EN: Jeff Matheson is back to preview another great week of NLL action. with only 9 teams in the league, the talent level is at an all-time high, and teams that were struggling are now looking like favorites. If there has been one NLL season to watch in recent years, 2012 just might it!
One thing we have figured out is that predicting NLL outcomes is pretty much like betting on sports, it’s tough. The first month of NLL action has been as the weather and we continually seem to be missing picks, huge. Philadelphia and Colorado, two teams with lousy seasons last year, find themselves atop the NLL rankings as of February. The two teams who battled for the Champions Cup, Washington and Toronto, have gotten off to slow starts, and while Toronto’s two wins last week pulled them to .500, Washington is in dead last at 0-3.
Saturday, February 4th, 2012:
Toronto Rock @ Philadelphia Wings – 7:00 PM – Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Toronto comes into Philadelphia off a strong weekend to meet the renovated, new-look Wings. What worries me right now about Toronto is, assuming Doyle isn’t playing, they are missing him and Blaine Manning. I don’t like the success of the team without these two, however last weekend did prove otherwise. Garrett Billings with 20 points in four games and Josh Sanderson’s solid play helped to fill the void of their missing teammates, however, like sticking your size 9 foot into a size 11 shoe, it only works for so long.
Philadelphia has turned the ship around in one season adding Merrill, Dawson, and certified beautician: Kevin Crowley. These three have bolstered a lineup that is leading their conference and only getting better in every outing. Drew Westervelt leads the team with 10 goals while Dan Dawson leads the overall points charge with 19 in three games.
I will pick Philly to beat Toronto due to injuries.
Washington Stealth @ Buffalo Bandits – 7:30 PM – First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY
Washington is off to a horrible start and it has everything to do with offensive production. Rhys Duch is leading the team in points, and through three games he only has 12. Duch and Lewis Ratcliff have combined for eight goals in three games; a total that would be fine in hockey, but we’re talking about Lacrosse here boys. The season lies on those two players who need to start producing fast.
Buffalo came out hot at the start but have more recently lost meetings to Philadelphia and Minnesota. They didn’t just lose to Minnesota either, the Swarm had an answer for every offensive charge and fight, and even provided them with body wash, and ironed their suits for them during the half time. John Tavares has 23 points in four games followed by Luke Wiles with 16 of his own. They could benefit from a few more ginos from guys like Tracey Kelusky, and better overall defensive efforts.
I like Buffalo in this one, but I am going to pick Washington because they are desperate and desperate teams win games.
Minnesota Swarm @ Rochester Knighthawks - 7:30 PM – Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY
Minnesota swarmed on Buffalo so hard last weekend I had to pull out my epipen. Their offense was scoring in bunches, or maybe hives would be more appropriate. Ryan Benesch is leading the team with six ginos and teammate Callum Crawford leads in points with 18. The Swarm’s offense was bee-autiful last week, they were going for the honey all game and stung the Bandits early and often. I am curious to see if they can match the same effort from last weekend.
Rochester had a rough weekend losing both outings but have managed to put forward consistent efforts in every game this season. Cody Jamieson is leading the team in ginos, apples, and overall points with 13, 14, and 27 total. He was fantastic in the game against Toronto and should continue to lead this team.
I am going to pick Rochester in this one fellas.
Edmonton Rush @ Colorado Mammoth – 9:00 PM – Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Edmonton, a team I pegged as an eventual basement occupier proved me wrong last week beating Washington 16-5. The offense is being led by Zack Greer’s six goals and Shawn Williams’ 15 points through two games. Aaron Bold’s 9 GAA is solid as well, providing his team with the opportunity to win, provided they’re able to score at least ten goals.
John Grant Jr. is off to a pretty ridiculous start, in four games JGJR has 16 ginos, 21 apples, 37 points, and 49 SOG. The consistent production he has shown this season, if it holds up, could be record breaking. Gavin Prout and Adam Jones are also contributing on a nightly basis with 22 points apiece. Their goaltending could be better, but as long as JGJR continues to bury on this pace, Chris Fox could play in net and win every night.
I will take Coloradoto win this win and wish the Rush luck checking John Grant.