Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo
Make Or Break in Philly
The Philadelphia Wings had the opportunity to grease a big win over the Calgary Roughnecks last weekend, but relapsed and let up 6 4th quarter goals. That win would have a huge win for the Wings but they just couldn’t pull the rabbit out of the hat. Kyle Buchanan has lost his scoring touch and with his dry spell, the rest of the Wings offense has faltered.
Not to say the Wings offense was completely worthless, but when you’re in a scoring drought and facing Mike Poulin when he is on the top of his game, you’re going to have a bad time. The Wings are still in the playoff race but if they lose this weekend to Toronto, they are done. It is do-or-die times for the Wings.
Calgary Full Steam Ahead
Calgary came away with two solid wins this weekend, over Philly and Buffalo. Calgary has locked up a playoff spot and has guaranteed at least one home playoff game. The biggest weapon Calgary has is what I like to call the spread offense – they have 6 very deadly players on offense, from Shattler to Evans. If you want to add a little seasoning to the Roughnecks’ offense, it’s their transition game. Snider can get it out quick on the faceoffs and into the offensive end. Rookie Karsen Leung had a good transition game against Philly, he finished with 1 goal 3 assists and 10 loosies.
Tough Times in Buffalo
It is finally official – Buffalo is in a slump. They dropped a close decision to Calgary last weekend. Buffalo had the game all but wrapped up until Calgary scored 7 4th quarter goals. Anthony Cosmo has been the backbone to the Bandits all season long, but has been shaky lately. Buffalo has locked up a spot in the playoffs, but Cosmo will need to bring his A game for the playoffs.
John Tavares who was held scoreless last weekend scored his 800th goal this past weekend. If Buffalo wins this weekend or Toronto loses, they have secured a home playoff game.
Back to Back Close Ones for Rochester
Rochester and Minnesota had a nice double-date this weekend. They played each other back to back games over the weekend. Rochester earned two close victories and as I predicted, Minnesota didn’t go down without a fight. The first contest needed extra time to sort out who would earn the win, and it was Johnny Powless vaulting the Knighthawks to victory. Powless finished with 3 goals and Keogh finished with 6 – the pair have really turned it up recently and have found their scoring touch. The next night back in Blue Cross Arena, Powless netted 5 goals and Keogh scored 2 goals with 6 helpers.
Rochester is in first place in the East and have set their game to cruise control. Not making to the NLL finals will be a huge disappointment for K-Hawk nation.
Swarm Not Out
Minnesota on the other hand, while officially not eliminated from the playoffs, are fighting an uphill battle. If Minnesota loses this weekend, they are done – if Toronto wins, Minnesota is done. There aren’t a whole lot of bright spots in Minnesota’s future this season. However, Minnesota can look forward to next season when their entire roster is one year older and have that much more experience. The Swarm have plenty of young talent that just needs to mature into NLL stars, give it time and Minnesota will be a contender every season. With that being said, Minnesota is playing great lacrosse and they play Buffalo who happens to be playing bad lacrosse. So it is not out of the realm of possibilities for Minnesota to live to fight another day…crazier things have happened.
Rush On Track For Greatness
Well I hope the Edmonton fans can appreciate what their Rush are doing. It is incredible to watch them play every week and approach every game with the same hungry mentality. I believe the Rush’s offense is overshadowed by the neighbors the Roughnecks. Everyone talks about the great scorers that Calgary has, but Edmonton has a host of talented sorcerers of their own that work extremely hard for each other. Their defense and goaltending continue to set the tone in the game. Kyle Rubisch broke his own forced turnover records and had 8 FT’s in the game. It is the attitude of the Rush that is the ultimate difference-maker. The Rush managed to edge out Colorado but turn right around to face them again this weekend, which is likely to be another great game.
Unclear in Colorado
Colorado couldn’t be the ones to drop the Rush and they came so close. Casey Powell has been placed on the Short Term Hold-Out List, which means we likely won’t be seeing much of CP until playoffs. That is, if Colorado makes the playoffs. As of now, the Mammoth are in contention but they play Edmonton this weekend, Minnesota the following, and the Wings after that – three games that all easily can go in the ‘L’ column for Colorado. The good news is that Adam Jones is back and healthy – trade one star for another. He only scored 1 goal but set up 4 others.
It is the same story week after week for the Mammoth, their offense is set but they need to work on defense and transition. They are a very capable team and have all the makings for a special playoff concoction.
Trouble for Toronto
I hate to see a player go down with a knee injury – they are always the worst. I truly feel sorry for Garrett Billings after he confirmed he has a torn ACL. Billings was on pace to break John Grant Junior’s single season scoring record, but it looks as if that record will live on for another season. Critics are saying that Toronto doesn’t have much to worry about with Billings out – that they still have a potent offense. This is true, however, Billings was the catalyst of that offense and was the go to guy when the Rock needed a spark. No one could cause more havoc in the offense end than Billings. Everything from his overhand outside shot to his fake shot pass, Billings got it done.
The Rock are going to be a completely different team without him. Toronto can clinch a playoff spot with a win this weekend against Philadelphia, but the Wings have their back against the wall and are going to give it everything they have. The road to hoist the Champions’ Cup just got tougher.
Stealth Need Strong Finish
Vancouver got in the hole early against Toronto and couldn’t climb their way out. The Stealth remain in playoff contention but have to earn a few wins to make it possible. They play: Rochester, Philly, Edmonton, and Calgary in the remaining weeks – not an easy task. Vancouver can gain some momentum and maybe some of the teams that have playoffs locked will rest their stars which will give Vancouver a good opportunity to grease a few wins. It is all coming down to the wire in the last few weeks. This is good for lacrosse because teams and fans are still invested, which in turn will give us some great lacrosse to watch until the end.
Edmonton Rush @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Colorado – The Mammoth will not be the team to top the Rush even though they were so close. Now without CP22, they might be hurting.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Colorado - Colorado almost ended the streak last weekend in Edmonton, so if you want to bet on them finishing the job this time, I can see where you’re coming from. Meanwhile, I’m sticking with the Rush. They’re very good.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Colorado – Colorado came so close last weekend but they don’t have the power to stop the Rush.
Connor Wilson – Colorado over Edmonton – Colorado has a lot to play for, and Edmonton is just playing for pride. I’ll take the Mammoth for two reasons: 1) I like their recent play. 2) I’m way behind in this picking contest. I either make up room here with a brilliant pick or concede!
Philadelphia Wings @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Toronto over Philadelphia – This is a tough one, I don’t like the Rock without Doyle but I think they will edge out Philly.
Chris Rosenthall – Philadelphia over Toronto – Not only has Toronto’s home field advantage dissolved as the season has gone on, but this is their first game without Garrett Billings. I’m thinking it could take a while for the Rock find an answer for his absence.
Ryan Connors – Philadelphia over Toronto – This might be another bad pick, but I think deep down I want to see Philly succeed so this is a heart pick.
Connor Wilson – Philadelphia over Toronto – The Billings loss hurts, and Philly would love this win so they can flip places with the Rock in the East.
Vancouver Stealth @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Vancouver – Roc gets it together in crunch time, I see the Hawks moving full speed ahead in to the playoffs.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Vancouver - Vancouver’s put up double digits just once in their last five games. The Knighthawks won’t make things any easier for them, especially in Rochester.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Vancouver – This is the exact time of the season that you do NOT want to be playing the Knighthawks.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Vancouver – Angus Goodleaf could earn another start, but it doesn’t matter. Roch for the win!
Buffalo Bandits @ Minnesota Swarm
Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Buffalo – The Bandits can’t break the streak, and after last weekend, the Swarm are dying for a win to get closer to the Cup.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Minnesota - The last time these two met up, my prediction was wrong and the Swarm won. If they win again, well, I’ll just be wrong again, I’m okay with that. Although I will say this: Minnesota apparently wins once a month, no more, no less, so they’re due. Still, I’m not betting on them.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Minnesota – Is this the week Buffalo regains its composure. I think it is.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Minnesota – Buffalo needs to get back on the right track and stop this losing skid now. They take a tight one over Minny.
Edmonton Rush @ Calgary Roughnecks
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Calgary – If EDM loses a regular season game, it’s this one. It’s a heated battle in Alberta, I see the Rush toughening up and finishing strong.
Chris Rosenthall – If you combined the scores from their first two meetings this season, Edmonton’s winning 30-15. Even if the Mammoth game and travel on Friday night take a toll on the Rush, it still may not be enough for Calgary to pull it off.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Calgary – Edmonton doesn’t want to lose and they especially don’t want to lose to Calgary.
Connor Wilson – Calgary over Edmonton – Calgary would love this win, as it would give them confidence in the playoffs, and they are looking hot right now. I love how they played against Buffalo last week. I’ll take Calgary? Did I just go against the Rush twice? Who am I, Mark Powers?
I bounced back big time from my season lost last week to score 125 points this week. My 4 forwards who all had a down week last week, bounced back tremedlousy for huge games. Rob Hellyer had the biggest one of all. He finished with 12 game points which translated to monster numbers for me.
My fear is without Garrett Billings, Hellyer will see a dip in his production but let’s hope not. I thought about making a few transfers, but I couldn’t find a player that I wanted to remove from my team. Yes, I know that is a cocky statement, but I know the squad I have on the floor is very capable of moving me up the overall rankings.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (43-23) Chris Rosenthall (47-19)
Mark Donahue (46-20) Ryan Connors (44-22)