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Philadelphia Wings Buffalo Bandits NLL lacrosse lax 2011

NLL Lacrosse Week 2 Highlights And Opinion, Part 2

5 - Published January 17, 2011 by in International, National Lacrosse League, Pro Lacrosse

In Part 1 of my NLL Lacrosse Week 2 Highlights posts I talked about the Calgary – Colorado game as well as the Minnesota – Washington game.  I wasn’t surprised to see Calgary lose (and wouldn’t have been surprised to see them win either) but I was a little shocked at how badly Minnesota beat Washington.  The Stealth won the whole NLL shebang last year… and now they’re getting beat up by the Swarm even while Kosterer is dominating at the X?  Sure, Minnesota has some firepower and everybody has down games once in a while but for Washington to pack it in on game night during their 3rd game of the season?  I have some concerns.

I’m going to mention the Boston halftime show fiasco very quickly.  Deadspin, ILIndoor, LPG, BarStoolSports and of course, LaxAllStars.com all mentioned it in one way or another.  I hope I’m not too late!  The NLL walks a fine line between family entertainment and beer-soaked testosterone brawl-fest sometimes.  This time, the Blazers went too far in one direction and risked alienating a good portion of their fanbase.  If this was actually the idea that they came up with and have been planning for months, then I am shocked but I won’t call for anyone to get fired.  This was a comprehensive failure in judgment, but it also provides Boston with the chance to re-evaluate how they operate.  Hopefully, some good will come of this.

There were just so many other options for halftime entertainment.  Spend some cash and get a local musical act to play.  Or call Mikey Powell to play a gig!  He’s always looking for work.  Find a dog that catches frisbees!  Or lacrosse balls. Even better!  Or be cheap and get some fans to try to shoot and score on the mascot from 10 yards.  Then give them season tickets or something if they win.  Have a bunch of kids from the Blazers Box Lacrosse Academy play a quick exhibition.  Or do something to give back, like Calgary did on Saturday night, by having Special Olympics kids compete in races and soccer at the break.

The abundance of good choices and options makes Boston’s decision to go the route they did even more baffling.

Philadelphia Wings Buffalo Bandits NLL lacrosse lax 2011

Love the stripes on Philly's uniforms. At least they have that! Photo courtesy John McCabe and NLL.com

In the other games, Toronto continued to look very solid as they played team ball and took down the Rochester Knighthawks.  The Rock got solid scoring efforts from Colin Doyle (2,3), Garret Billings (2, 6), Blaine Manning (2,4) and Stephen Leblanc (3,2).  Doyle has a particularly nice underhand finish early on, which can be seen in the highlight below.  Rochester got 3 and 3 from Cody “Jammer” Jamieson and 2 and 2 from Craig Point.  The Shawns also put up some numbers as Shawn Evans notched 4 assists and Shawn Williams went 1 and 3.  Bob Watson stood tall in goal for Toronto making 53 saves.  That always helps.

The last highlight shown in the video clip may be the most telling for Rochester.  The Knighthawks take a shot, it rebounds off the boards and Joe Walters makes an awesome effort to grab the ball, control it, make the pass and keep the offense moving.  Props for that.  The ball gets spun around the top and eventually gets stuck for the goal.  All of the Rochester players go to congratulate the goal scorer except Walters, who puts his head down and slowly walks to the bench.

Maybe he’d just been checked hard and I missed it, maybe he had a headache, maybe there are a million more maybes.  But when your teammate scores and you made the pass before the pass for the hockey assist, go over and congratulate him.  These are the basics, even more basic than throwing and catching.  Support your teammates and be happy you get to play pro lax.  Then maybe you guys will win some games.  You can see the Toronto guys are happy to be out there and more or less like each other.  On the other hand, a team like Rochester has guys acting like Walters did, and there has to be some doubt.  Maybe I’m seeing something that others don’t, but watch the video… then tell me I’m wrong.

MORE Toronto – Rochester Highlights.  Even better.

Edmonton traveled to Boston and Boston kept rolling.  The game was very tight early on and only later did it look like Boston would escape with the W.  Edmonton is a good defensive team but I don’t know that they have the offensive firepower to be relevant later in the season.  Alexander-Kedoh Hill had 2 and 2 for the Rush but no one else on the team could manage more than 2 points in the game.  When your 8 forwards combine for 13 points and your Transition adds 2 points and your D only adds 3 more points, you’re in serious trouble.

Boston, on the other hand, got 4 points each from Dan Dawson, Josh Sanderson, Casey Powell, Nick Cotter and Ryan Hotaling.  Cotter had 3 goals and Powell went 2 and 2 while the rest of the guys all went 1 goal and 3 assists each.  The Boston D was on point as well as Anthony Cosmo only had to make 32 saves for the win.  Boston’s biggest hole is at Face offs right now.  Jack Reid and Ryan Hotaling each took a bunch and only did ok.  John Ortolani really should get a shot with these guys and I’d probably sit Campbell in favor of Orto.  As Matt Sawyer settles in as the Boston Head Coach I think all of this will work itself out.

Finally, Buffalo took on Philadelphia and the Wings continued to flounder offensively.  The Wings put up 3 goals in the 1st quarter and the game was tied 3-3.  Then they didn’t score a single goal until nearly two and a half minutes into the 4th quarter.  Of course, Buffalo only added 2 goals in those same two periods, so maybe scoring just wasn’t that important to these two squads.

Philly is made up of primarily Americans and with players like Brendan Mundorf, Drew Westervelt, Ryan Boyle, Athan Ianucci and Bill McGlone, they should be able to score.  They only have 7 real offensive players on the team though and are thoroughly dominated by defense, which helps them keep the score down.  This way, when they lose, at least its tight!  That being said, a number of the goals against Philly resulted from plain old lazy and bad defense.  Guys didn’t pay attention to cutters, were caught ball watching and trying to double when they shouldn’t be.  The Wings have a lot of defensive power but unless they play togethter, it won’t matter, and they will continue to lose games.

John Tavares, at 67 years old (42 actually) had 3 goals and 3 assists proving he is the Gordie Howe of lax.  He seems to just get better and better, like a fine wine.  I feel lucky to still get to watch him play!  Mark Steenhuis, Bredan Thenhaus and Tracey Kelusky each had 1 goal and 2 assists for Buffalo in the win.  Mike Thompson made 39 saves in the victory while Brandon Miller made 41 in the loss for Philadelphia.

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