Ryan Lambert

  • What's wrong with the Carolina Hurricanes? (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    Suppose there's a team that looks a lot like the Los Angeles Kings, from a statistical perspective.

    We're talking score-adjusted possession numbers that are among the best in the league; the ability to limit high-quality against them at some of the most impressive levels in recent years; maintaining elite numbers when it comes to things like shot suppression, and not even letting their opponents attempt many shots in the first place. 

    Now suppose that team, the Carolina Hurricanes, is sitting tied for 20th on the league table — 20 points in 22 games — and it's probably a little better than most people expected through 22 games.

    This from a team that finished fifth from the bottom of the league last season and didn't really make too many significant changes in the offseason? Really, all they did was get Eddie Lack, James Wisniewski and Kris Versteeg. Versteeg is first among team forwards in scoring with 14 points in 22 games, sure, but that's not anything to write home about. Wisniewski has played one game so far this year because of a torn ACL. Lack has been terrible.

    Making matters worse is that the Hurricanes power play has been atrocious.

  • Huge If True: Where exactly is Travis Hamonic going?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 1 day ago

    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week's biggest rumor.]  

    The Rumor

    There's no doubt that all of this is real.

    Unlike most NHL rumors, this started last week with a very concrete, “Travis Hamonic has asked for a trade” from Elliotte Friedman. He asked for it over the summer, and he asked for it for family-related reasons. These were all presented — rightly — as the indisputable facts of the situation.

    Within a day, Hamonic himself confirmed pretty much all details.

    So basically, Hamonic has played all season knowing he doesn't want to be with the organization, and he's done pretty well for himself. He leads the team in TOI, is a possession monster (53.1 percent against top competition, and everyone else is 47.7 percent when he's off the ice), and so on. If nothing else, he's ensuring that the Islanders get absolute max value for him, and he's 25 years old.

    Who's Going Where?

    The Implications

  • NHL All-Star shakeup, Brad Marchand, hurting NCAA hockey (Wednesday Countdown)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 3 days ago

    9. Making your product worse

    Yesterday, the Big Ten Hockey Conference announced a rule change proposal that would limit the age at which you can be a freshman playing college hockey and keep all four years of eligibility to just 20 years old.

    While that sounds reasonable on the surface, you have to understand that many college hockey players are 20- but often 21- and even 22-year old freshmen, simply because it's really hard to be impactful at this level as an 18- or 19-year old. You're playing against guys that are a lot more physically mature, so unless you're Jack Eichel or Dylan Larkin, you're not blowing anyone's doors off as a freshman.

    But if you're thinking, “Hey, I'm sure they have a really good reason for doing that!” You're right. They do. It's because the Big Ten is routinely embarrassed by almost every other conference in the country, and has been for three years.

    Yeah I'd want to push through legislation that makes it easier for me to not humiliate my school when we lose to Vermont-level programs every weekend too.

    Yup, great idea.

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Boyle has Lowell leading Hockey East, but will it last?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 4 days ago

    UMass Lowell is off to the best start in the program's history, boasting a 9-1-3 record and sitting atop Hockey East with 13 points from eight league games (5-0-3).

    Everything seems to be going pretty well for them, too, all things considered. They're scoring 2.77 goals per game, a number they'd like to see come up, but it doesn't much matter right now, because they're allowing just 1.31. Nine wins before Thanksgiving gets them a pretty healthy portion of the way toward the 21 they racked up all of last year, a season in which they ended up missing the NCAA tournament by a win (mathematically, if any one of the River Hawks' ties or losses had been a win, they'd have made the cut).

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    “I think I’m seeing the puck pretty well,” Boyle said after a tie with Merrimack in late October. “Obviously the team in front of me is doing well keeping things to the outside, and allowing me to see the puck.”

    Boyle is basically the biggest reason why.

  • Has John Tortorella actually improved Columbus Blue Jackets? (What We Learned)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 5 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.)

    It's hard to argue with the results.

    Columbus started the year 0-7, and fired Todd Richards. Now they're 8-7 under John Tortorella, but also 6-4 in their last 10. This is a team that, at long last, appears to be moving in the right direction.

    Like all Tortorella-coached teams that have any amount of success (sorry, 2013-14 Canucks), people seem to be fixating on the coach's defense-heavy, shot-blocking demands of his players as the thing that leads to all the winning. And it's impossible to say that Columbus isn't collectively getting in the way of more shots per game than they were before. In fact, the number of shots they're blocking every night has increased more than 38 percent (from 10.4 under Richards to 14.4 under Tortorella).

    And hey look at that, it didn't. Because it couldn't.


  • NHL All-Star 3-on-3 roster projections: Central Division is nuts (Trending Topics)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 8 days ago

    The new All-Star Game format is an exciting one, and it's actually a case of the NHL listening to its fans.

    The long-held opinion and correct opinion on the Game itself, from basically all corners, was that it sucked. Games ending in scores that rival defensive struggles on the football field aren't necessarily fun to watch just because they have a ton of goals in them, and a big reason for that is the intensity of these games come in at negative-193,856 on a scale of 1 to 10.

    Never mind the fact that everyone is skating off a hangover.

    The Skills Competition is fun, and it's staying. The All-Star Draft is too fun and it's gone. But the League has done more to ensure that the game will be free-flowing and intense with this format, because the winning 11-player team gets to split $1 million.

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    This seems reasonable.

    Let's start with the Pacific, which actually has a way better team than I would have expected:


  • Huge If True: Is a Matt Duchene trade plausible?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 9 days ago

    [Breaking down the plausibility of the week's biggest rumor.]

    The Rumor

    The stock-in-trade of rumor mongers across the league is the fact that they come up with things that theoretically could happen. Very few of them will actually say things like, “The Penguins are struggling, so I've heard they're looking to trade Sidney Crosby for Luca Sbisa, Bo Horvat, and a first-round pick.” That is implausible, and you would tell them so.

    Instead, they say things like, “The Penguins are struggling, so I've heard they're looking to trade Chris Kunitz for Luca Sbisa, Bo Horvat, and a third-round pick.” Everything there seems reasonable enough that you'd at least see it happening, right? Run a trade proposal through NHL 16 or whatever, see what gets approved, and you're ready to go.

    Which is why the Matt Duchene rumors this week were so interesting (and not just because it's being reported pretty much exclusively by credible sources). No one in their right minds would trade Matt Duchene because a team as bad as the Avalanche are once again struggling.

    If this road trip is the moment Colorado’s season is turning around for the better, perhaps Sakic sits tight.

    As such:

  • Going 4-on-4, calling penalties and shrinking goalie gear (Wednesday Countdown)

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 10 days ago

    (Ed. Note: The column formerly known as the Puck Daddy Power Rankings.)

    10. Move to 4-on-4

    A fun idea that will literally never happen.

    The NHLPA would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever allow this. It effectively costs the league's lower-level players jobs and money, because even if roster sizes are the same, you're rolling six two-man forward groups instead of four three-man lines. How much do you think a sixth-line forward plays per night? How much do you think that guy earns? How much job security do you think he has?

    The answer to all three: Not much.

    9. Making the nets bigger

    This is the stupidest idea. Next?

    8. Change the size of the ice

    Making the ice surface bigger will reduce the number of very expensive seats on the glass, which is a non-starter for owners. Making it smaller will result in a player getting killed because the game will become far more physical. There's not enough room out there for 5-on-5 as it is.

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    7. Make up new penalties

  • NCAA Hockey 101: Maine’s time as hockey powerhouse over?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 11 days ago

    A few weeks ago I was tempted to write about how Maine's hockey program has gone off a cliff. 

    They started the season 0-0-3, with ties against Michigan State, North Dakota, and Union. Then they lost four straight to Union, Quinnipiac, UMass, and Princeton. 

    Some of those games were winnable (the lost to UMass in overtime and Princeton isn't very good), some were very much not (Quinnipiac is laying college hockey to waste so far). The three teams they tied are actually pretty good.

    But since then, disaster. They went 0-4 against BC and Lowell — and okay, those are also games in which they shouldn't be able to reasonably stay competitive — but with just a single goal scored, and 13 allowed. And the whole “scoring one goal in four games” thing is obviously bad, but it's pretty indicative of an overall problem: The Black Bears have no offense to speak of.

    When he was with the Black Bears, they went 493-216-66 (.678) over 18 seasons, winning two national titles in 16 NCAA tournament appearances, including 11 trips to the Frozen Four. Since 2008, the Black Bears are a combined 113-129-35 (.471) with one NCAA tournament appearance. 

    7. Nebraska Omaha (idle)

  • What We Learned: Is Boston Bruins' defense good enough to contend?

    Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy 12 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 Bruins won on Saturday night, giving them their second win in three games, but also just their second since the beginning of November.

    It was a concerning trend for a team that had earned points in all of their previous seven games (6-0-1), and one they seemed at a loss to comprehend. Here's Torey Krug on Friday, bemoaning an issue cited by just about anyone in the lineup and behind the bench over this borderline-futile stretch:

    “I mean, we say the right things. It’s a group that, we still have a bunch of leaders in here that know who to win, and we say the right things, and [we] just don’t act on them. Sometimes it just feels like you don’t have the ‘it’ factor. We’ve got to make sure that we somehow capture it and move forward.”

    Yeah this is a goal but oh well Chicago won and it looked nice anyway.