Ryan Lambert

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  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Scoring isn’t down, Corsi isn’t dead

    [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. “Scoring is down boo hoo hoo”

    The NHL's league leader in points this season had 87 points and this is apparently the worst thing that ever happened to anyone in league history.

    Look, the average number of goals scored in NHL games this season was 5.46, which is obviously only about 2.73 per team per game. And that's not a lot. But what it is, is it's in line with the levels seen in each of the last four seasons (2.74 per team per game, 2.72, 2.73). So why all the grumbling this year? Well, obviously the fact that Benn won the scoring title without

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Scoring isn’t down, Corsi isn’t dead
  • What We Learned: How to fix the Boston Bruins, LA Kings

    (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.

    Over the last five seasons, the team that has had the puck more than any other — 54.8 percent of the time, in fact — is the Los Angeles Kings. In fourth place — at 52.7 percent — is the Boston Bruins.

    Neither made the playoffs this year.

    One thing this certainly does not present is any sort of reason to think that possession stats are in any way not predictive, not worth tracking, etc. Yes, we acknowledge that results in the NHL predicated heavily upon luck (some 40 percent of point totals over the season come via things you can't control) but by my count that still leaves 60 percent of results which are based upon repeatable skills like possession.

    Sam Ventura, who helped start War on Ice, actually had a great quote the other day about how important it

    Read More »from What We Learned: How to fix the Boston Bruins, LA Kings
  • NCAA Frozen Four Notebook: O'Connor's gaffe; Leaman the builder

    BOSTON -- Poor Matt O'Connor had to sit there and explain to everyone about how he'd just run over his own dog.

    “I definitely just thought I tried to roll it out of my glove, so I dropped down on my knees, and I guess it got my pad and trickled through,” he said. “So, [poop] happens.”

    This was an all-time legendary gaffe at the worst possible time for the BU netminder, who also happens to be the nation's most sought-after college free agent. And there's a good reason for that: He's a size-y, quality college goaltender. 

    People will be talking about Matt O'Connor putting it into his own net for years. It was certainly a surprise that it happened at that stage in the game — with BU up 3-2 midway through the third period — but the thing is, though, that this is a goalie who had always had difficulties handling the puck, and had a bit of a penchant for gaffes in the last month or so. In the NCAA tournament alone this year, he gave up a long shot off his glove and in against Minnesota

    Read More »from NCAA Frozen Four Notebook: O'Connor's gaffe; Leaman the builder
  • BOSTON -- Providence College and Boston University have met twice this season, but to use those two contests — which the teams split — as any sort of roadmap for predicting the outcome of Saturday night’s national championship (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/TSN2) is probably folly.

    The fact of the matter is that those two games were played on Halloween and All Saints' Day, after which point BU was 4-1-0, and Providence 2-3-1. Needless to say, the two teams have come an awful long way since then.

    Providence, right around that time, was just starting to come out of a dismal start to the season that's evidenced by the record but also backed up by goals-for, goals-against, and possession numbers basically across the board. The Friars were actually picked to be the No. 1 team in Hockey East this season, and finished one spot back of that because no one seemed to anticipate just how much of a positive impact Jack Eichel would have for the Terriers. BU finished with just 10 wins last season. The W

    Read More »from NCAA Frozen Four: Not much separating BU, Providence ahead of national title game
  • Let's just lead with the argument that no, Steve Mason probably isn't a very good goaltender. But the evidence to argue that point is mounting. 

    He started the week off right by beating the Penguins — and standing on his head to do it — as another lost-cause season in Philadelphia is winding down, and hey, at least they swept their bitter rivals. In that game, Mason was magnificent in stopping 46 of 47 and building his season save percentage to a staggering .929.

    As one of Mason's harshest critics over the years, Flyers fans, who have so very little to cheer about these days, were glad to have a chance to gloat that they (by virtue of having been born in the greater Philadelphia area) were right about Mason ever since he was acquired from Columbus for a third-round pick. 

    Certainly, it is hard to say with a straight face that Mason has been anything but spectacular for the Flyers since he came aboard. Through the end of that Penguins game, he'd played 117 times for the Flyers, stopping

    Read More »from Mediocre goalies and world-beating play; or 'Steve Mason for Vezina' (Trending Topics)
  • NCAA Frozen Four: BU weathers storms to drive all-Hockey East final

    BOSTON — North Dakota was not about to go quietly. 

    For its various faults and injury troubles, it remained an imposing club, and something as simple as being down two goals through 20 minutes isn’t going to do a lot to dissuade them that the game is still very much within reach.

    Nor would it accede even after being down 4-1 late in the third period.

    But Boston University persevered through some terribly difficult times, and instead ensured that momentum, the atmosphere, and so on remained on its side, even if somewhat insecurely. The Terriers were flattered by the 5-3 scoreline, but they’ll certainly take it.

    First, North Dakota turned the game on its head after a mundane start, firing a barrage of shots, drawing a few penalties, and generally doing enough to make BU question just how safe its early 2-0 lead was. But hockey has a funny way of working out sometimes, and for all the territorial control exerted in the majority of that middle period, even an impressively placed,

    Read More »from NCAA Frozen Four: BU weathers storms to drive all-Hockey East final
  • [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.] 

    8. ERIK KARLSSON DOESN'T PLAY DEFENSE!!!!

    The 20 coaches polled by Bob McKenzie this week to see who they thought should win the various awards really kicked a hornets' nest by saying Erik Karlsson was the clear Norris winner.

    That's because people around the league are still like in 2012 and think he doesn't play defense or he's bad at defense or he doesn't care about defense. “Whatever, he's only good at offense, guys!”

    Except that this isn't true and hasn't been for some time now. It turns out players get better as they age. And, wow, his minutes are

    Read More »from Karlsson for Norris; video review; East, West playoff races (Puck Daddy Power Rankings)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Goaltending the key to Frozen Four

    The thing that stands out when you look at the stats for the four teams that are still left standing at this point in the season is save percentage.

    There's a lot to differentiate these teams from one another in a number of ways, but when it comes to play in the blue paint, very little separates them. Team save percentages for the season to date come in at .928, .927, .925, and .925. Those numbers rank fourth, fifth, and tied for seventh in the nation. When you look at it in terms of even-strength save percentage, the numbers are even closer: .938, .938, .938, .937. Only two teams bested those marks for the whole season.

    So important is the quality of goaltending to outcomes in the NCAA tournament that if you were picking games based solely on one factor, and you chose even-strength save percentage alone, you would have been right 10 out of 12 times so far. The only outliers were BU (.938) beating Yale (.941), and Nebraska-Omaha (.937) beating Michigan Tech (.938).

    In both cases, there

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  • What We Learned: Why the Penguins are in trouble

    (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 Penguins didn't win yesterday, but don't blame Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

    In fact, never blame them for anything ever again. It's obviously a bit facile to say, “Oh, Evgeni Malkin coming back? That's going to be huge for the Penguins.” But the extent to which it is huge is actually kind of surprising in just how huge it is.

    The Penguins' depth problems have long been obvious to everyone paying even the remotest of attention to their situation the last two seasons (and that's even after Jim Rutherford having taken serious steps to address that issue this summer). On some level it's always going to be an issue because you have to play two of the three or four best centers in the world commensurate to their skills, and those two deals alone eat up

    Read More »from What We Learned: Why the Penguins are in trouble
  • Alex Ovechkin’s legendary future (Trending Topics)

    On Tuesday night, Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season, marking the sixth time in his career in which he's reached that lofty mark. He followed with goals No. 51 and 52 on Thursday night

    For the most part, it seems like people largely don't appreciate how important a player he is. He is one of the league's all-time greats; only Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne before him broke the half-century mark six times. (Gretzky and Bossy did it nine apiece, which is crazy.)

    But by the start of next season, Ovechkin will have turned 30, and given the sort of heavy game he tends to play, and his cap hit (more than $9.5 million for six more seasons after this one), there has to be some legitimate concern as to when — not whether — the wheels come off. It wasn't so long ago that some particularly braindead publications were musing that the Capitals should let him walk to the KHL for nothing, and the “Trade Ovechkin” thing has been swirling for

    Read More »from Alex Ovechkin’s legendary future (Trending Topics)

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