Ryan Lambert

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  • Ryan Kesler vs. Jonathan Toews makes everyone happier (Trending Topics)

    There was no shortage of coverage for the return of Ryan Kesler's team playing Jonathan Toews's team in the postseason, and what that meant for their personal rivalry. In short, these are two players who do not like each other. But beyond the war of words both through the media and on the ice, the Kesler/Toews matchup presents a series of rather interesting circumstances for all involved. 

    One of the big things that was going to be most interesting for me in this series was seeing how Joel Quenneville and Bruce Boudreau matched lines against each other. These are two teams with high-quality first and second lines, and each has the ability to do significant damage to opponents.

    Anaheim can roll Maroon/Getzlaf/Perry against anyone in the league and feel pretty good about its chances, and the Beleskey/Kesler/Silfverberg second unit has been paying dividends basically all postseason. Likewise, Chicago's Saad/Toews/Hossa and Bickell/Richards/Kane groups are dangerous at all times. So who

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  • What We Learned: Why is Rick Nash so bad in the playoffs?

    (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.) 

    Each year, the New York Rangers make the playoffs. Each year, Rick Nash is criticized for not producing.

    This kind of thing is common in hockey, of course. Sidney Crosby has faced it. Alex Ovechkin has faced it. If you put up a lot of points in the regular season and then not-a-lot in the playoffs, especially if your team is unceremoniously bounced, then you get called out. No one would ever mistake Nash for a player of Crosby’s or Ovechkin’s level; he’s long been an All-Star but never has he been in the conversation for “best in the world." 

    But as far as Rangers go, he’s certainly the best they’ve got up front. He averages 0.47 goals per game over his career on Broadway, and he’s pushing 400 in the regular season since he broke into the league in

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  • Alex Ovechkin and the end of playoff choker label (Trending Topics)

    The NHL's Eastern Conference Final begin Saturday afternoon, and for the 10th season running, Alex Ovechkin will not be participating.

    For years, Ovechkin has been dogged by criticisms of his play, and particularly that in the postseason, because for as good as he is and basically always has been, he's never been able to guide the Washington Capitals past the second round of the playoffs. And he's only even gotten that far four times; that's only one more trip than the number of times the Caps have missed the playoffs entirely with him on the roster.

    But the good news is that people seem to finally be starting to realize, “Hey, maybe literally all those Capitals teams just weren't good enough, and Ovechkin couldn't be superhuman in comparison with his already-superhuman performances in the regular season.”

    Joel Ward's quote from just before Wednesday's fateful Game 7 about the horrible randomness of hockey dictating results so often going against what the math says is telling in that

    Read More »from Alex Ovechkin and the end of playoff choker label (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. Guarantees

    Alex Ovechkin is human garbage to make a guarantee!!!!!!!

    Not like Great Leader Mark Messier, who is a perfect angel. Ovechkin is bad.

    6. Blind faith

    On some level you have to stick by your guy if you let him fire the coach and steer your team rather cavalierly into the ground — you don't want to look ineffectual, after all — but the extent to which Sharks owner Hasso Plattner defended Doug Wilson this week was simply breathtaking. A small sampling follows.

    Hoping Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, in their advanced age, will improve:

    We are in

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Alex Ovechkin’s guarantee, Mike Babcock and blind faith
  • Why Calgary Flames can't buy their own hype (Trending Topics)

    So the Calgary Flames were eliminated on Sunday night and that's fair enough. The Anaheim Ducks were and are a much better team. But the important part here is the lesson they can take from that opponent.

    For the last few years, the Ducks were criticized heavily for their inability to get too deep in the playoffs. They'd rack up a bunch of points in the regular season (an average of 102 per 82-game season in the last four) then lose in the playoffs, often in embarrassing fashion, and then work to figure things out over the summer with little success. It wasn't until this year, when a stock of young talent shored up the team's depth while Bob Murray went out and got a legitimate, defensively responsible No. 2 center in Ryan Kesler to help ease the usage on the Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry duo.

    And it worked. The Ducks posted the third-best regular season in franchise history, and have now gone 8-1 in two playoff series (albeit against a banged-up Jets team and a poor Flames club). While

    Read More »from Why Calgary Flames can't buy their own hype (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: Are bigger nets really answer to NHL scoring woes?

    (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 difference is just 1.21 inches. That's about the size of a U.S. half-dollar. And yet in the NHL, it seems to be everything.

    Or so people would have you believe.

    That number is the difference in size between the average NHL goaltender in 1983-84 to present. And among many other things, that has lately been attributed to the much, much smaller number of goals being scored in the average NHL game. Over that same span — and this is a bizarre coincidence — the average number of goals scored per team per game is down... 1.21.

    Yup, add in everything from bigger pads and better training to larger players and improved theory, and goaltenders today have become dominant, near-invincible juggernauts who loom over results like malevolent clouds, ready to render

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  • Why are second-round Stanley Cup series so one-sided? (Trending Topics)

    In theory, each round of the postseason in any sport is supposed to be what separates out the weak teams from the strong. In theory, it's hard for a worse team to win four games against a better one, even if the margin between them is thin. It doesn't always happen that way, of course, but that's how it's supposed to work.

    Consequently, as you advance through the playoffs the series are supposed to be closer; teams that win — even handily — in the first round shouldn't have quite so easy of a time in the second, and so on. And yet, here we are on the verge of a pair of sweeps, with two more series looking like they ought to wrap up pretty quickly themselves. And if you look at the numbers, all the teams that “should have” won their series are cruising. 

    A large part of this is that it was a weird year in the NHL. It seemed that a lot more teams got by on PDO — the Flames, Canadiens, and Rangers all fit that description, and you could make an argument for the Wild as well once Dubnyk

    Read More »from Why are second-round Stanley Cup series so one-sided? (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.]  

    6. Brandon Prust

    Let's suppose for a second that Brandon Prust is 100 percent right. And he isn't because he can't be. 

    Let's suppose Brad Watson called him every name in the book then made up a few more on top of that. What does Prust going to the media and making a huge thing out of it really accomplish? All that stuff ex-refs have said about the boo-hooing making Prust a marked man — in that they're going to be on the lookout for every infraction for what could be the very short remainder of this series —is a best-case scenario.

    The Canadiens complain

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Brandon Prust, Stanley Cup Playoff fate, end of Lou
  • When watching all the criticism of Steven Stamkos in the first round of the playoffs, and into the second, it was difficult not to be reminded of the tongue-clucking over Tyler Seguin a few years ago. 

    Part of the reason that Seguin got run out of Boston — but certainly not the only one — was that he scored just one goal in the playoffs. This, of course, ignored a lot of factors all at the same time, such as that Seguin's most common linemate during that playoff run was Chris Kelly (no offensive help there), that he played third-line minutes (just 16:03 per game), and that he scored on one of just 70 shots he took in 22 games despite all that (and he also hit at least a half dozen posts, which don't count as shots but are enough to scare the hell out of a goaltender).

    The thing that has been said about Tyler Seguin since his trade — at least by those who think it was a foolish decision — is that opponents wouldn't often get the opportunity to concede 70 shots against Tyler Seguin, even

    Read More »from What, you thought Steven Stamkos would just stop scoring? (Trending Topics)
  • What We Learned: The myth of ‘team player’ Alex Ovechkin

    May 2, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Adam Hunger-USA TODAY SportsMay 2, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal on New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    (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. 

    Alex Ovechkin scored that goal on Saturday — that goal: that powerful, cutting, graceful, terrifying goal — to cut into the Rangers' lead, and it was astonishing. It was one of those “they'll show that on the career highlight reel when he retires” goals.

    And what was the talking point on television when everyone stopped saying, “Wow,” long enough to catch their breath? That this goal was further evidence Alex Ovechkin had, over the past summer, become a team player who changed his game completely to fit his new coach's systems. Never mind that this was a goal of which only the world' elite would be capable, or that it was basically the definition of a goal that came as a direct result of supreme individual effort; the assertion is in itself absurd.

    The

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