Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo
The Unstoppable Rush
Edmonton didn’t just beat Buffalo, they man-handled them. What a complete display of dominance we had the opportunity to witness, as the Rush rolled to 11-0. Led by the dynamic offense of Mark Matthews (1,6) and Cory Conway (1,7). It was the defense that was the bright spot once again, limiting Buffalo to just 5 goals. Buffalo struggled and the Rush breezed to another victory, could this be the first time in NLL history of an undefeated season? We shall see. Edmonton faces the Rochester Knighthawks this weekend and it is obvious that neither team is planning on losing. Rochester currently holds the record for most wins in a row, and Edmonton can tie that record with a win this weekend… over Rochester.
Swarm Catch a Break
It only got worse for Buffalo as the weekend wore on. Buffalo dropped their 2nd game to the Minnesota Swarm, who earned only their 3rd win of the season. Both John Tavares and Mark Steenhuis were held scoreless in their game against the Swarm. No one can take a day off in this league without a devastating price to pay, especially if the team relies on those players so heavily like Tavares and Steenhuis. Even though Buffalo dropped two games this past weekend they sit comfortably in 2nd place in the East, safely ahead of Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Minnesota managed to pick up their 3rd win of the season. It might be a case of too little too late for the Swarm, but it is still nice to get a win for the fans. Like I mentioned before, Minnesota has a fresh young team, but lack the experience that is needed in this league. They face Calgary this weekend and if they can string two wins together, they are looking good to end the season strong. Logan Schuss is starting to develop into the consistent scorer like everyone thought, it just took a few weeks to get there. Schuss has a bright future as a NLL star.
Calgary Still Moving
Calgary bounced back from their loss that week and beat the Vancouver Stealth, a win the Roughnecks were suppose to have this win. They jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back. Curtis Dickson continues his scoring hot streak and Calgary could make a huge splash in the playoffs. They have the squad to do it, but they need to be able win tough and close games. Until then, they will continue to lose to the Edmontons and Rochesters of the league. The currently sit in 2nd place in the west, but Colorado is hot on their heels. Calgary plays Minnesota this weekend and should be another easy win game, but Minnesota has been clamoring back from the basement of the league.
Woes in Vancouver
Vancouver dropped yet another game, and they are in the same situation as Minnesota. They stumbled out of the gate against Calgary, but Matt Roik stepped in to make 30 saves but it was too late. Vancouver is another one of those teams that need to learn how to win tough/close games. The Stealth face a tough Buffalo team coming off of two straight losses. This is their opportunity to steal a much-needed win from a good team.
Philadelphia managed to earn a victory this week, they beat the Toronto Rock in a back and forth battle. Not a shocking win by any means, Philadelphia has been fighting in close games all season long. Kevin Crowley exploded for 6 goals and 3 assists. The Wings are towards the bottom of the East but are still chugging along trying to get wins and move up in the East. Last weekends win over Toronto closed the gap just a little bit more. They face Colorado this weekend.
Rock Chopped By Philly
Toronto dropped a tough game to Philadelphia but are still well in the hunt in the East. Toronto is still in the hunt in the East, and they are in a good spot to make the playoffs. Garrett Billings is one of the best offensive weapons in the league. Rob Hellyer is on a scoring tear and has found his groove in the Rock offense. The Rock defense is no slouch either, Nick Rose is a solid goaltender and has the ability to play at championship caliber. The Rock have the pleasure of playing Edmonton this weekend, they have all the elements necessary to put an end to the Rush. Toronto could use this win, it will be a good test for the playoffs.
Edmonton Rush @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Rochester – If a team is going to break the Rush, it’s the Knighthawks. But I still have the feeling this is the dream season for EDM.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Rochester - This one’s tricky. The last time these two met, the Rush won by only a goal. Does home team advantage count for enough to pick the Knighthawks? Then again, the Rush defense put on an absolute clinic last week against Buffalo. I’m picking the Rush: they’re just really really good.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Edmonton – I haven’t picked against Edmonton is a long time and I honestly shouldn’t. They are playing at the top of their game, but I have a feeling Rochester is going to pull this one out.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Rochester – I keep picking against Edmonton, and it keeps stinging me where it hurts. Rush win, right?
Minnesota Swarm @ Calgary Roughnecks
Mark Donahue – Calgary over Minnesota – The Swarm got a nice wins for the fans last week but the Roughnecks are getting the wins they need to assure me I’m making the right pick.
Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Minnesota - Big win for the Swarm last week, but I’m still not entirely convinced. If they don’t have an answer for Geoff Snider (who was a monster in their last matchup), Minnesota could be in trouble.
Ryan Connors – Calgary over Minnesota – Even thought Minnesota got a big win last week, I think Calgary’s offense is too much for the young Swarm.
Connor Wilson – Minnesota over Calgary – The Swarm are playing loose right now, and not feeling the pressure. Calgary has a team breathing down their necks. I’ll take the Swarm? Yeah, I guess so.
Philadelphia Wings @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donahue – Colorado over Philadelphia – From what I heard, Jones is back. If CP, JGJ, DWesty and Jones show up it should be the show to watch this weekend!
Chris Rosenthall – Colorado over Philadelphia -Adam Jones is back, Casey Powell is back, and Colorado’s new coaching staff has had two weeks off to get things sorted out. Those elements together could mean they start putting up goals again.
Ryan Connors – Colorado over Philadelphia – Colorado is in do-or-die time from here on out. They are gearing up for playoffs and Adam Jones should be back any day now.
Connor Wilson – Philadelphia over Colorado – Philly has been gelling a bit better as the season has worn on. They are back in it in the East with a win here, and I actually like their chances.
Buffalo Bandits @ Vancouver Stealth
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Vancouver – Both teams have surprised me in different ways this season, the Bandits really need to force a high tempo game and increase their scoring. If not, the Stealth could get a win at home.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Vancouver - The Buffalo offense hasn’t exactly been dominant this season, but I still like them better than the Stealth. Even though they haven’t been as successful on the road, I think the Bandits turn it around this weekend.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Vancouver – The Buffalo Bandits will bounce back in their battle against the Stealth.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Vancouver – The Stealth are dealing with a lot of injuries, and while this is a winnable game, I’ll take Buffalo.
Edmonton Rush @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Toronto – Still not picking against the Rush, no matter what the Rock do. 2014 is the year of the Rush.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Toronto -Playing at home (especially against a squad playing their second game of the weekend) should help the Rock in theory, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. Toronto has been hot & cold this season, Edmonton has been on another level.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Toronto - Edmonton is the best team in the league. I don’t think Toronto can run with Edmonton all game long. Too much transition.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Toronoto – With this pick Edmonton would set the record for consecutive wins, and the best start by far in NLL history. Why not?
This past weekend was my highest-scoring fantasy weekend – I ended up with 130 points. I am happy with my front 4, they are solid contributors for their respective teams and I am glad I have them all at once. Rob Hellyer is putting on a scoring clinic and I personally hope he continues. Jordan Hall costs me a pretty penny but I am hoping he explodes for another 7 point game soon – then it will be worth it.
I switched out Jesse Gamble for Joe Walters this week and that was my only change. Joe Walters is a lefty forward; he is listed as transition but mostly plays out of the front door. This about some of the other players he gets to work with, Powless and Jamieson.
That side of the field is going to produce points; I just hope it happens to be when he is on the floor.
Correct Picks Running Tally
Connor Wilson (36-19) Chris Rosenthall (38-17)
Mark Donahue (37-18) Ryan Connors (39-16)