NLL Week 4 Preview & Predictions

Rochester Vs Minnesota NLL scrimmage

Seven games went down in the books this past weekend and the results shook up the standings and changed my opinions on certain teams. Let’s start off with Buffalo, then we’ll look at the rest of the teams, and make predictions for this weekend!

The Buffalo Bandits shocked the lacrosse world… well maybe not the world, but the Bandits shocked me to say the least. I thought for sure Toronto would roll over Buffalo, and for a little while it looked as if they might. Buffalo stormed back and put up 10 goals in the second half to take the W. I thought Toronto outplayed Buffalo despite what the score sheet depicted. I will give credit to the Bandits; they never gave up and scraped their way back into the game.

Dhane Smith is starting to come into his own and is a terror through the middle. Jay Thorimbert did well to earn Buffalo extra possessions at the faceoff dot. The real story was Anthony Cosmo coming up huge in the net for Buffalo, and squashing any attempts Toronto made at a comeback. I would make some silly John Tavares being old joke here, but the ageless wonder scored the game winner and has his team on the right track. In the first game of the weekend, I thought Tavares was getting pushed around too easily and made bad decisions with the ball. In his second game against Philly, he looked much better and was a force on the offensive end. All that and he managed to squeak in the game winner in overtime. However, the question still remains: how will Tavares’ body hold up throughout the season and playoffs?

Same story, different day for the Colorado Mammoth. Belanger was pulled and replaced by rookie Dillion Ward…again. Ward came in and played excellent, but the Mammoth were still defeated by Calgary. Dane Dobbie and Jeff Shattler had monster days for Calgary. We know Calgary has a powerful offense but I question their defense at times. They managed to keep Colorado at bay this past weekend. The Mammoth decided to shake things up and added Athan Iannucci to the roster. That is another deadly offensive weapon Colorado has added. The question still remains in net for Colorado, who is going to start this weekend? At this point it has to be Ward, right?

There weren’t too many surprises in the Rochester Knighthawks and Philly Wings game. Having Craig Point back in the lineup for Rochester helped, as he managed to score 3 goals. Dan Dawson continues to lead on offense and finished with 6 points. Rochester’s defense kept Philly to 9 goals. Rochester is looking like a strong contender for a 3-peat right now.

Philadelphia is coming along well, but couldn’t find a way to beat a good Rochester team. Crowley was held scoreless and Merrill was held pointless. Throughout the season Philadelphia will get better. I believe they finally have the right mix of personnel to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

Colorado was demolished by the Edmonton Rush in their second game of the weekend. John Grant Jr. was held scoreless and you could see the frustration starting to show in his body language. Fourteen shots and most of them came at ill-advised times. Edmonton was firing on all cylinders. Mark Matthews proved that he is not going to be caught in the sophomore slump. Zack Greer is setting himself of to have another big year, if not his best one yet, and rookie Riley Lowen is playing with confidence – that can be a tremendous boost for his game.

The Minnesota Swarm are continuing to struggle in the offensive zone. Scratch that, they are continuing to struggle to score despite getting their looks and shots. Fifty shots made it on net, but only five went in. Once they click, Minnesota is going to be dangerous. They have so many offensive weapons and no team can keep them at bay for long.

Friday Games:

Calgary Roughnecks @ Edmonton Rush

Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Calgary:  Calgary is a very tough team, but I think the Rush can squeak out a W at home. The Rush forwards need to be productive and on the same page this week.

Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Calgary:  Even though Geoff Snider put on an absolute clinic when he faced Jeremy Thompson last season, Edmonton’s offense and defense have both been pretty impressive thus far. I expect that to continue.

Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Calgary:  We know Edmonton’s defense is good…but how good is Calgary’s?  Calgary’s D will get a good test this weekend.

Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Calgary:  Rush are looking really good early.

Colorado Mammoth @ Vancouver Stealth

Mark Donahue – Vancouver over Colorado: Unfortunately the Mammoth have fallen to the bottom, I don’t see them digging themselves out of their hole when they are playing a team like the Stealth at home. The Stealth showed up big at home against the Swarm, I expect them to come out swinging again.

Chris Rosenthall – Colorado over Vancouver:  Oh, this is a tricky one. Does Athan Iannucci come back on a crazy payback mission? Is he going to be in game shape? It feels like I’m supposed to pick Colorado, so Colorado it is. But after last weekend, I’m not feeling great about it.

Ryan Connors – Colorado over Vancouver:  Swarm are good, and Colorado struggle through the season last year. I think they start Ward in net, and they play a full game and get the win.

Connor Wilson – Vancouver over Colorado:  CO surprises me. I really thought they’d be better. Watch, now they’ll win.

Saturday Games:

Minnesota Swarm @ Philadelphia Wings

Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Philly:  I think the Swarm will take both the Home and Away games. Philly looked better against Buffalo but took a rough loss. I’m not saying Philly can’t get the W, but I think it’s about time that we see a lot of production from the Swarm rookies. Let’s see if Schuss can get open this game and create more havoc.

Chris Rosenthall – Philadelphia over Minnesota:  Granted it’s a small sample size, but 5.5 points per game ain’t gonna cut it, Swarm.

Ryan Connors – Minnesota over Philadelphia:  I think that Minnesota will finally get their offense together, and when it comes, it’s going to come fast.

Connor Wilson – Minnesota over Philly:  Minneapolis will start pulling together more Ws. It’s early, but they have to!

Toronto Rock @ Rochester Knighthawks

Mark Donahue – Rochester over Toronto:  Well the Knighthawks are scary again this year. Toronto actually appears to be the team to beat because of the productivity from Billings, Hellyer and co. I hate to choose, but since I have to, I’m going Hawks….and don’t be surprised to see that in OT.

Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Toronto:  Could be a defensive battle, and if that’s how it goes, I’m taking the champs at home.

Ryan Connors – Rochester over Toronto:  Can’t pick against Rochester when they are playing the way they are now.

Connor Wilson – Toronto over Rochester: I feel like I’m taking crazy pills here, but the only way I see a team beating Rochester right now is if they play a slow down control style offensive game, which results in open shots from 8 yards or less and dunk goals. Toronto does that as well as anyone. I’ll go Rock with the upset and be the odd man out.

Vancouver Stealth @ Calgary Roughnecks

Mark Donahue – Calgary over Vancouver:  Calgary at home is a plus for the Roughnecks, but again this game is too close to pick, I liked the Stealth a lot last weekend. They are going to have to step up on defense to counter the dominance of Calgary at the faceoff and their forwards

Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Vancouver:  Tough weekend for the Stealth, but I just like the Roughneck’s offensive potential a little more in this one.

Ryan Connors – Calgary over Vancouver:  This game is too close to call. Calgary has a lot of weapons on offense and Snider on face offs – that is the tipping point.

Connor Wilson – Calgary over Vancouver:  I don’t like the Roughnecks to lose two games this weekend. Not one bit.

Buffalo Bandits @ Colorado Mammoth

Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Colorado:  Like I said, I don’t see the Mammoth digging themselves out this weekend. The goaltending and defense look like Swiss cheese right now, holes as far as the eye can see. I don’t want to put them down because of my respect for their vets, but Dhane Smith, Cosmo and the boys are coming off an exciting OT victory… I see them riding high in to Denver this weekend.

Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Colorado:  Buffalo’s only game of the weekend, coupled with Smith and Tavares coming off of huge games in their OT win in Philly. Could carry that momentum into Denver and knock out a tired Mammoth squad.

Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Colorado:  Buffalo is a team playing with a different type of fire right now. Their only downfall is that they are on the road.

Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Colorado:  If Dhane Smith continues to do work at all ends of the floor, and other follow suit, Buffalo is always dangerous.

Sunday Games:

Philadelphia Wings @ Minnesota Swarm

Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Philly:  It’s hard to pick the same outcome twice in one weekend and I will be digging my foot out of my mouth if the Wings step up and win both. The game last Sunday in Philly was a thriller, but it had to break morale a little when they couldn’t find the win in OT. Again, I see the Minnesota young bucks getting it together and picking up a much needed two wins this weekend.

Chris Rosenthall – Minnesota over Philadelphia:  They have to put it together at some point, right? Aside from Philly’s defensive lapses last week, that’s pretty much my only basis for this pick. If not now, when?

Ryan Connors – Minnesota over Philadelphia:  I know Minnesota is due…..I think?

Connor Wilson – Philly over Minnesota:  I’ll take legs in the first game, and physical toughness in the second. Love the home and away! Hope I get this split in the right order. Otherwise… I’m toast!

NLL Fantasy Thoughts

I have been struggling with my NLL picks, but my fantasy team hasn’t been doing too badly! I actually struggled making transfers this week because I couldn’t find a reason to drop any of my players. I added John Ranagan on defense – he scored a goal last weekend and I’m hoping he’ll find more time in the offensive zone this weekend. Alex Gajic had a down week but I feel confident that he is going to rebound this week and maybe find the back of the net at least once. Kyle Buchanan is still on a tear and he is one of the players I am going to stick with until I find a reason not to start him.

Correct Picks Running Tally:

Connor Wilson (5-6)
Chris Rosenthall (7-4)
Mark Donahue (6-5)
Ryan Connors (6-5)