USA roster: Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson. Tortorella basically said two things at different levels of scariness. The first is that he plans on using Dubinsky as a center, and probably in a matchup against either Sidney Crosby or Ryan Getzlaf. The second is that he plans to use Jack Johnson in any role other than press-box seat-filler.

    Then, from the team’s first practice, came the USA lines. Max Pacioretty and Patrick Kane flanking Joe Pavelski. Fair enough. Solid first line there. Derek Stepan between Zach Parise and Blake Wheeler is also pretty good as a second line. The third line is where things get dicey: Justin Abdelkader, Ryan Kesler, and TJ Oshie. Not great. Not great at all. And then on the fourth

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  • What We Learned: If World Cup players don’t care, should you?

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    In the past week or so, Sean Monahan, Jeff Carter, Tomas Hertl, Radko Gudas and David Krejci have all begged out of appearing in the World Cup. Oh and Henrik Zetterberg. And Niklas Kronwall. And Duncan Keith and Jamie Benn. We might soon find out that Frederik Andersen, possibly injured in Olympic qualifying, is begging out too. And Henrik Lundqvist.

    It’s enough to make you wonder what could have possibly happened in the past week that caused eight strong, previously healthy professional athletes to get injured more or less en masse in a four-day period. It’s enough to make you wonder if anyone suffers a paper cut or sees a pretty bad in the next day or two.

    And hell, it’s almost like holding this tournament in September is a hell of a bad idea for this reason and a few others. Not that the NHL or its Players’ Association was ever going to turn down the idea of some extra money in exchange for some elite players getting in a handful of what amount to exhibition games. The risk that a

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  • Gaudreau, Trouba and the World Cup-bound unsigned RFAs (Trending Topics)

    Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images
    Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

    At this point, there are only a little more than a dozen unsigned restricted free agents in the NHL. A few of them are marginal NHL players who teams should try to re-sign, but it’s not like they’re going to make or break their clubs.

    However, there are more than a few of them who are legitimately big names that you’d have really thought would be signed right now. And more worrisome for their teams is — or at least should be — the fact that a lot of them are playing in the World Cup of Hockey.

    Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau and Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba are probably the most obvious of these, because they’re good enough to both be playing in the World Cup of Hockey for the 23-U team. But Buffalo’s Rasmus Ristolainen is suiting up for Finland. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm were both recently added to Sweden’s World Cup roster as injury replacements (for Alex Steen and Nik Kronwall, respectively). Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov and Washington’s Dmitry

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  • Vegas team names, jersey ads and Carolina's moves (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    NHL
    NHL

    (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.)

    5. Not giving up

    Persistence is usually an admirable quality, and if you believe all those Success Memes with a black and white picture of Leonardo DiCaprio in a tux with some bottom-text, “failing is actually winning” or whatever.

    However, and this feels like the one-billionth time I’ve said something about it, the persistence with the Las Vegas team name is getting to the point where it’s a little sad, to be honest. The team has now registered the name “Sand Knights,” having previously locked down “Desert Knights,” “Golden Knights,” and “Silver Knights,” and after having struck out on “Black Knights” and just regular old “Knights.” (No one tell Bill Foley what Clarkson’s hockey team is called.)

    Like, yeah man, you really want to be the Knights in some capacity, but it’s not going to happen in a satisfactory

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