Ryan Lambert

  • What We Learned: Blackhawks playing dangerous game on defense

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 19 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.)

    Prior to Sunday night's game, very few players were in the same stratosphere in terms of minutes played as the Chicago defense.

    In terms of minutes per game, Chicago's top-four ranked second, eighth, 11th, and 14th among playoff players in terms of minutes per game at 5-on-5, which is crazy. . And granted, that comes with the caveat that Chicago is obviously playing a ton of overtime this postseason — 151:38 to be exact, a little more than two-and-a-half extra games — but nonetheless, there's a lot of work being given to what are, essentially, just four guys.

    But there are two questions that should nag at anyone watching this happen, including Quenneville:

    1) How wise is it to deploy defensemen like that?

    2) Could the other guys actually handle a little more than, say, 10 minutes a night in most cases?

    We are, effectively, in uncharted territory. No team in modern hockey has ever used its defensemen like this.

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

  • What Mike Babcock can actually do for Maple Leafs (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    You can be 100 percent sure of two things with Mike Babcock going to Toronto: 

    1) The amount of money he's being paid literally doesn't matter at all to the club.

    2) The Leafs' management did more due diligence from a statistical point of view than most other teams would have.

    So with the first issue in mind, let's stop fretting about how much money he's being paid — even if $50 million over eight seasons is, indeed, a lot — because they gave David Clarkson almost as much, and Babcock doesn't count against the cap.

    But if you're paying your coach that much money, it doesn't matter how big your Scrooge McDuck vault is: He needs to produce.

    And the Leafs have indeed had a production problem for a good long while now. The last time they were a positive possession team for the entirety of a season it was 2009-10. (And a fat lot of good that did them because they finished with 74 points that year, their second-worst total since 1998, eclipsed only by this past season's disaster.) 

    And using that data, we begin to see a picture of Babcock's coaching prowess emerge:

    The year after that, they acquired Chris Pronger.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Marty St. Louis struggles, Michel Therrien’s problems

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 5 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.]  

    10. Sore losers

    Russia didn't win the gold medal game so they left the ice to cry about it instead. They're the worst.

    9. Martin St. Louis

    While everyone has been busy talking about what a big-time loser idiot Rick Nash has been for the Rangers in this postseason (unfairly), no one seems to be batting an eye at the fact that 92-year-old Marty St. Louis has been overpaid hot garbage for the Rangers.

    In exchange for their $5.625 million against the cap this year, the Rangers got possession well below even, a hugely percentage-fueled 52 points and a pathetic playoff performance.

    8. Getting the band back together

    7. The Glendale situation

    6. Michel Therrien

     

    5. Alex Ovechkin

    3. Being little

    2. The Oilers

  • Ryan Kesler vs. Jonathan Toews makes everyone happier (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 6 days ago

    There was no shortage of coverage for the return of Ryan Kesler's team playing Jonathan Toews's team in the postseason, and what that meant for their personal rivalry. In short, these are two players who do not like each other. But beyond the war of words both through the media and on the ice, the Kesler/Toews matchup presents a series of rather interesting circumstances for all involved.  

    One of the big things that was going to be most interesting for me in this series was seeing how Joel Quenneville and Bruce Boudreau matched lines against each other. These are two teams with high-quality first and second lines, and each has the ability to do significant damage to opponents.

    Anaheim can roll Maroon/Getzlaf/Perry against anyone in the league and feel pretty good about its chances, and the Beleskey/Kesler/Silfverberg second unit has been paying dividends basically all postseason. Likewise, Chicago's Saad/Toews/Hossa and Bickell/Richards/Kane groups are dangerous at all times. So who was going to match up against whom?

    Put another way: Getzlaf outscores everyone on Chicago, but he outscores Kane and anyone but Jonathan Toews most of all.

  • What We Learned: Why is Rick Nash so bad in the playoffs?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 7 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.)  

    Each year, the New York Rangers make the playoffs. Each year, Rick Nash is criticized for not producing.

    This kind of thing is common in hockey, of course. Sidney Crosby has faced it. Alex Ovechkin has faced it. If you put up a lot of points in the regular season and then not-a-lot in the playoffs, especially if your team is unceremoniously bounced, then you get called out. No one would ever mistake Nash for a player of Crosby’s or Ovechkin’s level; he’s long been an All-Star but never has he been in the conversation for “best in the world." 

    But the question, then, is whether this is just another Ovechkin/Crosby/Stamkos run of bad luck; that is to say: Those players basically play at the same level and have suffered playoff difficulties because of hot goalies, bad luck, and maybe a few undisclosed injuries, so does Nash fall into the same boat?

    But he never does against these teams.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

  • Alex Ovechkin and the end of playoff choker label (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 days ago

    The NHL's Eastern Conference Final begin Saturday afternoon, and for the 10th season running, Alex Ovechkin will not be participating.

    For years, Ovechkin has been dogged by criticisms of his play, and particularly that in the postseason, because for as good as he is and basically always has been, he's never been able to guide the Washington Capitals past the second round of the playoffs. And he's only even gotten that far four times; that's only one more trip than the number of times the Caps have missed the playoffs entirely with him on the roster.

    But the good news is that people seem to finally be starting to realize, “Hey, maybe literally all those Capitals teams just weren't good enough, and Ovechkin couldn't be superhuman in comparison with his already-superhuman performances in the regular season.”

    In terms of both generating shots and goals, the Capitals have lagged significantly behind Ovechkin and his linemates, which you would expect to some point. If nothing else, Ovechkin is at least a demigod when it comes to putting shots on goal, and this is true, to a lesser extent, of goal-scoring. His teammates are therefore clearly less so.

     

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Alex Ovechkin’s guarantee, Mike Babcock and blind faith

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 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. Guarantees

    Alex Ovechkin is human garbage to make a guarantee!!!!!!!

    Not like Great Leader Mark Messier, who is a perfect angel. Ovechkin is bad.

    6. Blind faith

    On some level you have to stick by your guy if you let him fire the coach and steer your team rather cavalierly into the ground — you don't want to look ineffectual, after all — but the extent to which Sharks owner Hasso Plattner defended Doug Wilson this week was simply breathtaking. A small sampling follows.

    Why Doug Wilson still has a job:

  • Why Calgary Flames can't buy their own hype (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 13 days ago

    So the Calgary Flames were eliminated on Sunday night and that's fair enough. The Anaheim Ducks were and are a much better team. But the important part here is the lesson they can take from that opponent.

    For the last few years, the Ducks were criticized heavily for their inability to get too deep in the playoffs. They'd rack up a bunch of points in the regular season (an average of 102 per 82-game season in the last four) then lose in the playoffs, often in embarrassing fashion, and then work to figure things out over the summer with little success. It wasn't until this year, when a stock of young talent shored up the team's depth while Bob Murray went out and got a legitimate, defensively responsible No. 2 center in Ryan Kesler to help ease the usage on the Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry duo.

    And it worked. The Ducks posted the third-best regular season in franchise history, and have now gone 8-1 in two playoff series (albeit against a banged-up Jets team and a poor Flames club). While it's tough to say they're better than Chicago, they're certainly better positioned to give a team of such power a legitimate run for their money.

    MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

  • What We Learned: Are bigger nets really answer to NHL scoring woes?

    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.  

    The difference is just 1.21 inches. That's about the size of a U.S. half-dollar. And yet in the NHL, it seems to be everything.

    Or so people would have you believe.

    That number is the difference in size between the average NHL goaltender in 1983-84 to present. And among many other things, that has lately been attributed to the much, much smaller number of goals being scored in the average NHL game. Over that same span — and this is a bizarre coincidence — the average number of goals scored per team per game is down... 1.21.

    It's almost impossible to believe that anyone would look at 1.21 inches and say to themselves, “Well this is the problem with the damn sport now,” but they might actually be right. These lines fit together pretty convincingly (all this data from Hockey Reference):

    (You also wonder if they've tried asking the goalies not to try as hard. That could be a big help.)

  • Why are second-round Stanley Cup series so one-sided? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 17 days ago

    In theory, each round of the postseason in any sport is supposed to be what separates out the weak teams from the strong. In theory, it's hard for a worse team to win four games against a better one, even if the margin between them is thin. It doesn't always happen that way, of course, but that's how it's supposed to work.

    Consequently, as you advance through the playoffs the series are supposed to be closer; teams that win — even handily — in the first round shouldn't have quite so easy of a time in the second, and so on. And yet, here we are on the verge of a pair of sweeps, with two more series looking like they ought to wrap up pretty quickly themselves. And if you look at the numbers, all the teams that “should have” won their series are cruising. 

    A large part of this is that it was a weird year in the NHL. It seemed that a lot more teams got by on PDO — the Flames, Canadiens, and Rangers all fit that description, and you could make an argument for the Wild as well once Dubnyk came aboard — than usual, and that will help to make their matchups against better teams look even uglier than many might have expected.