Ryan Lambert

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: BU's penalty problem

    BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 08: Boston University Terriers Tommy Kelly #22, Gabriel Chabot #10, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson #23, Bobo Carpenter #14 and Patrick Harper #21 prepare before taking the ice against the University of Massachusetts Minuteman at Fenway Park on January 8, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
    BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 08: Boston University Terriers Tommy Kelly #22, Gabriel Chabot #10, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson #23, Bobo Carpenter #14 and Patrick Harper #21 prepare before taking the ice against the University of Massachusetts Minuteman at Fenway Park on January 8, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

    At the start of the year, everyone took too many penalties. As part of the new rules emphasis, everything was getting called and teams were getting five, six, seven power plays a game in a lot of cases.

    For any coach, that would be too many. It reduces the number of minutes you’re playing at 5-on-5 and opens the game up to a whole lot more chance. And while that trend has largely gone away as refs relax the rules once again (especially because we’re starting to get into league play and games start mattering more) that hasn’t necessarily been the case for a team that’s one of the best in the country.

    By any measure you care to conjure up,

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  • What We Learned: The Leafs are actually good

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    (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 Toronto Maple Leafs spent a good chunk of December in the midst of a rough stretch.

    They suffered through a run in which they were 2-3-4, giving them just 31 points from their first 31 games. Since Dec. 22, though, they are 6-1-1 — the regulation loss came Saturday night against Montreal — and have outscored opponents 32-22.

    As evidenced by the Blue Jackets, almost anyone can have a good run of several games or more. You need to get a lot of bounces to go your way, and if you’re a decent team you’re more likely to have that happen. It’s difficult to imagine too many people had the Leafs as any sort of tangible threat to make the playoffs this season; most probably had them improving but finishing just outside the money. After all, they’re not so deep

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  • CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 30: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 30, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
    CALGARY, AB – NOVEMBER 30: Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on November 30, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    You have to give the Calgary Flames some credit.

    About halfway through their season, they’re holding onto a wild card spot and are only one point out of a divisional playoff slot. And you can’t say it’s because they’ve been lucky. At least, not in the traditional sense.

    They are lucky insofar as they get to play in the worst division in hockey at a time when their conference as a whole is having a bit of a down year. How bad is the West overall? Vancouver is one point out of a playoff spot (albeit with two extra games played). How bad is the Pacific? Vancouver is four points out of a top-three slot.

    Calgary isn’t a particularly good team, though. They have a sub-50 adjusted 5-on-5 number in CF% (49.9), scoring chances (47.3), and expected goals

    Read More »from Flames' playoff hopes ride on five low-key excellent players (Trending Topics)
  • Puck Lists: 6 intriguing 'advanced' stats so far this year

    CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 17: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 17, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
    CALGARY, AB – FEBRUARY 17: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 17, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

    We’re getting pretty close to the halfway mark of the season and it has been a very, very weird year in the NHL.

    Unexpected results keep happening. Teams that were supposed to be good are, instead, quite bad. You’ve seen it all year.

    And with those goofy results comes a slew of eye-catching stats, some good, some bad. And while there are plenty of opportunities to examine long winning streaks and unexpected scoring droughts, there are some numbers that slip under the radar a little bit. Here are six of them:

    6. Colorado’s GF% is legendarily bad

    The Avs are awful. It’s been covered at length. Their 5-on-5 offense (1.75 goals per hour) is currently eighth-worst in the Behind The Net era, and only likely to get worse as they sell off what few useful, movable

    Read More »from Puck Lists: 6 intriguing 'advanced' stats so far this year
  • Asking for taxpayer money, P.K. Subban and PDO (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    ST LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 02: Fans celebrate the St. Louis Blues 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on January 2, 2017 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
    ST LOUIS, MO – JANUARY 02: Fans celebrate the St. Louis Blues 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Busch Stadium on January 2, 2017 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

    (In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    8. Cash grabs

    Oh didn’t we all love the Winter Classic in St. Louis this year? Wasn’t it so good? Didn’t the Blues win?

    Well the Blues and city officials are so, so glad you liked it that they now want to turn that goodwill into the ability to renovate the rink. And all it will cost St. Louis and Missouri taxpayers is $138 million, though the team will pay about $90 million of that. So That’s it! What a bargain!

    The good news is the state’s new governor-elect is opposed to spending any taxpayer money on stadiums, but the Blues will meet with him soon and try to convince him it’s actually good to give millionaires more money from

    Read More »from Asking for taxpayer money, P.K. Subban and PDO (Puck Daddy Countdown)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Making Hobey Baker case for an Army goalie

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    Getty Images

    Last week in this space we talked about the Hobey Baker race and how very few goaltenders ever appear to warrant consideration for the award.

    The only goaltender to win it in recent memory is Ryan Miller, who played almost every second for Michigan State in 2000-01 and had a .950 save percentage when the national average was in the low .900s. Just a bananas season that is basically impossible to replicate under modern goaltending conditions.

    And to that end, it seems that if the task for a goalie who wants to win the Hobey is “make as much of a difference as Ryan Miller,” then Ryan Miller will go down as the last goalie to ever win the Hobey. By comparison a goalie today would probably have to be about .965 or better while playing basically every game for an entire season, which seems physically impossible.

    In fact, the introduction of the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the nation’s best goalie, seems to be something of a Cy Young For Hockey. While a goaltender is

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  • What We Learned: How the surprising Bruins have rebounded

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    AP

    Most people didn’t have the Boston Bruins making the playoffs this season, and back in October that was a reasonable position to take.

    The reasons why the Bruins were a fading star in the NHL over the past few years were only going to exacerbate themselves: almost everyone the blue line was either too old or too young to be truly difference-making and the forward depth was thinning out year-by-year, and once again too much money was being allocated to guys who weren’t going to make much of a difference. Tuukka Rask having an off year in 2015-16 was a big reason they missed the playoffs for a third year running, and some were not entirely convinced that was something he’d be able to turn it around.

    All told that seems like a pretty decent recipe for Boston taking another step toward what could be a badly needed rebuild.

    Instead the team is in a playoff position entering the new year, with the ground underneath them at least somewhat shaky (they, Ottawa, and Tampa are within two points

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  • Colorado's biggest problem is forward development (Trending Topics)

    DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 29: Calvin Pickard #31 of the Colorado Avalanche sits next to the net after giving up a goal to Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars in the first period at American Airlines Center on December 29, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    DALLAS, TX – DECEMBER 29: Calvin Pickard #31 of the Colorado Avalanche sits next to the net after giving up a goal to Tyler Seguin #91 of the Dallas Stars in the first period at American Airlines Center on December 29, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

    “What’s the matter with the Avalanche?”

    Over the past few years the hockey world has had occasion to ask that question a lot, especially in the wake of that one improbable playoff appearance that of course proved itself unsustainable.

    How bad are the Avs today? As Travis Yost pointed out, they’re on pace for one of the worst seasons in recent memory, to the point that they appear to be tanking. Not that anyone would admit whether Colorado was taking a dive for a season or two, but when all outward appearance suggests it, it’s immaterial whether you’re trying. The end result is the same: You can’t score and you can’t win. And this follows seasons in which they finished with 90 and then 82 points, which are

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  • Bloodlust trumps logic for hockey fight-loving creeps (Trending Topics)

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    On Tuesday night in Columbus, there was a routine icing play against the Blue Jackets.

    Josh Anderson, a 22-year-old rookie, was pursuing the puck but got beat to the dots by Adam McQuaid. Anderson was fired up about a hit McQuaid had thrown earlier in the shift, or other so he went after McQuaid and got his hands up high.

    The linesman stepped in and prevented the fight, ostensibly because Anderson tried to engage in it after the whistle had already gone. Though both players dropped their gloves, they were only giving roughing minors instead of fighting majors because the linesman put in yeoman’s work to keep them beyond arms’ length.

    “I guess you’re not allowed fighting after the whistle is blown,” Anderson told the Columbus Dispatch. “(The linesman) told me it was a clean hit. He was like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘I’m going after him after that hit.’ He just said, ‘What hit? It was a clean hit.’ It was kind of weird.”

    That this happened the same day as Dave Lozo wrote a

    Read More »from Bloodlust trumps logic for hockey fight-loving creeps (Trending Topics)
  • Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (15) makes his season home debut against the New York Rangers, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
    Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (15) makes his season home debut against the New York Rangers, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

    (In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    8. The Sabres

    Man, this team is awful. And it really shouldn’t be.

    They’re barely scoring two goals a game. And that really sucks because their goals-against number is actually 12th in the league coming out of the break.

    There are some things right with this team that are getting glossed over right now. There are some things wrong that were always going to be problems. And there are some things the team can’t necessarily control, like its third-from-the-bottom shooting percentage of 7.2 percent.

    There’s a lot of talent on this roster. Maybe not on the blue line, but certainly up front. Losing Jack Eichel for 20ish games didn’t help anyone, but when your leading scorer is Rasmus Ristolainen things are just

    Read More »from The Sabres, coach's challenge and Nicklas Backstrom (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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