Ryan Lambert

  • What We Learned: Should the NY Rangers actually scare anyone?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 21 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.)

    Henrik Lundqvist returned to the lineup on Saturday for the first time since Feb. 2, meaning he missed more than a month and a half.

    On Feb. 2, the Rangers earned their 62nd point of the season in just their 48th game, which is a pretty good rate (a pace for almost 106 points for the season) but only good enough for third in the division and a tie for seventh in the conference. Losing Lundqvist was supposed to have been a disaster of near-biblical proportions.

    Lundqvist is  perhaps the single most important player in the league in terms of what he brings to his team every night, in the form of reliably all-time-great goaltending; the last time he was south of .920 for the season, a rate touched only 134 times in league history, Barack Obama had been in office for three months. Thus, losing him for any length of time could have proved disastrous. A month and a half might have been a death sentence.

    What We Learned

    Play of the Weekend

    Gold Star Award

  • NCAA Hockey: Jon Gillies is awesome, Providence’s Frozen Four ticket punched

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 21 hrs ago

    In which we recap the day’s events in the NCAA tournament.

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — At this level of the game, they don’t really come much better at their jobs than Jon Gillies. 

    Yes, goaltenders can have great individual seasons that exceed what Gillies does as reliably as a metronome; but in terms of the body of work, and what has happened over the last three seasons at Providence College, few compare to the towering Calgary Flames prospect.

    After Saturday’s statistically poor and frankly bizarre game — he gave up five on 29, three of which were extra-attacker goals over the final 13 minutes in a game Providence led by four — he was once again reliably boring in picking up a 23-save win against Denver. His Friars won 4-1, largely because they did what they couldn’t do for so long the night before and actually scored twice into an empty net -- and they're headed to the Frozen Four about an hour up the road in Boston.

    “That was some pretty lively glass,” Gillies said. “That had to have been, first of all, a hard shot and a big carom to be able to get all the way back over the net in the air.”

    Has been all year. Has been for three years.

    Nebraska-Omaha 4, RIT 0

    Three stars

    See above.

  • NCAA Hockey: More Boston magic; RIT pulls off massive upset

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    In which we recap the day’s events in the NCAA tournament.

    MANCHESTER, N.H. — Let’s put it this way: If BU has even the remotest chance of coming back in a game, its almost inhuman ability to dominate the third period all but assures that it will. 

    Their game against Minnesota-Duluth was tied at two goals apiece through two periods, but BU made a little switch or two — mixing up the depth lines, changing up the forecheck, the standard stuff it usually does at this point in the game to disquiet opponents — and really stepped into the game in a way it has so many times before.

    The top line, indomitable as it so often is at this point of games, crushed UMD in possession, drew a late penalty, and underrated senior Evan Rodrigues scored a wonderful individual goal at 17:36 of the third on the ensuing power play. BU won 3-2 and punched its ticket to the Frozen Four. Because of course it did. It was always going to.

    “I thought we did what we do best,” BU coach David Quinn said. “I thought we had a great third period. We were relentless, we we smart, and we just did the things we needed to do to win an incredibly important hockey game and extend our season.”

    RIT 2, Minnesota State 1

  • NCAA Hockey: Jack Eichel line leads BU; Minnesota annihilated

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 2 days ago

    In which we recap the day’s events in the NCAA tournament.

    MANCHESTER, N.H. — The danger was clear: Yale might shut down the BU top line.

    The danger was also remote, sure, but you’re talking about Yale, the No. 1 defensive team in the country. And yeah, you’re also talking about BU, the No. 1 offensive team in the country, and a top line centered by Jack Eichel, which entered the game having outscored opponents by 39 at even strength this season, and which carried a possession share in excess of 60 percent when it was on the ice.

    An unfortunate tendency toward slow starts in the first period appeared to have long since been vanquished, too.

    Yale, meanwhile, was a strong possession team in their own right (53.1 percent corsi, 19th in the country) with a lights-out goaltending and a clear disposition toward … well, not necessarily stifling attempts per se, but certainly limiting second- and third-chance opportunities. Alex Lyon, as good a goalie as there was in the country this season, was the national save percentage leader for a reason. For 35 minutes or so, things seemed to be working Yale’s favor.

    And overwhelming talent, for that matter.

    St. Cloud 3, Michigan Tech 2 (OT)

    Three stars

  • Why terrible GMs would love to raise NHL Draft age (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    Craig Custance had a terribly interesting piece on Wednesday about the slowly bubbling idea among some general managers, and certainly emanating from the the NHL itself, that would fundamentally change the sport.

    The idea is a simple one: Raise the draft age from 18 to 20. 

    Today, only about 1 in 5 players who get drafted end up playing more than 200 NHL games, and it's thought that the 20 percent success rate comes in large part from the ability to project what a 17-year-old kid will be as a player five, eight, or 10 years later. If you tack on two more years for the evaluation process, you reduce your chances of missing on a pick substantially, at least in theory.

    What's interesting is that these players generally seem to be less “ready” than the 18-year-olds. Averages for everything at evens (except CF%, interestingly) drop off at least a little bit, and you might be able to attribute some of that to their slightly more difficult usage in terms of where they start their shifts.

  • NCAA hockey tournament preview: Another wide-open field

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    It's not really fun or interesting to say “Any team could win this thing” — and it's also not true — but almost any team could win this thing.

    There are so many teams in the field of 16 this season that can absolutely steal a game from a higher seed or fend off tough competition from a lower one just as easily as they could lose. While a 16-team field obviously produces eight “favorites,” you probably wouldn't be too wise to bet on the chalk in this one.

    Let's first consider the No. 1 overall team Minnesota State Mavericks. They reigned supreme this year with the best record in college hockey (29-7-3) behind the best possession game in the country. Now, would they win 29 games if their conference didn't feature three teams from the bottom eight on a national basis? Obviously not. They played Alabama-Huntsville, Lake Superior State, and Alaska Anchorage a combined eight times this season, and predictably won them all (34-7 on aggregate in fact), so that helps pad out the ol' winning percentage. But this is a good team that would have competed in any conference.

    No. 1 Minnesota State Mavericks (29-7-3)

    No. 2 North Dakota (27-9-3)

    No. 9 Harvard Crimson (21-12-3)

  • Puck Daddy Power Rankings: Bruins' playoff hopes; college hockey awards; Calder race

    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.] 

    7. “Fans don't care about CapGeek.”

    Just make salary information publicly available, you dopes. Everyone wants it.

    6. The Bruins

    Just when you thought things couldn't possibly get any worse, the David Krejci-less Boston Bruins, losers of their last five and surrenderers of the final playoff spot in the East, announce that Dougie Hamilton is out “indefinitely.”

    They had to know this season could have turned out like this, but man the end is shaping up to be torturous.

    5. College hockey awards

    4. Ilya Kovalchuk's return

    3. Weirdly valuable players

    2. The Calder race

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Some non-tournament housekeeping

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 6 days ago

    [Our annual big NCAA tournament preview will run later this week. For now, here's some stuff about a bunch of teams that didn't make the tournament.]

    When discussing teams that just barely missed out on the tournament the ones that come to mind quickest are, obviously, the ones that just missed out on making it.

    Typically, the “magic number” for a team to make the tournament if they came out of even a half-decent conference is 22 wins. You get to that plateau and you will typically find yourself in pretty good standing regardless of who you beat and lost to, or how you did in your conference tournament. And yet here we are, with four bubble teams having missed out; Bowling Green had 23 wins, while Colgate, Michigan, and Vermont piled up 22 each. Lowell fell just short at 21, and St. Lawrence had 20. None of it was good enough.  

    Colgate, Michigan, and Vermont are harder to explain.

    Oh well, you can all try again next year.

    Pro signings of note

    With so many teams seeing their seasons come to an end, we've also seen a lot of departures, early and otherwise. Between graduating seniors and underclassmen leaving early, we've already had a few NHL deals go through.

  • What We Learned: Why can’t Boston Bruins close deal on playoff spot?

    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.)  

    So we’re at the point in the season where the standings are starting to look worrisome for some teams and hope springs for those clubs that are on the outside looking in. The odds that you make up a point or two in the standings might not be great, but hell if they don’t feel great, and isn’t that the important thing?

    Out East, though, what happens on the playoff bubble is just about anyone’s guess. Boston seems to have no ability to control which Bruins team shows up on any given night; some games they look like juggernauts, and others they go down meekly in a shootout against Florida.

    Does there seem to be any rhyme or reason to it? Sure doesn’t. Tuukka Rask can be either great or, umm, less so (though this month it’s been the former far more often), and the offense can be a buzzsaw or a pop-gun. Which makes for a nervy final nine games here.

    Bruins centers CA/60

     

    Pre-Krejci injury

    Post-Krejci injury

    Difference

    Bergeron

    46.1

    44.1

    -2.0

    Kelly

    48.2

    7.2

  • Can Devan Dubnyk keep this up? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 days ago

    There's been a lot of attention paid to a goalie who singlehandedly revived his team's playoff chances in the last little while here, and it's not to say that Andrew Hammond doesn't deserve it.

    But if Devan Dubnyk had a name that could be turned into a lovable food convict I think we'd still be talking about the incredible things he has done and is indeed still doing for Minnesota. The good news for Dubnyk is that, like Hammond, he's an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and he's going to have a lot of leverage in contract talks with Minnesota. “Do you really want Darcy Kuemper over me?”

    So the question for Minnesota is how much they ought to fork over to Dubnyk in terms of both the number of years and the dollar value of a deal. The sad truth for the Wild is that they can probably ill afford to let him walk. 

    There was no real way to predict that he could do what he has so far — again, no one is this good — but we should have had a pretty good idea that he was going to constitute a significant upgrade over whatever other shambling disasters the Wild were putting in the crease before they acquired him. 

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