Ryan Lambert

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  • NCAA Hockey 101: Hobey Baker candidates at the halfway point

    Union's Mike Vecchione looks on during the third period of an NCAA men's college hockey Frozen Four tournament game against Minnesota, Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Philadelphia. Union College won 7-4. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
    AP Photo/Chris Szagola

    With holiday tournaments starting this week, the second half of the college hockey season is nearly upon us. Time flies.

    With this in mind, we can at least start to look at who seems probable to be in the Hobey Baker conversation at the end of the year. The guys who are there now tend to be the ones there at the end of the season, with the exception of maybe one or two guys dropping off their production paces and being replaced by those who pick it up in the second half.

    And as usual, you can break the Hobey group down into three categories: Forwards who score a lot or have a lot of points, defensemen with high point totals, and goaltenders who are head and shoulders above everyone else and play the vast majority of their teams’ minutes.

    And also as usual, there’s a clear and very small group of guys who would be in legitimate competition for the award right now. This examination is really just an effort look at legitimate candidates, so while yeah there’s

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  • What We Learned: Are NHL playoffs really almost set?

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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.)

    There’s been a lot of talk lately about how all the long winning streaks in the NHL this season have made a lot of the season a fait accompli: there’s already a sizable gap between the playoff teams in most divisions and their closest competitors.

    Entering the Christmas break is a pretty good point at which to evaluate the situation, because everyone’s off and a lot of teams are within two or three games of each other in terms of what they’ve played so far. And in the East, for example, there’s a seven-point gap between the last widl card team (Philadelphia) and the first non-playoff team (Carolina). There’s an even bigger gap between the last team in the Atlantic (Boston) and its next-closest divisional rival (Tampa).

    In the West things are slightly

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  • USA Hockey doesn’t learn from its mistakes (Trending Topics)

     

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    Hey remember a few years ago when they had the Olympics in Sochi, and USA Hockey produced a pretty underwhelming team?

    You know what I mean: When the brain trust left some of the best players at their positions in the whole world home because of things like a perceived lack of hustle or because they had bad dreams and really only wanted to beat Canada? That team ended up not even winning a medal, and in fact humiliated itself in the bronze medal game with a performance so shameful the people who make these decisions were lucky to keep their jobs.

    Or maybe you remember how just a few months ago, when they had the World Cup in Canada, and USA Hockey produced a pretty underwhelming team?

    They did this thing where they left some of the best players at their positions in the whole world home because of things like perceived lack of hustle or because they didn’t think being an elite NHL player would translate to a short tournament and, more specifically, beating Canada. That team was, in

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  • NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers keeps his eyes on the puck during the second period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 6, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers keeps his eyes on the puck during the second period against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 6, 2016, in Brooklyn, N.Y (Getty Images)

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

    6. Doubting Henrik Lundqvist, Part 2

    Boy, isn’t it so so crazy that even after they kept playing Antti Raanta because Lundqvist had two bad games in three appearances, it turns out the guy is still really one of the absolute best goalies ever to play the game?

    Wow, fresh off what was effectively a string of healthy scratches, the three goals he gave up on 90 shots is really good. Not that he’s a .967 goalie but this is generally what he’s going to give you over a handful of games, reliably.

    Even after getting cleaned out by Cody Eakin — one of the dirtier plays I can remember to be honest, because Eakin straight-up ran the goalie there — he went from a shutout to a 31-of-32

    Read More »from Henrik Lundqvist, Maple Leafs and NHL All-Star voting (Puck Daddy Countdown)
  • NCAA Hockey 101: Who will win the ECAC?

    Union College
    Union College

    Earlier this season we talked about Union’s turnaround after a couple of down years and how they’d made some changes that allowed them to roar out of the gate in non-conference play.

    A month and a half later, the Dutchmen have continued that trend in the ECAC as well, climbing to an 8-1-1 league record. But even with just one loss from 10 games, their lead isn’t what you could call comfortable. Just one point back is St. Lawrence, and four behind them (with one extra game played) is perennial conference powerhouse Quinnipiac.

    It’s starting to look like that’s the top three in the conference, though Harvard and Cornell, with their late Ivy-League starts, could make up some of that ground if they win a good amount of their games in hand. But let’s just go with the premise that QU, SLU, and Union have all gotten out to this fast start and will stay a bit ahead of the pack once break comes to an end. It’s not hard to see Harvard hanging in the top-three at the end of the year,

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  • Puck Lists: 11 goalies whose teams wasted their legendary performances

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    This week’s Puck List is actually a request.

    Sparked by the likelihood that Ryan Miller, a goalie who ranks in the top-30 all-time for save percentage but is likely to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in his 12-year career, Andrew Ruestow wanted to know about some historically great goalies on historically bad teams.

    Obviously Miller is going to be up there, but Dominik Hasek is the best goaltender of all time and didn’t get out of the first round of the postseason until he was 33 years old. Now that’s futility.

    Anyway, I took the example nice kind cool Andrew provided — and by all means if you have requests, send ’em in via Twitter or the email address down below — and spun off it a bit (mainly because team winning percentages are hard to separate from goalie winning percentages).

    Instead, here is a list of some of the best goaltending performances of all time that somehow did not result in a playoff berth.

    The criteria here was simple: Goalies with save percentages of more than

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  • Why NHL’s forced parity ultimately hurts its goals (What We Learned)

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    So much parity in the NHL today. That’s what they keep saying.

    And the league says that’s a selling point: Any team can win any game and it’s really not that big of a surprise. If Colorado played Pittsburgh tomorrow there’s probably only about a 58 percent chance the Penguins win. If the best team in the NBA played the worst at the same time, the game would most likely be a 25-point blowout by halftime. We’re told by Gary Bettman that this is somehow good and not at all wrong or bad.

    But what the Penguins and their buddies in the Metro division are doing right now, by dominating the sport in a way we haven’t really seen in some time, is awesome in its own right. Currently, five of the league’s seven best teams from a points-winning perspective are from one division, and all but ensure that Metro will put five teams in the playoffs in a way the Central used to (and, I guess, still might).

    But there’s difference between what the Central Divisions of the past did and today’s Metro is

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  • Why Connor McDavid already has NHL MVP locked up (Trending Topics)

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    The Edmonton Oilers are tied for second in their division right now, which is probably a little higher than a lot of people might have expected more than a third of the way through the season.

    There’s no doubt they’ve benefited from playing a fairly easy schedule to this point — they currently rank 27th in the NHL — but there have been plenty of ups and downs even through 32 games.

    They won seven of their first eight games. Then they lost eight of their next 10. Then they won three in a row, then lost three in a row. After that, more losses broken up only by some intermittent winning and the ability to get to overtime somewhat regularly. So while they’re second in the division, against weak competition, it’s not exactly an inspiring position for them overall.

    But what’s interesting about this is that the Oilers have been two very different teams so far this year. There’s Edmonton with Connor McDavid on the ice, a nearly unstoppable force to rival any level of production seen in the NHL

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  • Puck Lists: 8 NHL teen rookies that scored like Laine, Matthews

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    Patrik Laine has 17 goals in his first 32 NHL games. That’s really good.

    It’s actually third in the NHL as I write this, which is a good place for anyone to be, let alone a kid who won’t even turn 19 until April.

    But the thing is, Laine isn’t even a lock for rookie of the year, because Auston Matthews, who’s several months older and went one spot earlier in June’s draft, is also having an historically good season for the Maple Leafs. And he’s arguably doing it with less help than Laine. In all, Matthews has 13 goals in his first 28 games, and that puts him a tie for ninth in the league, which is also very good for a teenager.

    How good are these numbers both guys are putting up? So good it almost never happens. Simply put, the vast, vast, vast majority of teenagers in the NHL don’t score this many goals or even come close.

    Let’s set the baseline here: Matthews is trailing a little bit in terms of goals per game, at 0.46 (what a bum!), which currently puts him on a pace for 38. The

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

    9 – Brandon Manning

    So Brandon Manning apparently told Connor McDavid, who never says a bad thing about anyone for any reason because he’s not programmed to do so, that he tried to injure him on purpose. And Connor McDavid, who is so quiet you hardly even remember he’s there, was understandably mad about it.

    And people’s reaction was, “Well we just don’t know!” Oh I think we do know. Connor McDavid, the kind young man who has never been anything but nice to anyone said it so we know. Why would he make that up now, and not, say, a year ago? Probably because Manning, a cruel boy, said it last week. Doesn’t mean Manning necessarily tried to hurt him at the time. Totally possible that it was just trash talk, and pretty effective trash talk at that, apparently.

    But do I believe that Manning said it strictly on the basis that McDavid says he did? Yeah.

    Connor McDavid, who is

    Read More »from Sidney Crosby vs. Penny Oleksiak, Connor McDavid and ‘The Simpsons’ (Puck Daddy Countdown)

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