Ryan Lambert

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  • P.K. Subban reminds us great players make mistakes, too (Trending Topics)

    One way for an embattled coach to really kick a hornet's nest when things aren't going well is to go after his good players. 

    In theory, this might work because if the player in question messed up badly enough, all the hornets you just pissed off descend on the player, rather than you. However, because seemingly nothing can go right for Michel Therrien this season, all the problems landed on him again.

    Did P.K. Subban screw up on Wednesday night in turning over the puck and allowing the 3-on-3 that went the other way? You can absolutely make that argument. He's an elite player and he got muscled off the puck late in a tie game by a guy who is good and everything but not anywhere near his level. That led to the game-winning goal from Jarome Iginla, another loss for the Canadiens, and the imminent descent of more blame on Therrien's head.

    So he basically called Subban selfish. Specifically, he called the play selfish, and said it cost Montreal the game.

    But, y'know, this boils down to a

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  • Huge If True: Inside the Mikkel Boedker trade market


    [HUGE IF TRUE breaks down the plausibility of the week's biggest rumor.]


    The Rumor

    One guy who has been really good for a not-good team this year, but who has been little-discussed in the whole “Trade Rumors” industry is Mikkel Boedker. He's second on Arizona in scoring (13-24-37 in 56 games, which tells you a lot about the team's overall offensive capabilities) and has suffered in possession only because he's getting top-line minutes against tough competition on a team that is flat-out bad.

    But that quiet air surrounding the pending UFA was disturbed heavily and quickly on Tuesday night, when TSN's Insider Trading spent a huge amount of time discussing him. He also came up, albeit briefly, in 30 Thoughts this week, because Arizona would like to re-sign him.

    However, Pierre LeBrun doesn't think that's going to happen, meaning that the Coyotes would love to trade him instead, so they can get at least something back for him. He just turned 26 in June, so he's got a lot of miles ahead

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  • 9. Suspense

    Have a look at the NHL standings.

    Go on.

    Ahead of Tuesday night's games, there seemed to be maybe two teams (Pittsburgh and possibly Carolina) that could threaten to take away a playoff spot from a team currently occupying one. The middle of the Metro is a bit of a mess, after all.

    But out West? Everyone else is just jockeying for position. Arizona and Minnesota are pushing for playoff spots, in the strictest sense of the word, but the odds they get them are vanishing. Feels Minnesota probably only has about a 1 in 3 chance to make up the gap, and Arizona is actually dead but doesn't yet know it.

    Which means, boy oh boy, it's gonna be a fun final two months of the season out West and probably in the East as well.

    Gentlemen, start your tank battle.

    8. Moral indignation

    So Arizona Coyotes GM Don Maloney basically told Sports Illustrated's Alex Prewitt the same thing he's been saying for a year: “We were awful in 2014-15 and I thought it was my job to ensure we were as awful

    Read More »from Brad Marchand, Saving Stamkos, Hurricanes' headache (Puck Daddy Countdown)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: So how good is Denver, exactly?

    The big shocker this weekend in college hockey shouldn't really have been that much of a shocker. North Dakota went down to Denver, but got swept in somewhat stunning fashion.

    The reason this was so noteworthy is that North Dakota entered the weekend third in the Pairwise, and carrying the second-highest winning percentage in the country. With just three losses — and only one since Nov. 21 — the Fighting Hawks enter just about any weekend as the prohibitive favorite. 

    Not that Denver comes off as being a particularly bad team or anything like that. They entered the weekend 12th in the Pairwise, which is a not-entirely-comfortable position but certainly worthy of respect. What's interesting, though, is that they seemed to be buoyed heavily by strength of schedule in this regard. They play conference games against two of the top three Pairwise teams in the nation and that'll help, even if their record (13-8-5) isn't all that wow-inducing.

    But they not only beat North Dakota at Magness

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  • What We Learned: Drew Doughty vs. Erik Karlsson debate

    (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.)

    At this point if you believe Drew Doughty, or literally anyone else, deserves to win the Norris over Erik Karlsson you have to be doing it out of sheer boredom or contrarianism.

    No one can look at the seasons these two defensemen are having and realistically say, “Doughty is better.” The mental gymnastics associated with such a statement, if actually being made in all seriousness, ought to win you gold in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

    The logical fallacy in all this is that anyone who backs Doughty knows they have little room to actually make the argument, so they have to get ultra-specific. “Well, sure, Karlsson is clearly more talented, but he's a better one-on-one defender. He's more physical. He's more complete.”

    This argument pre-supposes that

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  • Kris Russell and absolutely nonsensical overpayment (Trending Topics)

    The NHL is a lot smarter today than it used to be. But there are still serious blindspots that many general managers share when it comes to evaluating talent and determining what it's worth. 

    For example, goaltending remains a little-understood position for which many players in this league are overpaid. There is often little correlation between a goaltender's normal performance level and the contracts they pull.

    This is also true of guys who are decent enough hockey players for the bulk of their career but who have a lot of success in a particularly deep postseason run, and end up breaking the bank because of it.

    Finally, there is a third group of player types that are reliably overvalued in this league: Defense-first players.

    You see it over and over again: Guys who can maybe chip in a little bit offensively but whose main job is touted as being a “shutdown” guy will get more money than any reasonable viewing of their game and numbers would suggest.

    The latest to fall into this

    Read More »from Kris Russell and absolutely nonsensical overpayment (Trending Topics)
  • Huge If True: How Byfuglien contract impacts defensemen at trade deadline

    The Rumor

    On Monday afternoon, the Winnipeg Jets announced they had re-signed Dustin Byfuglien, a very good defenseman who was long part of a will-they-won't-they with his club. The contract was heavy on dollars (who cares) and relatively light on term (very wisely) and did almost as much for the Jets in the immediate future as it did for everyone else who is on the hunt for blue line help.

    It has been quite clear at least since the end of October that there were a lot of teams that wanted blue line help, but no real swaps have been made in this regard. Chicago and Pittsburgh swapped some of their D problems, LA took Luke Schenn off Philly's hands, the Ryan Johansen/Seth Jones trade was more of an own-self necessity in Columbus's mind than addressing a specific need (though Jones clearly does that), and that's about it in terms of actual “name” defenders switching teams all season.

    For the last week or two, NHL insiders had been saying that whatever decision Kevin Cheveldayoff

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  • Minnesota Wild, angry coaches and Maple Leafs (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.) 

    8. Outdoor games

    Wow, finally an outdoor game with Chicago. Finally an outdoor game with Philadelphia. Finally an outdoor game with Pittsburgh. It's been more than a year since we saw all of these teams play outdoors and so it's really nice to see them rewarded again.

    7. The Wild

    Boy oh boy. Where to begin with these guys?

    What's most amazing here is that no one seems to have seen this coming. They're a decent team with some good players on the roster. But if they don't get Devan-Dubnyk-last-year goaltending (.936 after the trade) they don't make the playoffs then, either. This year, Dubnyk has merely been a little above average, at .918, and so suddenly giving up an extra half-goal a game becomes a major issue when it comes to winning and losing.

    “Wow we don't have any elite offensive players!” is not something

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Time to blow up Beanpot tournament format

    It has long been acknowledged that the Beanpot has a serious problem, insofar as it ends up being interesting to only a small sliver of a small sliver of college hockey fandom. 

    Flagging attendance figures, diminished discussion, less lively crowds, etc. have only become more of an issue in recent years. It wasn't so long ago that Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, in an admittedly self-serving turn, told the New England Hockey Journal that the only thing that would really fix the Beanpot is if someone besides BC or BU were to win it.

    Which, let's face it, doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon.

    And even then, if Harvard were to somehow win it — for the first time since 1993 — that would be interesting for a year or two. But to put things flatly, very few people actually care whether Harvard wins or loses the Beanpot or just about any other hockey game. Their supporters' sections at the Beanpot are always always always wastelands, with maybe a dozen students, a small pep band, and

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  • What We Learned: How Sidney Crosby got his groove back

    There's a pretty simple way to break down the resurgence of Sidney Crosby that, on the surface, is very damning for former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston.

    - Sidney Crosby's career average points per game before Johnston arrived: 1.4.

    - Sidney Crosby's average points per game under Johnston: 0.98.

    - Sidney Crosby's average points per game since Johnston left: 1.36

    One of these things is very obviously not like the other, and you can see why every Penguins fan had been complaining about the offensive output for world's best player under Johnston. Less than a point a game is pretty clearly not what we would or perhaps should expect out of Sidney Crosby.

    It also doesn't help that Crosby was only averaging about three shots per game under Johnston, as opposed to the almost 3.4 in his entire career prior, and 3.6 since. But obviously there's more to player performance over stretches of 100-plus games than the production of shots, goals, and points.

    Now, I got under the hood on a lot

    Read More »from What We Learned: How Sidney Crosby got his groove back


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