Ryan Lambert

  • Are the Florida Panthers actually a playoff team? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 hrs ago

    A quick look at the standings in the Eastern Conference shows two things you probably wouldn't expect to see: The Bruins out of a playoff spot (still), and the Panthers rather close to one.  

    They're running Nos. 8 and 9 in the East at this moment, and it's been a bit of a joke for a while now that they've been flip-flopping back and forth, more or less constantly flirting with a playoff spot and occasionally seizing it. Right now, the Bruins are one point back of Washington with an extra game played, and the Panthers are two out with two games in hand. This is, to Bruins fans, a sign of the apocalypse; “How could they possibly be as bad as the Panthers?”

    And no, certainly Boston shouldn't be this bad, but the question is really whether the Panthers should be this good.

    “Good,” here is obviously a relative term.

    Hell, their team shooting percentage at 5-on-5 is just 6.6 percent. That's ahead of only Carolina, Columbus, and Arizona.

    Given where everyone thought this team could finish, whatever happens for them this year, in terms of success, has to be considered a bonus. At least they're finally moving in the right direction.

  • World Junior Preview: McDavid vs. Eichel (also featuring like 200 other players)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 6 hrs ago

    It's just about that time of year again, when Canada descends into a frenzy over a bunch of 19-year-old kids not-winning a gold medal while the rest of the world looks on impassively like, “Hmm, yes that certainly is a mid-season hockey tournament.”  

    But this year's IIHF World Junior Championship is different for two reasons: 1) It is being played in Montreal and Toronto, so you know that the second these Canadian kids don't beat Slovakia or Germany by 60, the team bus is going to be pelted with rotten eggs all the way back to the hotel, and 2) The consensus Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the coming draft will be going head-to-head as they headline the two best teams in the tournament by a mile.

    I just listed five of the 10 countries participating in the tournament this year, and those are the only five to medal in this tournament over the last five years. And Finland's gold last year was their only takeaway from an otherwise dismal series of crushing defeats in that time.

    So let's instead focus on those two teams. They are, if we're being honest, the only two you actually care about, and they are of course top-lined by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

     

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: KHL problems, trade targets and diving in NHL

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 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. The KHL

    Reasonable observers of the hockey universe have known for some time now that the KHL was a gigantic joke of a league, propped up by the worst kind of plutocrats, and in which Russians could feel their particular brand of national pride about luring away one actual good NHL player ever.

    Current points leader in the KHL: Alex Radulov, who is an NHL washout. No. 2: Ilya Kovalchuk, who is that aforementioned actual good player. No. 3: Stevie Moses, who is... who?

    But that has to more or less officially end the idea that this league has ever or would ever pose a real threat to the NHL. They got Ilya Kovalchuk, though. Gotta give 'em a lot of credit.

    6. Mike Smith

    5. Divers

    4. Trade targets

    3. The Sharks

    2. Johnny Gaudreau

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Breaking down bizarre first half; holiday tournament preview

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 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.)  

    With last weekend's lone series between Omaha and Huntsville now officially done, that closes the books on the first half of the college hockey season.

    And so far, it's been a weird one.

    By the numbers, the best two teams in the country as far as the Pairwise rankings — used to set the NCAA tournament bracket at season's end — are Minnesota State (13-4-0) and Harvard (9-1-2), which is in and of itself strange enough. But traditional powers like North Dakota, Minnesota, and Boston College haven't quite been their dominant selves either, coming in at Nos. 10, 11, and 23, respectively. Nebraska-Omaha has a great record, Bowling Green has a great record, Merrimack has a great record.

    Robert Morris has the best offense in the country. Vermont has the best defense. None of these things could have been predicted to start the year, and it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Post-Christmas tournament preview

    Saturday and Sunday

     

  • What We Learned: Why aren't the LA Kings doing better?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 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.)

    Right now, the Los Angeles Kings are safely ensconced in a playoff spot, which is something you'd expect from a reigning Stanley Cup champion which returned just about everyone. But the fact is that that their grip on a wild card spot has been tenuous at best for some time now, with the club rarely gaining more than three or four points on the ninth-place team in the West.

    And it doesn't make a lot of sense.

    On paper, they're just as good as they were last year, more or less, when they were a 100-point club. In fact, some of their young players who are still in a position to be considered up-and-coming have developed nicely this year, and Jonathan Quick to this point has been playing some of the best hockey in his career, posting a .923 save percentage in 27 games.

    After all, they're the Kings. And the Kings are one of the best teams in the league. Except in away 5-on-4 or 4-on-5 situations, apparently.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

  • The Process vs. The Results for Oilers, Flames (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 7 days ago

    The thing you hear people who have come to understand the game more fully in the past few years talk about a lot is “The Process.”

    The Process, in hockey, is everything.

    It's hard to define exactly what The Process is or isn't, because people may see it as different things. For some people, it's defined by wins and losses: If you're winning, you're doing things right, and if you're losing, you're doing things wrong.

    For others, it relates to goals: If the goals are going in, or being kept out, for any given length of time, that too is an indicator that a team is good or turned a corner from being bad or has had something go horrible wrong. And for some, something as simple as possession numbers indicate whether things are going right or wrong for a team.

    But Minnesota is undoubtedly a better team than the Oilers, both in terms of actual on-ice product and in roster construction: They have better players at nearly every slot of the lineup. They are a clear playoff team, where the Oilers are very much not. Even at 10-8-1, people in the Twin Cities often acted as though the sky were crashing down around them.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Edmonton Oilers dumpster fire edition

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 9 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. Dallas Eakins

    What happened?

    It was, what, like a week and a half prior to Dallas Eakins' dismissal that Craig MacTavish said that firing the coach wasn't really a feasible option for the club right now?

    The obvious and logical question many had at that point, then, was, “What changed?”

    Now, given his earlier comments (and, rather bizarrely, those in the “I just fired a guy” presser that followed) about whether Dallas Eakins was particularly to blame for these losses or indeed the current state of the entire team — specifically: He was not — the decision to fire him came as a bit of a shock.

    Boss: “Hey Steve I heard your work truck caught on fire?”

    Steve: “That seems bad. But what are you gonna do, right?”

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Omaha keeps rolling; Game cancelled for the flu?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 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.)    

    A few weeks ago in this space, there was a look at the season Omaha had enjoyed to that point. Essentially, the takeaway was that the Mavericks had won a lot of games, but the underlying numbers all suggested that they shouldn't have been as successful as they were. 

    But what's been interesting is that over these last three weeks or so, they've suffered a bit of a bumpier road: they went up to Grand Forks and took just a point from North Dakota (they actually won the first game in a shootout but for all intents and purposes other than NCHC standings, which I don't care about, it was a draw), they split at Miami, then swept St. Cloud in Omaha.

    Whether they'll actually deserve to be there is another matter entirely.

    UMass adds Ducks second-rounder Montour

    The list of grim statistics go on and on, but first and foremost is the fact that their team goaltending has delivered unto them a save percentage of just .865 this year.

  • What We Learned: Is Nashville a giant tease or playoff threat?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 11 days ago

    Most observers of this league can probably agree that one of the big surprises so far this season has been the overwhelming and frankly shocking success of the Nashville Predators.

    Here we are in mid-December and the Preds, with a new coach and very much retooled roster, are putting together a very convincing case that they will be making the playoffs with relative ease in another four months' time. Most predictions for Conference III specifically probably would have put them a little bit outside the top-3, logically behind Chicago and St. Louis, and maybe Dallas — woefully disappointing Dallas — and even Minnesota. Put another way, “on the outside looking in” was probably a reasonable place to put their playoff hopes.

    But at this point, even if they go .500 the rest of the way, the likelihood that they miss the playoffs isn't as big as it probably should be given the on-paper talent. This is a team using Colin Wilson as its No. 2 center, and say what you want about his season (it's been okay!) but that doesn't typically portend “Western Conference heavyweight.”

    What We Learned

    Chicago Blackhawks: I think Patrick Kane is good. Man oh man.

    Play of the Weekend

  • A stagnant cap would change the entire league (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 14 days ago

    NHL officials love to say that the league has a lot of parity in it but that's not necessarily true.

    There's a lot of forced parity, of course, because three-point games necessarily inflate teams' totals at the end of the season, and sometimes even help bad teams make the playoffs when they absolutely should not do so in a just universe. But real parity? Look at the last several Cup winners and try to tell anyone with a straight face that this is a league where anyone can win.

    There also probably isn't a whole lot the league itself can do to engender any kind of actual parity that ensures the Haves of the past few years can, in some way, be caught up by the Have Nots. Fortunately, though, the global economy might unwittingly intervene on behalf of everyone who isn't Chicago and Los Angeles.

    Gary Bettman this week told the Board of Governors that he expects the salary cap for next season to come in at around $73 million . That's up $4 million from the current $69 million, and should give a lot of teams more added flexibility than they current have right now. And a lot of teams need it.