Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo
The NLL season is coming down the home stretch. It is hard to believe that we have already seen 12 weeks of NLL action – maybe extending the regular season isn’t such a bad idea after all.
Bandits in Place
Buffalo was slow out of the gate in their first game back after two weeks off, but that was to be expected. You could see the Bandits settle into their grove nicely throughout the game. Mark Steenhuis (4,2) led the charge on the offensive end, and Dhane Smith (3,2) was the spark in transition out the back door. Buffalo has a tough matchup against Colorado this weekend. Colorado who at one point looked like they were going to roll over this season, have been revitalized by Casey Powell.
Young Guys Finish Last
Minnesota is in every game right up until the very end, and I have to give them credit – they go down swinging every time. It is evident with the Andrew Suitor/Steve Priolo fight. Goalie Zach Higgins put together a full game and finished with 45 saves. Hopefully, the Swarm have figured out their goaltender issue. One has to wonder whether having so many young and inexperienced players has come back to haunt them. Minnesota faces a tough battle against Toronto this weekend and if they lose again, they are another step closer to missing the playoffs.
Positive Look for Rochester
Rochester Knighthawks put another tally in the Win column behind a solid yet standard performance from Matt Vinc. Vinc doesn’t get too many shots fired his way, which is due to the tight physical Knighthawk defense in front of him. Vinc can make those easy outside last second saves all game long and that has been the recipe for success for Rochester not only this season, but the past two seasons. Stephen Keogh has continued his hot streak. He finished with six points last weekend. Another player to keep an eye on is Corey Vitarelli, he works well on offense and plays an excellent pick and roll game off the left side up top. Rochester has a tough two games next week against Toronto and Philadelphia. This will be a good test for the playoffs with the new series system implemented. They are going to have to used to playing tough games so close to each other.
Wings Fall Behind
Philadelphia is in the same boat as Minnesota – they are a good team but lose most of their games. The Wings are in every game but can’t find a way to win. Kyle Buchanan has cooled off recently and the offense isn’t putting up the numbers they once were. When all members of the Wings offense are healthy and playing, they can run with anyone. It just has been a tough one game after another for the Wings. They are able to compete every game and it will be interesting to see what happens in the off season when the USA Team members return to the squad.
One More Toward Undefeated
Edmonton managed to extend their undefeated record, but only by the slimmest of margins. Edmonton used a 3 goal fourth quarter to overtake Vancouver and secure their win. Edmonton is playing with a great amount of resiliency – whatever the situation is presented; Edmonton just takes the game one play at a time. Rookie Riley Lowen was held scoreless, but Robert Church finished with a hat trick. The way the Rush have been playing, I think they have a good chance to go undefeated. However, it is nearly impossible to go undefeated in lacrosse, especially the NLL. The Rush have a tough matchup next week against Calgary, and the Riggers could be the team to put an end to the Rush.
Picking Up in BC
Vancouver looked much improved and were able to battle toe to toe against Edmonton all game long. They unfortunately found themselves on the losing side last week but they took a huge step in the right direction. Jamie Lincoln was a great addition for Vancouver squad, he finished with 2 points. He will be a big boost for the Stealth offense. The Stealth have been streaky on offense and a little consistency can go a long way in the NLL.
Hint: Watch that video, it’s awesome!
The Gloves Are Off
Colorado and Calgary gave us a game for the ages this past weekend. Sean Pollock notched a hat trick including the game winner. The usual game pieces were involved for Colorado: Powell, Grant Jr., and Westervelt. The story this game was the hot goaltending for Calgary with Mike Poulin – he finished with 44 saves. Colorado had enough gas in the tank to give the Calgary defense all they could handle, but it was their defense that earned the Roughnecks the win. Goalie Dillion Ward had another great game, he finished with 35 saves. If Ward can elevate his consistency, Colorado is in good shape – they have the offense firepower they just have to keep the ball out of their own net. All of a sudden Colorado is back in the hunt in the West and can make a push towards playoffs. Colorado has come back from the brink of a disastrous season to making a run towards the playoffs.
Edmonton Rush @ Calgary Roughnecks
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Calgary – If the Rusha re going to lose a game, it’s probably going to be this one. I just don’t have the manhood to pick against them. Calgary is hot and the Rush haven;t dominated as much lately, but I believe the streak will live on.
Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Edmonton - Here’s what I don’t love about the Rush right now: They’ve been winning, of course, but their offensive production (except against the Swarm) has been pretty low. Also, They’ve eeked out back-to-back one-goal wins – they have to slip up at some point, right? Calgary’s 5-1 (with three straight wins) at home, and their offense has put up big numbers this season. I’m thinking the streak could end this weekend.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Calgary – The Rush have a daunting challenge ahead of them, but I think they can get the job done.
Connor Wilson – Calgary over Edmonton – they can’t REALLY go undefeated all season…can they? Risky pick right here!
Rochester Knighthawks @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Toronto over Rochester – I’m getting risky here, I think the scoring power is impressive on both sides, but I’m giving the look to the Rock in the AIC.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Toronto - Toronto just hasn’t been what I thought they would this season, and when these two met up a month ago, the Knighthawks almost doubled them up. I’m guessing it’ll be closer this time, but with a similar result.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Toronto – Not that far of a trip for most of the Rochester players and the K Hawk offense has finally hit their stride.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Toronto – this is a huge game and Toronto could close the gap.
Colorado Mammoth @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Colorado – I’d say this is a no brainer, but the new coaching staff and big OT win rekindled a fire in the Colorado locker room. I bet this will be closer than most expect.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Colorado - Colorado’s coming off of that huge OT win last week, but I still have to go with Buffalo; the Bandits have just been too consistent this season on both sides of the ball.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Colorado – Colorado had a huge win last week, but I think they come up short against a Buffalo squad that is on a mission.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Colorado – Is this only the second out of division game Buffalo is playing this year? Yup. This could be the game of the weekend!
Rochester Knighthawks @ Philadelphia Wings
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Philadelphia – Matt Vinc will gobble everything up and Stephen Keogh will go to town, I said it.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Philadelphia - It’s been very difficult to score against Rochester this season, and the Wings haven’t been doing much of that lately as is (except against the Swarm). Philly’s struggles continue for at least one more week.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Philadelphia – The Wings have every opportunity to take this game from the Knighthawks, but they need to have their best performance of the season, and I just don’t see it happening.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Philadelphia – I like Rochester to score some transition goals, but I’ll take Roch by 2.
Toronto Rock @ Minnesota Swarm
Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Toronto – Another gutsy pick, I think the Swarm take this one at home. It’s game 2 of the weekend for Toronto and it’s about time for the Swarm to get it together.
Chris Rosenthall – Toronto over Minnesota - Even though they’re the ones who don’t have a game the day before, I’m just going to keep betting against the Swarm. It’s only hurt me once so far; I like those odds.
Ryan Connors – Toronto over Minnesota – I believe the Rock have too much offense for the Swarm. The Swarm are knocking but I don’t think they can pull this one out.
Connor Wilson – Toronto over Minnesota – The Swarm are looking improved. Should be a tough game for the Rock.
My fantasy team took a little bit of a dip last week. I only managed to score 99 points and some of my gambles didn’t pay off, especially Andrew Suitor. I decided to switch up my transition players, and hopefully they can give me some of the points I was missing. I swapped in Jordan Hall who had a big week last week and I am hoping he can repeat again.
Correct Picks Running Tally
Connor Wilson (31-15) Chris Rosenthall (32-14)
Mark Donahue (30-16) Ryan Connors (32-14)