Ryan Lambert

  • Minnesota Wild, angry coaches and Maple Leafs (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 21 hrs 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.)  

    8. Outdoor games

    Wow, finally an outdoor game with Chicago. Finally an outdoor game with Philadelphia. Finally an outdoor game with Pittsburgh. It's been more than a year since we saw all of these teams play outdoors and so it's really nice to see them rewarded again.

    7. The Wild

    Boy oh boy. Where to begin with these guys?

    What's most amazing here is that no one seems to have seen this coming. They're a decent team with some good players on the roster. But if they don't get Devan-Dubnyk-last-year goaltending (.936 after the trade) they don't make the playoffs then, either. This year, Dubnyk has merely been a little above average, at .918, and so suddenly giving up an extra half-goal a game becomes a major issue when it comes to winning and losing.

    Here's the problem: Parise makes more than $7.5 million against the cap. Koivu is at $6.75 million. Vanek is at $6.5 million. Jason Pominville is at $5.6 million. Yeah I wonder why they can't score too.

    6. Taking the news well

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Time to blow up Beanpot tournament format

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    It has long been acknowledged that the Beanpot has a serious problem, insofar as it ends up being interesting to only a small sliver of a small sliver of college hockey fandom.  

    Flagging attendance figures, diminished discussion, less lively crowds, etc. have only become more of an issue in recent years. It wasn't so long ago that Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, in an admittedly self-serving turn, told the New England Hockey Journal that the only thing that would really fix the Beanpot is if someone besides BC or BU were to win it.

    Which, let's face it, doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon.

    And even then, if Harvard were to somehow win it — for the first time since 1993 — that would be interesting for a year or two. But to put things flatly, very few people actually care whether Harvard wins or loses the Beanpot or just about any other hockey game. Their supporters' sections at the Beanpot are always always always wastelands, with maybe a dozen students, a small pep band, and not much to cheer about.

    So how do you fix the Beanpot?

    How many more? Try 12.

     

  • What We Learned: How Sidney Crosby got his groove back

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    There's a pretty simple way to break down the resurgence of Sidney Crosby that, on the surface, is very damning for former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston.

    - Sidney Crosby's career average points per game before Johnston arrived: 1.4.

    - Sidney Crosby's average points per game under Johnston: 0.98.

    - Sidney Crosby's average points per game since Johnston left: 1.36

    One of these things is very obviously not like the other, and you can see why every Penguins fan had been complaining about the offensive output for world's best player under Johnston. Less than a point a game is pretty clearly not what we would or perhaps should expect out of Sidney Crosby.

    It also doesn't help that Crosby was only averaging about three shots per game under Johnston, as opposed to the almost 3.4 in his entire career prior, and 3.6 since. But obviously there's more to player performance over stretches of 100-plus games than the production of shots, goals, and points.

    But I have to wonder: Is that the level of impact Mike Johnston would have on a team?

    Johnston clearly adopted a more conservative style that might have impacted shot quality in a lot of ways.

    What We Learned

  • Bad penalty kill sinking Sharks at home (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 5 days ago

    Home ice advantage matters a great deal in the NHL.

    This shouldn't come as any sort of great shock, of course, but the ability to get in the last change, place your stick second on faceoffs, play in a familiar setting, etc. all adds up to a fairly significant statistical advantage that, of course, leads to plenty more wins than losses.

    Since the 2007-08 season, nearly 10,100 regular-season games have been played, and the home team in those games carries a marginal score-adjusted possession advantage of 50.2 percent, high-danger chance edge of 50.9 percent, draws 51.1 percent of penalties, wins 51.6 percent of draws, and perhaps most important a 52.3 percent goals-for advantage. These may seem to be only slightly above average and that is true, but that's lumping in really bad teams — we're talking late-2000s Atlanta Thrashers, recent Buffalo Sabres teams, and all other lottery picks — in with mega-dominant clubs like the late-2000s Detroit Red Wings, and Los Angeles Kings and Boston Bruins and so on.  

    Aren't you?

    Yup, San Jose is better at everything 5-on-5, and pretty well running the show against their opponents regardless of venue.

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  • Huge If True: Byfuglien to Los Angeles? Ladd to Florida?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 7 days ago

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

    The Rumor

    The big quote in the world of trade rumors over the last week came last Friday at the All-Star Weekend media day, when Dustin Byfuglien said of the likelihood that he re-signs with the Jets, “I don’t mind Winnipeg at all.”

    Headlines! Tweets! Radio segments!

    What does that even mean, Dustin? Six words that sound very damning indeed.

    But this is one of the problems with print: Not a lot of room for tone. People acted as though Byfuglien said it with the same enthusiasm as a child coming home from a bad day at school and saying it was, “Fine.”

    Which is of course a far cry from basically saying Winnipeg is fine but also he's almost certainly looking to leave.

    Here's how Byfuglien seems to have left it:

    “I just told my agent, ‘Don’t talk to be me about it. When things get close, let me know and we’ll have a quick chat about it.’ He’s got a job to do. I’ve got a job to do.”

    Who's Going Where?

    The Implications

    This Is So Huge, If True: Is It True?

     

  • So long and thanks for all the fists (Puck Daddy Countdown)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 8 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.)

    2,452,456. The NHL

    No one could have handled the John Scott thing, from front to back, worse than this league did. But as they've so often found out in the past, some things are just screwup-proof. Everyone loving John Scott specifically because of how the league tried to twist him at every turn was inevitable.

    If this league was run competently, I'd almost believe it was a wrestling angle from the start. But Gary Bettman is no Vince McMahon, so this was just then “I Didn't Do It'-ing their way into the best thing the league has done in years.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    3. The Skills Competition

    It was good.

    2. Going 3-on-3

    It was also good.

    1. So long, and thanks for all the fists

    There was only one thing in hockey to talk about at any sort of length this week, and that's the storybook capper to a bizarre NHL career.

    So in a lot of ways, this was a send-off for John Scott.

    But in another way, this was a send-off for what John Scott was.

    (Not ranked this week: Pekka Rinne.

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Beanpot that might have actually mattered

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 8 days ago

    BOSTON — On Feb. 14, 1993, Harvard won the Beanpot for the 10th and final time.

    On that date, exactly seven players in this year's iteration of the Beanpot were actually alive.  

    Not one of them was out of diapers. The oldest of them, Boston University's Mike Moran, had just rounded the bend into his Terrible Twos the previous September. For Northeastern and Harvard, the title droughts are now well into their Terrible Twenties. In recent years, the problem has really begun to weigh heavily on both the psyche of those two programs, and the attendance figures at TD Garden.

    This was the last chance for the last of a literal generation of hockey players for Northeastern or Harvard to make a dent in a four-team tournament dominated by just two teams. From 1994 to present, Boston College and Boston University have won nine and 13 Beanpots, respectively, and only lost to either Northeastern or Harvard a combined five times in elimination games.

    BU enters on a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) and has lost just once since Dec. 12, dropping a road game at, well, Boston College. They were 14-7-4 on the year coming in.

    Take a wild guess.

    1. Quinnipiac (won at Dartmouth)

     

  • What We Learned: Who is the NHL’s king of 3-on-3 OT?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 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.)

    The Calgary Flames have only been to overtime once since Dec. 17, and they ended up losing that game in a shootout.

    Prior to that, though, there was no team in the NHL that should have been more feared in the extra period of 3-on-3, because their success rate was mind-boggling. They've won eight of their 12 overtimes, lost once, and gone 1-2 in the three that lasted into the shootout. Any time you outscore your opponents 8-1 in any situation, even if it's only in a combined total of 32:48, you're in a good place.

    And moreover, when that scoring differential wins you eight more points in the standings, it's a major advantage.

    But as to the shooting percentage, well, there's plenty of reason to believe that can be kept up for quite a while to come, and it's all thanks to one man: Johnny Gaudreau.

    Except: It's the other way around.

    What We Learned  

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

    John Scott forever.

    Minus of the Weekend

  • We watched NHL All-Star Friday Night because you didn’t

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 days ago

    God bless PK Subban.

    About halfway through the third segment of “NHL All-Star Friday Night: Live in Music City” on NBCSN and Sportsnet — somehow, the title wasn't the clunkiest thing about this show — he felt the wave of absolute boredom getting up to his neck and tried like hell to save it. Roman Josi, like Preds teammates Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber in the first segment, was giving poor Kathryn Tappen absolutely zero. 

    Weber, by my count, said all of two sentences. Thanks for coming out, enjoy the Aaron Lewis song. Or at least try to pretend you enjoy it.

    “It's a fun city and it's a real hockey city and we have great fans and it's a big honor to be an All-Star in my hometown,” blah blah blah. Hard to come up with a new answer to literally the same question, I understand, but hooooo boy. So the same question goes to Subban, and he gives approximately the same answer. Of course then there's one about his suit, and he's trying to make something work.

    And to paraphrase the followup: “You're a defenseman in a 3-on-3 All-Star Game, so do you feel any pressure to play actual defense?”

    THE BEST

  • Why the Anaheim Ducks got hot (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 days ago

    You wouldn't know it these days, with Anaheim sitting at 10-3-1 in its last 14, but this team was awful not so long ago. 

    The Ducks started the year 12-15-6, and as of Dec. 22, right before the Christmas break, they were dead last in the Pacific, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the lowest point total in the entire NHL. Since then they've added 21 points in 14 games — a pace for 123 points — after amassing 29 in the first 32.

    They enter they All-Star break two points out of a playoff spot with two games in hand on the Arizona Coyotes.

    Remember, this was the team picked by almost everyone to walk away with a Presidents' Trophy this season, given the high-quality roster that was actually upgraded over the summer, the brilliant coach, and the easy division. There was little doubt that this club and the Washington Capitals were the most likely to be setting themselves up for a Stanley Cup showdown.

    And then this:

    But more than that, the scoring almost doesn't matter because the Ducks have just locked everything down to an hilarious extent since Christmas.

    It won't, of course. But it really, really should.

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