Ryan Lambert

  • What We Learned: Failure could be Edmonton Oilers' only path to success

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 hrs 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.)

    Gun to your head, what would you say the three biggest problems facing the Edmonton Oilers are these days, in order from most concerning to least?

    Naturally and coincidentally, you'd have to start with center depth, move on down to the blue line, then finally settle in the crease. That's in terms of on-ice issues anyway. Maybe you mention the cronyism somewhere, the total lack of accountability the team seems to carry in its organizational bones like ink-black corrosive marrow.

    One thing you might not mention is that a cloud seems to hang over this team like a rumbling thunderhead, waiting for the Next Big Screwup so that the finger-pointing can begin anew, as it has at least three or four times a season more or less since the Oilers last made the playoffs.

    Turns out they can't.

    If the Oilers could run either prospect down in this season, maybe all the futility will have been worth it.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

  • Maple Leafs are a mess no one’s sure how to clean up (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    This is what happens when you chase mysticism down a rabbit hole.

    The Leafs have, for so long, been on the hunt for whatever it is that made them quote-unquote successful in the lockout-shortened season, spiraling themselves deeper into the world of finger-pointing and second-guessing with every embarrassing loss. And there have been, at this point, a lot of embarrassing losses to choose from.

    Randy Carlyle has been coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs for three “full” seasons plus 18 more games from before the aforementioned lockout. He's coached 168 games for the Leafs, including last night's home tilt with Tampa, the results of which matter not at all (full disclosure: This is being written in advance of that game, which they ended up winning, but regardless of whatever the result might have been, great victory or gutting defeat, the problems of this Leafs team remain its problems and will do so until something is done behind the bench and in the front office). None of the losses, though, were more humiliating for him and his charges and bosses and fans than Tuesday's titanous 9-2 loss against the Nashville Predators.

    And he really shouldn't be for much longer.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins/Habs, NHL in Vegas, World Cup and best goalie ever

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    [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. The Bruins in Montreal

    You've never seen a great team so scared of a big rival over a period of a few years as the Boston Bruins currently are of the Montreal Canadiens.

    The thing is, the Bruins usually don't win in Montreal, either. Not these days. Not anymore. Including last year's playoffs, the Bruins are 6-9-3 against the Canadiens over the last three seasons, including 3-6 at Bell Centre.

    7. The World Cup of Hockey format

    The new/old World Cup of Hockey tournament is basically guaranteed to replace the NHL's Olympic participation at some point within the next decade, but if the format holds up as is rumored, it's going to be dumb.

    6. “Get away from me”-Gate

    It's about ethics in Leafs journalism.

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Problems for Minnesota; Michigan Tech takes No. 1; Casey DeSmith dismissed?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 5 days ago

    (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.)

    It really seemed like Minnesota might have been the No. 1 team in the country from start to finish this season.

    The Gophers, national runners up last season with very few meaningful losses over the summer, are far and away the best on-paper team in the country, and any series they played from October to March always seemed as though it would have a pretty good chance of ending in a sweep for the U. Obviously teams don't win every game for a full season, but with this club you at least felt like the likelihood that it would come out of any given game with two points, regardless of venue or opponent, was exceedingly high.

    So one has to wonder: If the Gophers gave up 28 shots (and three goals) in close to 24 minutes of power play time, is that an outlier or a problem with the penalty kill?

    They're also probably going to be a little ways back of the Gophers. Just like everyone else.

    Making sense of BU's start

    DeSmith dismissed?

  • What We Learned: So what can the Blue Jackets do now?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 7 days ago

    Sergei Bobrovsky returned to the lineup on Saturday and helped Columbus pick up a win, stopping 36 of 37 from a potent San Jose offense.

    It was Columbus's second win in a row, and the first of them broke up what had been, to that point, a nine-game losing streak. Nine games is obviously a lot, about 11 percent of a team's overall schedule, from which to get just a single point from an overtime loss, and the Blue Jackets are consequently now definitively behind the 8-ball in terms of their ability to make the playoffs.

    So far behind, in fact, that even with the four points gained this weekend, through Saturday's games, they were still only three points ahead of the Sabres and tied with Carolina in the league standings.

    (Now, if you're going to fall backwards into a season in which being unexpectedly and deeply terrible all of a sudden is your thing, then the McDavid/Eichel sweepstakes season is the one in which to do it. But that's beside the point.)

    The question instead is what they will theoretically be able to do as more and more guys come back healthy and ready to contribute.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

    Minus of the Weekend

    ***

  • Why the Connor McDavid fighting debate matters (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 9 days ago

    What Connor McDavid did earlier this week was stupid. Everyone agrees on that.

    The presumptive No. 1 pick in this June's draft should not under any circumstances be trying to fight anyone for any reason at any time. This is true at any level: If a team lets its best player by far, an elite talent, get into a fight with some kid who might play a couple years of minor pro before he's never heard from outside a Toronto beer league again, it has essentially failed him. Yes, Bryson Cianfrone is captain of the Steelheads, but he has three more points in his two-year OHL career than McDavid did in his first 18 games this season. These are guys who are not on the same level, and thus engagement should not be allowed to take place. In this way, the Erie Otters let McDavid down.  

    You also get why it happened. How many slashes and crosschecks and spears and gloved punches can one 17-year-old endure before he just starts swinging? Unfortunate but that's what happens sometimes. It used to be that Sidney Crosby occasionally fought for the same reasons.

    Which isn't, or at least shouldn't be, the point.

    Here's the real deal on fighting: It's going to go away.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Slava Voynov and Kings; glow pucks; Coyotes' funding

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 11 days ago

    [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.]  

    7. Being Dean Lombardi

    The past few weeks or or so has been pretty hard on the Los Angeles Kings, because one of their best defensemen got suspended (albeit for something abominable), in such a way that his significant cap hit of $4.1 million stays on the books.

    Slava Voynov was suspended toward the end of October, and the Kings have had to carry that cap hit the entire time even while calling up another defenseman, and other injuries have stretched the team thin. So thin, in fact, that they only dressed 17 in a recent game because they would have been a whopping $160 (that's one hundred sixty dollars and no cents) over the cap if they'd added literally anyone.

    6. “The cap's going up”

    4. Milestones

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Massive sanctions vs. Alaska; what's wrong with Wisconsin?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 13 days ago

    (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.)  

    T his year was the final one of conference realignment, as the UConn Huskies moved from Atlantic Hockey to Hockey East.

    What you need to know about UConn is that they are kind of a team without a home, and in a serious state of transition. Their on-campus rink is tiny, cold, and doesn't seat enough people to meet Hockey East conference rules, meaning that even their home games are going to be played in rinks that aren't particularly close to the school: Hartford's XL Center (which is more or less their “home” rink), and Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena (where they will play five games this year). 

    They're also just now getting up to the allowable 18 scholarships for players, which Hockey East requires, both in terms of the rules and for a team with designs on one day being competitive. The maximum in Atlantic Hockey was 12, but in order to comply with Title IX, the Huskies went without altogether.

    Alaska faces huge sanctions

  • What We Learned: Your dislike of Sidney Crosby is facile and childish

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 14 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.)  

    In case you didn't hear about it (just kidding, you did), Sidney Crosby had five points against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

    This in and of itself is pretty unremarkable even if five assists is something that doesn't come along too often. The last player to do it was Jamie Benn to the pitiful Calgary Flames last season, and before that Crosby did it to the Islanders in March 2013. This was, in fact, the third five-assist game of Crosby's career. But what is remarkable is how infrequently Crosby is doing this kind of thing to lousy teams this year. He's mostly been doing it to good ones.

    What we are seeing is remarkable, but then the question becomes whether it's also sustainable.

    People seem to get fatigued by all the praise he gets, but I can't understand it. Any dislike of him is facile and childish, with no legitimate basis other than, “He guts my favorite team.”

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

  • Stop apologizing for that terrible Marc-Andre Fleury contract (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 17 days ago

    When the Penguins' four-year, $23 million extension for Marc-Andre Fleury was announced on Wednesday, the hockey world quickly divided itself into two camps. First, there was the, “Well, they had to do it and it's fine, I guess,” camp. Second, there was the, “Hahaha, what?” camp. There wasn't really much of a statistically significant, “This is a good deal camp.”

    But what's funny is that even that first camp, the one that ostensibly supported the deal because of Pittsburgh's perceived lack of better options, still have to register their defense of it with more buts than a Sir Mix-A-Lot video. Only the most ardent Penguins fanboys, those who would cite his wins total as a reason to keep Fleury around, were the ones who thought this was an unequivocal slam-dunk great deal by a GM who won't be around to see it come to its probably-fortunate end.

    So it's important to explore what those qualifiers to the Fleury contract, which isn't a very good one, because you'd need a machete to cut through the thicket in any discussion. So let's say it together, with the caveat that these are all arguments I've actually heard:

    ...the cap's going up.