I have been absent again from the blog-waves, but thank God for that. Who could have predicted what has transpired in the NLL the past two weekends? I’m sure glad I took a few weekends off and saved myself the embarrassment! (Editor’s Note: Connor agrees. It’s been a wild ride!)
The first round of the 2011 NLL playoff are set. But there are still two games remaining. On Saturday, Rochester rolls into the the hostile confines of the HSBC to take on Buffalo, and Colorado tries to keep momentum on their side as they visit the Hive in Minnesota.
Remaining Game Previews and Predictions
The battle for Interstate 90 holds no playoff implications, but anytime Rochester and Buffalo hit the floor there is always something extra put into every battle. Whether it’s the in-state NY rivalry, the familiarity and exchange of players, or the similar seasons both teams have had – pouring it on down the stretch; this game proves to be exciting.
Last weekend, Buffalo lost an uncharacteristic game to a Boston team that has struggled for consistency all season. Buffalo, in true-grit and psychological fashion, “roughed up” the Blazers to send a message heading into the playoffs. Hopefully, for the Bandits’ sake, they have some of that fight left over to spill into their final game of the regular season against the Knighthawks.
On the K-Hawks side, they are coming off a win over the Stealth that propelled them into the third spot of Shanny’s Week 15 NLL Power Rankings. As Aaron Bold mentioned in his Podcast with Tedi Jenner, ” We’re peaking at the right time… with all due respect, [other teams] have peaked already.” Rochester looks to use their confidence against a Buffalo team that had a hiccup last weekend. Look to Buffalo to bounce back, but this will be a back-and-forth and close game. Win – Buffalo (Editor’s Note: Connor goes with Rochester. Is he back on the Khawk wagon now or what?)
The second game on Saturday has Minnesota controlling their own playoff-fate as they face a red-hot Colorado Mammoth team. If Minnesota wins, they will be hosting a playoff game. If Minnesota loses, then they will travel to Washington** where they lost an overtime thrill two weekends ago. Minnesota is coming off of a thrilling OT loss to Washington and a marginal win against the basement-dewelling Philadelphia Wings.
However, with all due respect to the Swarm, they fired 59 Shots on Goal last week against Brandon Miller and he turned away 49 of those balls. Pretty impressive for Miller! Regardless, Minnesota needs to find the net if they are going to have success against the Mammoth, who seemed to have found the right pieces to the puzzle. Since the return of Gavin Prout to Colorado at the trade deadline, the Mammoth have went 4-2 and have clinched a playoff spot that to most seemed untouchable.
Colorado’s latest win against West Division leader Calgary (who played without Dane Dobbie, who is good for 5 points per game) has cemented them as a seriously playoff contender – not just a “by the skin-of-their-teeth/lucky-to-be-there” team. Unfortunately for the Swarm, the Mammoth look to hot right now. Win – Colorado (Editor’s Note: Connor claims Colorado comes back to Earth, Patterson stands in his head, Minnesota wins.)
(Editor’s Note: Check out Chris Fox’s Rugburn Lacrosse DVD in the Lacrosse Shop with highlights from NLL seasons past to prime for the playoffs! Only $10!)
Early NLL Playoff Preview
Boston @ Buffalo
Points of interest: As mentioned above, during an uncharacteristic loss that the Bandits were served by the Blazers, Brandon Francis set the tone for the first round playoff match-up and made a statement by challanging and taking on several Boston players in their own bench!
Rochester @ Toronto
Points of interest: Sitting at the top of the league for most of the season Toronto has went 1-4 in their last 5 games. Whereas Rochester has been 4-1 in their last 5 games with one game remaining this weekend.
Colorado @ Calgary
Points of interest: Colorado won the regular season series against Calgary 2-1. First two match-ups were a 1 goal game, the last game was by a more decisive 11- 7 magian (Dobbie factor!?). Colorado 3-1 last 4 games, while Calgary is 2-2 in the last for games and 1 of each win and loss coming against the Mammoth. Currently, a very even first round match-up. Colorado plays one more game this weekend to end season.
Minnesota vs. Washington**
Points of interest: Well, you can not get any closer of a match-up than one game deciding who will host the game. And, the last game they played being decided in overtime, AND the game before that was also decided in OT!
**If Minnesota wins their final regular season game next weekend against Colorado, Minnesota will be the second seed. A loss to Colorado means Washington will be the second seed.
Lesson from this week’s post? Parity in the NLL exists and it’s a live and well!