Ryan Lambert

  • Make American Hockey great again (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    Earlier this week, even before the ugly loss to Canada which hammered any number of nails into a coffin already riddled with them, myself and others speculated that an early elimination would be the best possible outcome for USA Hockey.

    We figured that if this team cobbled together two straight weak performances and were bounced out of a tournament engineered to ensure it didn’t get bounced out, that it would serve as some sort of wakeup call. That these people who paired a questionable-at-best roster with a regrettable-at-best coach would see the results and say to themselves, “Well, we blew it and we know that the old way of doing things is no longer acceptable.”

    Then USA Hockey announced that Dean Lombardi, who was in charge of putting together this team pretty much from top to bottom, would be holding a press conference the morning of the US’s final, meaningless game against the Czechs. Specifically, he would address the team’s failings and his role in it.

    Many assumed this meant we could expect something of a hat-in-hand, foot-shuffling apology to USA Hockey fans who probably should have seen this coming.

    What we got instead was, well… It was breathtaking.

  • Huge If True: Where will Kris Russell end up?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week’s biggest rumor.]

    A little while ago, people kind of looked around and realized, “Oh hey, no one signed Kris Russell yet.”

    Well heck, you could have guessed that there was a reason for this: Russell isn’t that good. But also, according to Darren Dreger, teams were interested but needed to free up some money at some point before training camps open. Of course, that was in early August, and the final full month of summer came and went.

    Exactly a month later, Dreger again reported that Russell was in talks with as many as eight teams and would sign before camps opened.

    Well folks: Training camps open in a week, and Kris Russell ain’t signed nowhere yet.

    So hey, eight teams, right? Who are they? Why do they want Kris Russell?

    Bob McKenzie says that decision should come down in the next few days.

  • Hockey fighting, Team Europe and Nichushkin (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    8 – Letting kids beat the hell out of each other

    Good lord how does the NHL continue to allow guys to fight in rookie tournaments?

    This has been a rather unfortunate aspect of these kinds of exhibition camps for some time now, and it’s easy to see why. Kids who have little to no shot at making the big roster think they can impress decision-makers by getting into fights to show they’ll stick up for their teammates even in the most meaningless of settings.

    But then stuff like this happens:


    Florida Panthers prospect Jayce Hawryluk broke hand fighting last night, first pro season delayed. pic.twitter.com/3BciM6ks0V

    — George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) September 19, 2016

    And frankly, Hawryluk got off a little easy. A broken hand is one thing. A concussion that can potentially jeopardize your entire career is entirely another. And while very few players in their late teens and early 20s find themselves sidelined for the rest of their lives with concussions, even one can start the snowball rolling down the hill and picking up terrifying momentum.

    6 – Val Nichushkin


  • Puck Lists: Ranking the World Cup's No. 1 defensemen

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    (This is PUCK LISTS, a Tuesday series from yer boy RL, in which he arbitrarily lists hockey things.) 

    With the World Cup officially under way, we’re getting a good look at how things are going through four or five games with each of these teams. The thing that’s always interesting in best-on-best tournaments is to see how coaches evaluate the elite of the elite, and how they deploy them as a consequence.

    Just as last week saw a ranking of each World Cup team’s centers, it’s interesting to see which defensemen teams rely on the most. Based on total ice time in the exhibition portion of the tournament, as well as the first two days of round robin play, we’re starting to get a pretty good idea of who coaches will be putting out for the most minutes against top competition.

    8. Nikita Zaitsev, Russia

    Even if you watch a lot of KHL games and have a more nuanced opinion of his game, history proves that it’s very easy to misread KHL performance as it relates to NHL quality.

    7. Jakub Nakladal, Czech Republic

    6. Rasmus Ristolainen, Finland

    5. Aaron Ekblad, Team North America

  • What We Learned: Silver lining as U.S. embarrasses itself at World Cup

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 5 days ago

    This tournament might end up being good for USA Hockey.

    Wait, hold on. Come back.

    Hear me out: This is a team that got humiliated by the European mishmash team in the tournament opener, losing 3-0. And maybe if that continues — most would agree they’re going to get smoked by a Canada club that could have beaten the Czechs by 12 if it really wanted to — something finally changes.

    They didn’t win what should have been a tap-in of a tournament opener. They didn’t even come close, in point of fact. They dominated possession, sure, but they also trailed for more than 90 percent of the game. All you needed to know about the game was that every time the U.S. conceded, they also took a dumbass penalty within five minutes or so. They never gave themselves a chance to get back into the game they shouldn’t have needed to get back into in the first place.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

  • When will we stop hearing about the Subban trade? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 8 days ago

    Thursday was Media Day at the World Cup of Hockey, and one of the biggest issues that came up throughout the day was the relitigation of whether the P.K. Subban-for-Shea Weber trade was a good one for Montreal to have made.

    It is, of course, not one. But it’s also something that you would have thought was not going to be talked about for a while. It’s mid-September, still months away from the first game between the Predators and Canadiens (slated for Jan. 3 in Nashville), but Marc Bergevin, Carey Price, and Weber himself were fielding questions on one of the biggest trades in hockey history anyway.

    And they all said the kinds of stuff you’d expect them to say. Leadership. Good person. Great defenseman. Hard to play against. All the talking points you’d want to see hit if you were trying to sell the world on why this trade was really good and not — say, for example, to pick an alternative totally at random just as a fer-instance — an unmitigated disaster.


  • Huge If True: Do people actually think Detroit can make trades?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 9 days ago

    Right now most of the hockey world is focused on the World Cup, where the Red Wings’ Petr Mrazek is representing the Czech Republic and might end up being the No. 1 goalie.

    But while he’s doing that, his battery mate in Detroit is getting reps in with the Wings who aren’t in the World Cup, trying to work his way back into management’s good graces.

    There was a lot of talk that Jimmy Howard was going to get traded this summer, and for good reason. His save percentage over the last three seasons is a below-average .909. Before that, his career save percentage was an above-average .918. Sometimes that’s what happens when goalies age into their 30s, but the understandable nature of the degradation of his ability probably wasn’t a lot of comfort to the Red Wings, who are slated to pay him almost $5.3-million against the cap for the next three seasons.

    Moreover, even if Howard hadn’t played himself out of a job last year (he went .906 in 37 appearances), Mrazek’s early-season performance would have shoved just about anyone out of a relatively secure starting spot. Before he fell apart late in the campaign, Mrazek was looking like a borderline Vezina candidate.

    The Rumor

    Who’s Going Where?

  • Alex Ovechkin, USA/Canada rivalry and Byfuglien: Puck Daddy Countdown

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 days ago

    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings. Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)

    5 – Byfuglien on the wing

    Okay, look.

    When you go through the 12 steps of dealing with John Tortorella as your national team’s coach, there’s a lot of things that come with “accepting what you can’t change.” He’s gonna select guys who shouldn’t be on the team. He’s gonna make those guys lay out for shots in a preseason tournament. He’s gonna call out other guys who are on the team for not working hard even when they play well but are simply overmatched. He’s gonna say a bunch of dumb stuff. He’s gonna make your team lose a lot.

    You accept all that. Sure. It’s a problem, but what can you do?

    But good lord, of all the dumb moves I thought John Tortorella would make as coach of the U.S. World Cup team, I never in a million years even considered that he would move Dustin Byfuglien, an All-Star defenseman, back to the wing.

    It’s a position he hasn’t played with regularity in some time. A position he doesn’t like playing. A position at which he is less effective than he is on the blue line.

    4 – Concussion spotters

  • Puck Lists: Ranking World Cup of Hockey's No. 1 centers

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 11 days ago

    (PUCK LISTS is where Ryan Lambert arbitrarily lists hockey things. It runs on Tuesdays.)

    The thing with best-on-best tournaments is that you get an awful lot of talent stacked up in one place.

    The Team Canada roster for the World Cup of Hockey, for instance, has about 10 of the 20 best centers on the planet on it. Doesn’t really seem fair, but that’s how it goes. And of course, the distribution of hockey talent in a tournament like this is never uniform. The worst forward in Canada’s group would probably be the Czech Republic’s best by a decent margin.

    With this in mind, because there is nothing anyone likes better than putting players from certain positions in numerical lists, why don’t we examine the who and why of the best No. 1 centers each team brought to the tournament.

    You can probably predict how this is going to go.

    8 – Tomas Plekanec, Czech Republic

    Now look, Plekanec is a perfectly fine player. He is slightly above-average in a lot of ways. But in terms of No. 1 centers on the global stage, he’s a clear step back from the rest. The same, unfortunately, can be said for his fading (faded?) hockey power of a country.

    7 – Aleksander Barkov, Finland


  • What We Learned: Team North America is future of NHL

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 days ago

    (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.) 

    Hockey is increasingly becoming a young man’s game.

    In a lot of ways, this is an issue of economics. Young players tend to be cheaper than older ones, and with more middle-aged players (that is, those in their early- to mid-20s) getting bigger contracts all the time, teams have to make cap-related adjustments.

    These adjustments are made at the margins. It’s almost entirely older players getting pushed out of the league in favor of younger, cheaper ones. That makes sense both financially and on the ice. When the 2004-05 lockout happened, the prevailing wisdom was that players peaked in their late 20s or early 30s. Plenty of data since then suggests that a player’s prime is effectively over once he’s ready for unrestricted free agency.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

    Minus of the Weekend

    To Philly: Gaudreau + Shinkaruk