Only two weeks left in the NLL regular season and the playoff picture is almost complete. Toronto knocked Philly out of playoff contention and punched their ticket to the big dance simultaneously.
The East Division is now all locked up – Minnesota and Philadelphia are warming up their golf games already.
The first two seeds are Edmonton and Calgary respectively. Colorado earned a big win over Edmonton this past weekend control their own destiny – one more win gets them into the playoffs or a Stealth loss.
Mammoth Win over Rush
Colorado avenged their narrow loss last week and handed Edmonton their first loss. Obviously the loss for Edmonton doesn’t matter much, they already have first seed locked up. But the win proved to be a big momentum booster for Colorado. If Colorado can win this weekend against Minnesota, they are in the playoffs. The Mammoth have played Edmonton to two close games and are really starting to hit their stride, and what a perfect time to get hot.
Edmonton finally lost their 1st game of the season…in the third to last week of the regular season. Not a bad start at all. That record will certainly stand for a long time. I hope the Edmonton fans can truly appreciate how hard every individual player and coach worked to get to that point. The Rush are primed and ready to go for the playoffs, they bounced back after their first loss and easily handled Calgary, a foe they will likely see in the second round of the playoffs. They face Calgary again this weekend but I have a feeling we might see some star players take the night off to rest.
Toronto Secure Much Needed Win
Toronto was playing Philadelphia to extend their season and won 10-9. This was a big win for Toronto as they will be playing the remainder of their season without star forward Garrett Billings. Rob Hellyer has bulked up his shoulders so that he is able to carry the weight of the team on his back. Hellyer was in a second fiddle role behind Billings, but now he has become the leader of the Rock offense. The Rock may be down but they are certainly not out.
Wings Are Out
The Wings, on the other hand, are in fact out. Philadelphia has been up and down all season, but came on strong right towards the end. Just like so many of their games all season long, they came up a few goals short. I don’t think the “American Experiment” is dead in Philadelphia. The Wings have finally found a system that works, plus they will be returning a host of American players that are sitting out due to the International Games in Denver this summer. With the addition of those players along with a few top level draft picks the Wings shouldn’t have much to fret.
Pros and Cons
The good news is Minnesota won last weekend, the bad news is they are no longer in contention for the playoffs. The good news is Minnesota’s Logan Schuss is a likely candidate for the Rookie of the Year award. The bad news is that trophy isn’t as cool as the Champion’s Cup. The good news is Minnesota has a young squad that will be an even stronger team next season.
Buffalo Beat Again
Buffalo lost yet another game! No team can afford to drop any games in this league, especially when playoffs are about to start. We know Buffalo is capable of running with the best teams in the league, but hitting a skid is the last think a team or coach wants when entering the playoffs. Luckily, if Buffalo can win against either Toronto or Rochester in their upcoming games, they will secure a home game in the first round of the playoffs – Banditland might be the biggest advantage in the playoffs. Big games lay ahead for the Bandits, let’s see if they can get back to the level they once were playing at.
Rochester On a Roll
Don’t look now but Rochester is a three-game roll. This is starting to turn into a familiar story for the Knighthawks – they get hot at the right point of the season. The better part for Rochester is that they have a veteran heavy roster who have playoff experience. I know K-Hawk nation is fully expecting Rochester to bring home yet another cup. I think Curt Styers will have to start building an expansion for the trophy case in the ILA.
Stealth Need Strong Finish
Vancouver lost to Rochester over the weekend and are now stuck between a rock and a hard place. If the Sealth lose, they are done…if Colorado wins, the Stealth are done. Not a great spot to be in if you are the Stealth. The Stealth face the Phiily Wings this weekend, which will no doubt be a tough slug-fest. Teams are capable of unbelievable feats when their backs are against the wall.
Locked up in the West
Calgary has locked up the seconded seed in the Western Division despite their loss to Edmonton this past weekend. Calgary hasn’t been able to beat their province rival Edmonton in their past few encounters. Luckily, the Riggers get another crack at Edmonton this weekend. Both of these teams have been seizing each other up for the entire season but the game that would matter most would take place in a few weeks – when Calgary could face Edmonton is the 2nd round of the playoffs. This might serve as an exciting preview for what lay ahead in the NLL playoffs.
Buffalo Bandits @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Toronto – How long can this skid last? I think the Rock are the Bandits best shot at getting the needed win.
Chris Rosenthall – Toronto over Buffalo - The Rock lost their first two matchups against the Bandits, but that was back when Buffalo was beating everybody. The wheels have fallen off for the Bandits, and Toronto just proved that they can find a way to win without Billings.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Toronto – Buffalo has to end their losing streak this weekend….right?
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Toronto - Buffalo wants it and needs to right the ship pre playoffs.
Buffalo Bandits @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Buffalo – The game the Bandits win this weekend won’t be over the Knighthawks, mark my word.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Buffalo - The Knighthawks have won seven of their last eight and they’re 7-1 at home. It doesn’t look good for the Bandits; they’ve had trouble scoring against defenses that aren’t half as good as Rochester’s.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Buffalo – Like I mentioned before, this is a bad time to be playing the Knighthawks. Rochester is playing their best lacrosse right now just like they have done for the past two seasons.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Buffalo - It’s not time for Roch to take the pedal off the metal yet.
Colorado Mammoth @ Minnesota Swarm
Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Colorado – I’m getting risky with this pick. I think Logan is on a roll and the Swarm finally are clicking, they aren’t going down without a fight.
Chris Rosenthall – Colorado over Minnesota - Minnesota’s win last week made me think about this one a little longer, but if the Mammoth can beat the Rush, they can beat the Swarm. Colorado builds off of last week’s win and clinches a playoff spot this weekend.
Ryan Connors – Colorado over Minnesota – This is a tough game to pick because Minnesota has been nipping at the heels of ever team they have been playing these past few weeks. I think Colorado and Dillon Ward have been playing a high-level of lacrosse and can handle the Swarm.
Connor Wilson – Colorado over Minnesota - Colorado NEEDS this win. That’s the difference maker.
Calgary Roughnecks @ Edmonton Rush
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Calgary – If the Mammoth can beat them so can the Roughnecks, but I just don’t see the Rush losing again.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Calgary - If I remember correctly, I’m pretty sure I picked the Roughnecks to end the streak when they met up about a month ago, and they got doubled up in their own home. Even though the streak’s over, I think they’ll still have enough motivation to get the job done.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Calgary – It will be interesting to see if all the star players suit up for this game, but Edmonton is on a mission and I don’t see them taking a step back here.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Calgary – They are both in, EDM rolls along.
Philadelphia Wings @ Vancouver Stealth
Mark Donahue – Vancouver of Philadelphia – The Wings aren’t soaring right now and the Stealth need a win, I get BC the nod.
Chris Rosenthall – Philadelphia over Vancouver - Sure, the wings have been eliminated, but they get the chance to drag somebody down with them, and who doesn’t like that? Besides that, the Wings have performed better than the Stealth lately, and beat them pretty easily in their previous meeting. It’s a bad combination for Vancouver.
Ryan Connors – Vancouver over Philadelphia – This is another game that is too close to call. Both teams are playing much better lacrosse than they were in the beginning of the season but I think Vancouver wants it more.
Connor Wilson – Vancouver over Philadelphia – Vancouver NEEDS this win, like Colorado. Philly is out.
I had another huge week in fantasy and with only two weeks left I’m gunning for the top spots. No reason to change my lineup now, they have brought me good fortune all season long and hopefully will in these last two weeks. I am very proud of my front four and all players are reaching peak performance at the right point in the season. Suitor could have a down game because he is so touch and go but he is a passionate captain and you know he will lay it all on the line.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (45-26) Chris Rosenthall (48-23)
Mark Donahue (50-21) Ryan Connors (46-25)