Ryan Lambert

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

    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.)

    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 2 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 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.]    

    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 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.)    

    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 7 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 9 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.  

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Will top powers come together in time?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 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.)    

    One thing you can set your watch to in college hockey is that Boston College and Michigan are going to be good pretty much every year.

    That really hasn't been the case so far this season; the Eagles are a game above .500 at 8-7-1, and Michigan recently needed a spate of games against some serious cupcakes (AIC, RPI, Ohio State) to get to the, ahem, lofty record of 8-6. It has, understandably, been something of a headscratcher for the college hockey punditry. How could two teams with so much talent on paper, and such quality coaching staffs, be so deeply mediocre?

    Is it just one of those things that can happen when you've only played 14 or 16 games? Or is it indicative of deeper problems? The answer, unfortunately for both the teams in question and observers trying to figure it out, is “both.”

    Maybe no one's really great

    Hockey East at the break

    Robert Morris running away with it

    7.     Miami (split with Omaha)

     

  • What We Learned: Waiting for the Calgary Flames crash

    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.)

    So the Calgary Flames are good, and no one saw that coming.

    How could they? This is a team with maybe four players that other teams would really and truly step over their grandmothers to acquire; a team that spent most of the summer pegged as being a lock to spend the year in the league's basement.

    But a check of the standings here in early December shows Calgary as being very comfortably in a Western Conference playoff spot, and sitting with losses in the single digits through 28 games. It seems impossible, and yet here we are.

    Put another way: The Flames are winning, with regularity, but they shouldn't be.

    Already this season, the Flames have entered the third period trailing 13 times, and they've somehow come back to win six of those games. By comparison, the Oilers are in the same ballpark, and have even been able to extend any such game to overtime just once (they, of course, lost).

    Two things, actually:

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

  • Boston Bruins have problems, most of them self-created (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 17 days ago

    Heading into Thursday night's game in San Jose -- a 7-4 loss to the Sharks -- the Boston Bruins were slumping. They'd won just one of their last five games, and their offense had been anemic. Six goals in 310 minutes of hockey, while allowing 11.  

    If you allow 11 goals in 310 minutes, you should reasonably expect to come out with a lot more than three points, but alas, the Bruins cannot muster any sort of meaningful run support for poor Tuukka Rask. This, in a nutshell, has been the Bruins' problem all year.

    Last year, the Bruins finished third in the league with 3.15 goals per game. During the lockout-shortened season they finished 13th at 2.65 per. The year before, they were tied for second at 3.17. And before that they were fifth at 2.98. For years, then, the Bruins have been a dominant offensive force over any given 82-game period. Ahead of the San Jose game, though, the offense was just 23rd in the league at just 2.35 goals per game, one spot and two-hundredths of a goal ahead of the pitiable Carolina Hurricanes.

    What they don't have, near as anyone can tell these days, is someone who can actually put the puck in the net with any kind of reliability.

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Kings’ Voynov fine; Norris Trophy; Marty Brodeur

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 18 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.]  

    10,243. The Kings 

    Morally, a $100,00 fine was too good for them.

    For some idiotic reason, the Kings thought it would be a good idea to let Slava Voynov, who is suspended by the league from all team activities, and also carrying some rather grave domestic violence charges, practice with his club.

    Because he practiced.

    With his team.

    We know now that they do not. They respect victims here about as much as the NFL does, which is to say: Not at all. 

    7. Norris voting

    As a general rule, I don't put a lot of stock into the stat GVT (“goals versus threshold”) because it is extremely imperfect and quirky. It will spit out all kinds of weird numbers that make you wonder what the hell is happening.

    6. The Guarantee Pt. 2