Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo
Three more games in the books and we are one week closer to the playoffs.
Edmonton extended their undefeated streak over Toronto, Calgary demolished Toronto, and Rochester edged out Colorado.
Roughed and Rushed
Toronto had a rough trip to Alberta this past weekend – they came within one goal of ending Edmonton’s undefeated streak but fell short at the wire. Edmonton’s defense and goaltending continues to be the story behind their success. The Rush has a stifling defense and they do a good job clogging lanes and playing team defense. Jeremy Thompson had a dominant game on face offs, he won over 70%. Pat Merrill did not dress for Toronto and face off duties were left to Ethan O’Connor and Scott Johnson. Toronto could have use the experienced skills of Merrill out the back door last weekend.
Toronto then had to travel down the road to face Calgary, and the Rock found themselves on the wrong side of the Roughnecks high-powered offense. Calgary put up nearly 20 points behind a very smart and sleek veteran offense. Curtis Dickson went back to his old form and put up 10 points, including 6 goals. Now that Calgary’s offense is back in place they are going to be a born-again squad in the west.
Rookie Karsen Leung continues to play well, he finished 2-2 on the weekend. Calgary plays Colorado this weekend, but NEXT weekend we are treated to the Calgary/Edmonton game. Trust me when I say that both of these teams want to be the best team not only in Alberta but the NLL. Edmonton has been on top of their game, but Calgary is just getting started and both teams are looking to bring the Champions Cup back out West.
Gut Check for Colorado
Rochester picked up another win on their road to get back to the NLL finals. The Knighthawks got 2 goals out of PAUL Dawson as well as 4 points from Dan Dawson, not to mention 5 goals from Stephen Keogh. Keogh who had a little bit of a down year last year is living up to his hype this season. He plays like a wrecking ball and is a lot of fun to watch. That is the kind of edge Rochester wants gearing up for the playoffs, that along with Matt Vinc. Vinc has been playing like the MVP he is – Vinc made 33 saves last weekend to preserve the win.
The only slip-up for the Knighthawks is letting Colorado climb back in the game in the second half especially the 4th quarter letting up 4 goals. Knighthawks have to deny their opposition runs if they want to win because eventually that will come back to bite them. Rochester has a tough matchup against a hungry Philly squad.
Minnesota Swarm @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Minnesota – Although the Swarm seem to be clicking finally, I don’t have the guts to pick them. It’s always hard to not go with the Bandits.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Minnesota – Minnesota finally ended their losing streak, but let’s see if they can string a few wins together before we call it a comeback, especially since they tend to give up a ton of goals.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Minnesota – Hard to pick against Buffalo with the way they have been playing as of late.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Minnesota – Have to like the Bandits right now! Looking solid in all three phases of the game with great goaltending. Could be a rough first period after two weeks off, but the Bandits should be fine.
Philadelphia Wings @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Philly – I don’t see the Wings being successful against a powerful Hawk defense. Rochester at home is exciting, they have the nod from me.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Philly - As long as Rochester’s defense keeps holding opponents to around 10 goals, they’ve got a chance to win every game. The Knighthawks are still undefeated at home this year, and I don’t
think that changes this weekend.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Philly – This has all the makings of a trap game for Rochester. Philly can easily go on a run at the right time and win this game but I think Rochester is going to tighten up the loose screws this week.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Philly – I actually think this game will be tight and is a good upset watch. Rochester at home is tough as they are looking to lock down that playoff spot and make the magic happen for a third time in a row.
Calgary Roughnecks @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donahue – Calgary over Colorado – Well the Roughnecks are full steam ahead and the Mammoth just scrapped their entire coaching roster, I don’t see the move being a quick turnaround but a long term positive for the Colorado bench.
Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Colorado - Not sure if the coaching change gives Colorado an instant boost, but here’s what I do know: the Roughneck offense has been strong for weeks now, and the Mammoth offense has not.
Ryan Connors – Calgary over Colorado – The Mammoth wholesaled their coaching staff this week but I don’t think it will be enough to stop Calgary’s offense who is cashing in at 16 goals per game.
Connor Wilson – Calgary over Colorado – I think the Roughnecks are starting to peak. Good news for Calgary, not so much for the new coaches of Colorado.
Vancouver Stealth @ Edmonton Rush
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Vancouver – I’m going to say they can’t lose this one, the Stealth are good but the Rush are great and this shouldn’t be the game to serve up the first L.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Vancouver - They’re bound to lose sometime, I just don’t think this is the week they do it.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Vancouver – No reason why Edmonton should lose now. When you’re on a heater, you’re on a heater.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Vancouver – How do you bet against the Rush this year? Poorly is the answer. Don’t do it. Trust in Edmonton.
I guess my hot streak continues on the fantasy front. My team put up another big week with 124 points. I decided to take a few risks this week and I don’t know how I feel about it. I went with two Swarm players and two Stealth players.
Now generally my rule of thumb is not to pick players on a losing team but I went out on a limb and away from my gut. Logan Schuss has been on a little bit of a heater and it was too tempting not to pick him. Andrew Suitor can go off any game, I just hope it is this one. Tyler Digby is an easy pick but Illija Gajic can get me some points but not too many. I also took a stab with Dane Dobbie, the high-powered offense should pay dividends for me.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (28-14) Chris Rosenthall (29-13)
Mark Donahue (27-15) Ryan Connors (29-13)