Ryan Lambert

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  • The Process vs. The Results for Oilers, Flames (Trending Topics)

    The thing you hear people who have come to understand the game more fully in the past few years talk about a lot is “The Process.”

    The Process, in hockey, is everything.

    It's hard to define exactly what The Process is or isn't, because people may see it as different things. For some people, it's defined by wins and losses: If you're winning, you're doing things right, and if you're losing, you're doing things wrong.

    For others, it relates to goals: If the goals are going in, or being kept out, for any given length of time, that too is an indicator that a team is good or turned a corner from being bad or has had something go horrible wrong. And for some, something as simple as possession numbers indicate whether things are going right or wrong for a team.

    It's unfair to wholly dismiss any one of these as being important. You can be like the Devils the last few years, and have a ton of bounces go against you all season long and lose games you should have won and not make the playoffs

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  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Edmonton Oilers dumpster fire edition

    [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. Dallas Eakins

    What happened?

    It was, what, like a week and a half prior to Dallas Eakins' dismissal that Craig MacTavish said that firing the coach wasn't really a feasible option for the club right now?

    The obvious and logical question many had at that point, then, was, “What changed?”

    Well for one thing, the Oilers kept losing, a lot. That — capital-T “That” —MacTavish presser was on Dec. 5, and while the Oilers won their next game, 2-1 against San Jose, they then dropped their next four as well, losing by a combined score of 13-5. Neither of those

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Edmonton Oilers dumpster fire edition
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Omaha keeps rolling; Game cancelled for the flu?

    (Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.)  

    A few weeks ago in this space, there was a look at the season Omaha had enjoyed to that point. Essentially, the takeaway was that the Mavericks had won a lot of games, but the underlying numbers all suggested that they shouldn't have been as successful as they were. 

    But what's been interesting is that over these last three weeks or so, they've suffered a bit of a bumpier road: they went up to Grand Forks and took just a point from North Dakota (they actually won the first game in a shootout but for all intents and purposes other than NCHC standings, which I don't care about, it was a draw), they split at Miami, then swept St. Cloud in Omaha.

    Given the quality of opponents there — all of them are top-20 in the country by any reasonable measure — you take

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey 101: Omaha keeps rolling; Game cancelled for the flu?
  • What We Learned: Is Nashville a giant tease or playoff threat?

    Nashville Predators' Olli Jokinen, right, of Finland, celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with teammates Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, and Colin Wilson (33) as Coyotes' Keith Yandle (3) skates past during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The Predators defeated the Coyotes 5-1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)Nashville Predators' Olli Jokinen, right, of Finland, celebrates his goal against the Arizona Coyotes with teammates Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, and Colin Wilson (33) as Coyotes' Keith Yandle (3) skates past during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. The Predators defeated the Coyotes 5-1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Most observers of this league can probably agree that one of the big surprises so far this season has been the overwhelming and frankly shocking success of the Nashville Predators.

    Here we are in mid-December and the Preds, with a new coach and very much retooled roster, are putting together a very convincing case that they will be making the playoffs with relative ease in another four months' time. Most predictions for Conference III specifically probably would have put them a little bit outside the top-3, logically behind Chicago and St. Louis, and maybe Dallas — woefully disappointing Dallas — and even Minnesota. Put another way, “on the outside looking in” was probably a reasonable place to put their playoff hopes.

    But at this point, even if they go .500 the rest of the way, the likelihood that they miss the playoffs isn't as big as it probably should be given the on-paper talent. This is a team using Colin Wilson as its No. 2 center, and say what you want about his season (it's

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  • A stagnant cap would change the entire league (Trending Topics)

    NHL officials love to say that the league has a lot of parity in it but that's not necessarily true.

    There's a lot of forced parity, of course, because three-point games necessarily inflate teams' totals at the end of the season, and sometimes even help bad teams make the playoffs when they absolutely should not do so in a just universe. But real parity? Look at the last several Cup winners and try to tell anyone with a straight face that this is a league where anyone can win.

    There also probably isn't a whole lot the league itself can do to engender any kind of actual parity that ensures the Haves of the past few years can, in some way, be caught up by the Have Nots. Fortunately, though, the global economy might unwittingly intervene on behalf of everyone who isn't Chicago and Los Angeles.

    Gary Bettman this week told the Board of Governors that he expects the salary cap for next season to come in at around $73 million. That's up $4 million from the current $69 million, and should give

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Will top powers come together in time?

    (Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.)  

    One thing you can set your watch to in college hockey is that Boston College and Michigan are going to be good pretty much every year.

    That really hasn't been the case so far this season; the Eagles are a game above .500 at 8-7-1, and Michigan recently needed a spate of games against some serious cupcakes (AIC, RPI, Ohio State) to get to the, ahem, lofty record of 8-6. It has, understandably, been something of a headscratcher for the college hockey punditry. How could two teams with so much talent on paper, and such quality coaching staffs, be so deeply mediocre?

    Is it just one of those things that can happen when you've only played 14 or 16 games? Or is it indicative of deeper problems? The answer, unfortunately for both the teams in question and observers

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  • What We Learned: Waiting for the Calgary Flames crash

    Dec 6, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) (second from left) celebrates his first period goal against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)Dec 6, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano (5) (second from left) celebrates his first period goal against the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Saddledome. (Candice Ward-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.)

    So the Calgary Flames are good, and no one saw that coming.

    How could they? This is a team with maybe four players that other teams would really and truly step over their grandmothers to acquire; a team that spent most of the summer pegged as being a lock to spend the year in the league's basement.

    But a check of the standings here in early December shows Calgary as being very comfortably in a Western Conference playoff spot, and sitting with losses in the single digits through 28 games. It seems impossible, and yet here we are.

    The thing is that the Flames have done this in much the same way the Colorado did in 2009-10 and Dallas did in 2010-11 and Minnesota did in 2011-12 and Toronto did in 2013 and Colorado (again) did in 2013-14. They are very

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  • Boston Bruins have problems, most of them self-created (Trending Topics)

    Heading into Thursday night's game in San Jose -- a 7-4 loss to the Sharks -- the Boston Bruins were slumping. They'd won just one of their last five games, and their offense had been anemic. Six goals in 310 minutes of hockey, while allowing 11. 

    If you allow 11 goals in 310 minutes, you should reasonably expect to come out with a lot more than three points, but alas, the Bruins cannot muster any sort of meaningful run support for poor Tuukka Rask. This, in a nutshell, has been the Bruins' problem all year.

    Last year, the Bruins finished third in the league with 3.15 goals per game. During the lockout-shortened season they finished 13th at 2.65 per. The year before, they were tied for second at 3.17. And before that they were fifth at 2.98. For years, then, the Bruins have been a dominant offensive force over any given 82-game period. Ahead of the San Jose game, though, the offense was just 23rd in the league at just 2.35 goals per game, one spot and two-hundredths of a goal ahead of

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  • [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.] 

    10,243. The Kings 

    Morally, a $100,00 fine was too good for them.

    For some idiotic reason, the Kings thought it would be a good idea to let Slava Voynov, who is suspended by the league from all team activities, and also carrying some rather grave domestic violence charges, practice with his club.

    Because he practiced.

    With his team.

    For their part the Kings thought they were safe because it was an optional, rather than mandatory, practice. One which literally everyone on the roster attended by some crazy quirk. And even if half the guys were there, it would

    Read More »from Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Kings’ Voynov fine; Norris Trophy; Marty Brodeur
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Harvard makes its case and strength of schedule debate

    (Ed. Note: Ryan Lambert is our resident NCAA Hockey nut, and we decided it’s time to unleash his particular brand of whimsy on the college game every week. So NCAA HOCKEY 101 will run every Tuesday on Puck Daddy. Educate yo self.) 

    In October, the ECAC coaches picked Harvard to finish ninth out of the 12 teams in the conference, ahead of only indisputably poor teams RPI, St. Lawrence and Princeton.

    Harvard, likewise, seemed to be an indisputably poor team as well. They were awful last year at a 10-17-4 record that more or less fit their season-long performance perfectly: They just didn't play well enough to win most nights, conceding more than 1,000 shots in 31 games but putting only a little more than 812 on net themselves.

    They returned some good players, of course, but they weren't bringing in any sort of world-beating freshmen. It was a solid group but not much more than that. However, it's fair to say, also, that last year's Crimson club were a little unlucky, shooting a point

    Read More »from NCAA Hockey 101: Harvard makes its case and strength of schedule debate

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