The NLL was absent from the LAS airwaves last week. Not because we require a minimum of three games for a weekly preview. I wish that were the case. Unfortunately, I came down with a bad case of the Canadian Chills. Fortunately enough, after a good hibernation session, comfort delivery food ordered by my girlfriend, who is over 3000 miles away (everyone should date a New Hampshire girl), I made a full recovery. I even managed to grow a full beard in three days. Anyway… on to the blogging!
Combining last week’s and this week’s action, we see a collective three games on the docket. Last week we saw Boston vs. Buffalo and Calgary vs. Washington all collide.
Boston vs. Buffalo (I had Buffalo!) (Editor’s Note: Connor would have picked Boston. But he didn’t. phew)
Photos Courtesy NLL.com and Larry Palumbo. As always, he captures some killer shots!
With NLL attendance a hot topic among fan forums and NHL attendance around the Sun Belt a burning question amongst discussion panels, you have to appreciate what the Buffalo Bandits have built at the HSBC Arena.16,347 strong came out to support the Bandits last Saturday. As always, the product on the floor did not disappoint.
This match-up was a battle for second overall in the east, behind the surging Toronto Rock (who are in the middle of an almost three week layoff). Any game with Josh Sanderson, Dan Dawson, Ryan Powell, and Casey Powell is sure to be a great game. Amazingly enough, those players were all featured on the same Boston roster. Buffalo’s roster was not lacking in fire-power either: Tracey Kelusky, Mark Steenhuis, and John Tavares, who all played together this summer in Peterborough and won a Mann Cup, proved to be to much for the Blazers.
Buffalo won the game 12-10. And, this is what I think the difference maker was in this game: the star players in Buffalo are comfortable with one another and are playing in their respective roles. I think Boston is on the right track. But, they still look “too unselfish”. That seems to be absurd to say, but they look like they are trying to share the ball too much. Still, I could think of a lot of worse problems to have. On the other hand, Buffalo went through those growing pains in the summer with the Peterborough Lakers. Although that team also featured John Grant Jr. and both Evans brothers. Regardless, this was a great game that came down to the 4th quarter and featured 99 shots!
Calgary vs. Washington (I had Calgary! What do ya know I was perfect last weekend!) (Editor’s Note: yah, Calgary.)
At the time, this game featured the top two teams in the West. Calgary led the pack and Washington was tied for second with Minnesota. Three strong quarters by the Roughnecks and 4 goals 5 assists from Jeff Shattler and another 5 goals by Dane Dobbie proved to be too much for the defending champions last weekend, as Calgary defeated Washington 17-13.
Shattler’s performance was so dominating that experts are throwing him into the mix during MVP talks. This high-scoring game provided a lot of action, penalties, fights, and 105 shots. Most notably, this game saw the return of NLL All-Star Jeff Zywicki, who has been missing from action since the second week of the season. Zywicki tallied an assist, 3 loose balls, and recorded 6 shots, all of which hit the goal. It was also announced this week that Zywicki will be playing for the New Westminster Salmonbellies this summer in the WLA.
This week’s only match-up features “The Battle of Alberta”: Edmonton vs. Calgary
The NLL trade deadline came and gone this past week. Calgary was relatively quite signing Mark “The Scherminator” Scherman to the Practice Player List. Edmonton moved one of its big name players. The Rush traded Gavin Prout to the Colorado Mammoth in exchange for Mike McClellan and a first round selection in the 2011 Entry Draft. Prout was initially traded to the Rush from Colorado… so essential this is a home coming for Gavin.
So, with a few roster changes, Edmonton rolls into Calgary looking to stay in playoff position above the very same team they dealt Prout; the Colorado Mammoth. Edmonton will have a tall order stacked in front of them going up against the hottest team in the West. Despite its problems financially, Calgary’s bench boss (@RiggerCoach) has his team focused and determined to represent the West in the Champions Cup. Some experts considered Calgary to be in a rebuilding year.
Despite what the experts have said, this team looks like they are peeking at the right time. Jeff Shattler has a lot to do with the team’s success. He is having a career year 21 goals 29 assist. Edmonton has yet to find an identity this season. They has lost several games by one goal, but eventually those loses do more harm than good throughout a season. Calgary will continue to roll in the west – Calgary over Edmonton for the Win.
(Editor’s Note: Connor concurs. Calgary with the Dubya. Connor is now 29-15 on the season with his picks.)