Ryan Lambert

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  • The 6 craziest NHL free-agency demands this summer (Puck Lists)

    (As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special Tuesday series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)

    It's becoming very apparent that the NHL's salary cap will either stay static or move very marginally this summer. Over the weekend it was reported that the cap might even go down, depending on what the NHLPA decides to do. 

    And with all this in mind, it's important to turn an eye to the summer, as 28 teams have already done full throttle. Two more have at least kicked around some ideas for how things will go once the free agency period opens. To that end, we also have to mentally prepare ourselves for the idea that there will be some teams out there who give out completely nonsensical contracts to players who in no way deserve them.

    Well, I guess they deserve exactly as much money as a team is willing to give them. But what I mean is that they are not going to live up to the deals

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  • What We Learned: Where Peter DeBoer is failing the Sharks

    (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.) 

    It's never going to be easy for teams to figure out a way to cover Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And when the next line up after that features Phil Kessel, well, that positions your to team to succeed in a way that few third lines can.

    The Sharks and the hockey world at large therefore knew going into this series that there were very obvious matchup problems that presented themselves further down the roster, and for which clear game plans would have to be constructed and executed to perfection.

    And it seemed like San Jose had the horses to do that, at least in theory. You could put the Burns/Martin pairing out there against whomever you liked and handle anyone pretty well, given how good Burns is. You could put Vlasic/Braun — coming off an

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  • How the Sharks are letting Stanley Cup slip away (Trending Topics)

     

    We can ascribe all the reasons we like for the Penguins being up 2-0 in the Cup Final so far, including but not limited to: 

    • Sidney Crosby cheats on faceoffs
    • The Sharks haven't played well in specific periods
    • Home ice advantage
    • The Penguins aren't committing penalties
    • San Jose wasn't ready for Pittsburgh's speed
    • San Jose was ready for Pittsburgh's speed but it doesn't matter
    • San Jose's lesser defensemen are getting exposed
    • San Jose's lesser forwards are getting exposed
    • Mike Sullivan is a genius
    • Peter DeBoer hasn't adapted
    • Peter DeBoer is trying too hard to adapt
    • San Jose just doesn't want it bad enough

    That might be it, but that at least seems like a good jumping-off point. They're pretty easy to address one at a time: 

    Sidney Crosby cheats on faceoffs the way everyone cheats on faceoffs all the time, but because he among the most skilled players in the world, it turns out he's really good at cheating. The Sharks have had, by my count, two actually bad periods in this series, and

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  • Huge If True: Can the St. Louis Blues stick together?

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

    This week Ken Hitchcock finally revealed what we all should have expected: He's back for one final rodeo with the team that almost didn't want him coaching them last season.

    That's all well and good. He's a great coach who brought a strong team as far as it could reasonably go in these playoffs. And with a few offseason tweaks, they could end up being even better as long as player development continues apace, needed acquisitions are made at the right prices and an extra bounce or two goes their way.

    It's totally plausible that the Blues could be in the Stanley Cup Final if they don't take quite so many dumb penalties against the Sharks, or if Vladimir Tarasenko doesn't get totally shut down by Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.

    But Tarasenko stirred the pot more than a little bit late last week, as he refused to talk to reporters on the team's pack-up day. That rankled some in the local media, and left others

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  • 8. Ads on jerseys dis-likers

    One of my favorite things around the Stanley Cup Final is the Gary Bettman/Bill Daly presser ahead of Game 1 in which he talks about how great the league is doing. And boy let me tell you, the league is doing very great. It's never been more competitive and all that stuff.

    Anyway, one of the things that fans seem to find most pressing about the league these days is now creeping closer to reality. With the Philadelphia 76ers putting small StubHub ads on their jerseys, that's the snowball that's gonna start an avalanche, and the NHL is right in the path. Bill Daly said the NHL hasn't changed its stance on jersey ads, but added, “I guess we'll see what happens at the World Cup.”

    The league infamously couldn't find sponsors for World Cup jersey ads initially, but given that they have another three-plus months to figure all that out, Daly, “wouldn't rule it out,” either.

    This says to me that the league is moving toward just going full steam ahead on this as soon

    Read More »from State of the NHL, from expansion to coach's challenge (Puck Daddy Countdown)
  • Puck Lists: The 10 biggest World Cup of Hockey snubs

    (As the NCAA hockey season is done, our own Ryan Lambert needed something on which to opine. Say hello to a special Tuesday series from yer boy RL, PUCK LISTS, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.)

    10. Alex Galchenyuk

    The 23-and-under North American forward group is as purely talented as just about any other team in the tournament. Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman were always going to end up leaving someone good at home. And while Max Domi, Boone Jenner, and maybe one or two other young scorers in the league may seem like snubs, it's tough to argue that a guy who scored 50 goals in the last two seasons — and 30 this year — doesn't deserve to crack the roster.

    If you're putting together a list of 23-and-under North Americans, the number who have netted at least that many goals since the start of last season is quite small: Sean Monahan (made it), Johnny Gaudreau (made it), Brandon Saad (made it), Alex Galchenyuk (didn't make it). More recently, only Saad, Galchenyuk, Gaudreau,

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  • What We Learned: Oblivious suckers of the NHL offseason

    (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 NHL is smarter now than it has ever been.

    Teams use advanced data of many different stripes to try to gain an edge on the competition, whether it's to streamline breakouts and defensive systems, identify a talent in a player other teams cannot see, better determine the actual and future value of a player, or find diamond-in-the-rough prospects that can help their teams down the road.

    A great many teams now employ these strategies, to the point that the advantage they can give is already diminishing because most everyone has already figured out a lot of this stuff. And while there's plenty of proprietary information these teams have that the public does not, market inefficiencies are to some extent beginning to dry up.

    Fortunately for about 27 teams

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  • Tarasenko didn't disappear, Vlasic just dominated (Trending Topics)

    Because hockey observers must have an inexhaustible supply of opinions on all things, one of the things that got talked about a lot in the now-finished Western Conference Final was that Vladimir Tarasenko was a no-show.

    He finished the series with two goals and no assists in six games, and both those strikes came in garbage time in the series' only elimination game. He mustered 15 shots on goal, tied for the most on the team, but that number would have only been fifth on the Sharks. That's how badly not only he, but his entire team got pushed around.

    Star players get paid to show up and all that. That's what the people were yelling about Tarasenko's non-performance, because this sport in particular seems to place undue pressure on star players to perform, and blame them when an entire team fails. This despite the fact that even the sport's busiest players — high-end defensemen — only play about half the game in best-case scenarios for their teams. Star forwards probably play closer to

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  • Projecting Canada's final World Cup of Hockey roster

    The final World Cup of Hockey roster will be announced for Canada on Friday evening, and they're going to pick seven multiple-time All-Stars and call it a day.

    Look, there's no mystery here. Canada goes in, picks a handful of the 10 best centers and maybe a few wingers and Norris-caliber defensemen and says, “Okay we're done.”

    You could ask a small child within limited understanding of the sport and have him do just as good as job as Doug Armstrong inevitably will. Picking a Hockey Canada team is not at all hard. And even if you that up, the 16 other multiple-time All-Stars you picked probably paper over your mistakes pretty convincingly. And even if they don't Mike Babcock with assistant coaches like Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, and Bill Peters will implement a tight enough system that even that probably doesn't matter.

    This is all a formality. Have the seventh defenseman you pick be a lucky contest winner from literally anyone currently living in Canada and you're

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  • Who makes the final cut for Team USA World Cup of Hockey roster?

    The final World Cup of Hockey roster will be announced for the United States Friday evening, and honestly nothing would come as a surprise at this point. 

    The good news is Dean Lombardi, who seems to be a pretty shrewd observer of the game and does a good job identifying talent, is the team's general manager. We also know 16 of the 23 players already on the team, which makes it a little easier to guess at what Lombardi might be going for with his club.

    Near as I can tell, there's no Great Panel Of American Hockey Minds to gather around and conspire against the relatively few actually super-talented players the country has produced. No one to reveal prophetic dreams presaging disaster if Phil Kessel were to make the team. That works in America's favor.

    The bad news is John Tortorella is inexplicably still the coach of the team, and that makes it a lot tougher to: a) win, b) guess what kind of roster construction they're actually going to go for here, and c) play remotely entertaining

    Read More »from Who makes the final cut for Team USA World Cup of Hockey roster?

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