Three goals and three great games was the theme of the NLL games this past weekend.
Photo Credit: Larry Palumbo
Buffalo took down the undefeated Knighthawks to gain first place in the Eastern Conference. Anthony Cosmo did his best Matt Vinc impression and made 46 saves in the win. Rochester made a furious comeback but the Bandits were able to hold off the rally. The Bandits looked like the better team and controlled the game throughout. Joel McCready continues to have the hot hand for Rochester, but Buffalo got off to a big 10-3 lead and never looked back. John Tavares continues to lead the offense for Buffalo. Steve Priolo has cooled off, of course right as I pick him up for fantasy.
The second game of the weekend featured the Colorado Mammoth dropping the Calgary Roughnecks in an overtime thriller. John Grant Jr. scored the game winner and did it in typical Junior fashion – no look over the shoulder shot. The real story of the night was Adam Jones scoring 7 goals. Jones is making a strong case for MVP this season – he has 37 points through 7 games. The even better news for Colorado is now Casey Powell has announced his return to the Mammoth. Colorado’s offense just got even more powerful, but the question is how quickly will Powell gel with the rest of the offense.
Another interesting note, as I am writing this article, under the NLL Transactions tab, it says that Calgary has released Scott Ranger from the Active Roster and moved to the practice squad. Is Calgary trying to shake things up or is it for quick financial shuffling? Calgary has now dropped 2 of the last 3 and are not sitting atop the standings like they thought they would. Is there change coming in Calgary that we are not aware of? The Roughnecks have this weekend off so they are a team to keep an eye on in their bye week.
Finally, we have the game between that took place between Vancouver and Edmonton. Edmonton made what will be the comeback of the year to beat Vancouver. The Rush scored 7 second-half goals while holding The Stealth to just 1. Rush netminder Aaron Bold was pulled after giving up 4 goals on just 13 shots. Backup Brodie McDonald came in and saved the day. Mcdonald only gave up 4 goals and made 23 saves including a few highlight reel saves. Curtis Knight, Mark Matthews, and Zack Greer led the charge for Edmonton to victory.
Vancouver can’t be happy they let this game go in the loss column. In such a tight league, every game counts and the Stealth learned that lesson the hard way. Now, with even fewer teams making the playoffs, teams are looking to get ahead early and stay ahead in the standings. The Stealth put themselves in a tough position early and will need to string together some wins soon. They have a big opportunity to get a huge win and gather some momentum moving forward.
Let’s take a look at this weekend’s slate of games!
Vancouver Stealth @ Toronto Rock
Mark Donahue – Toronto over Vancouver – Vancouver is much better than I expected at this point, but the Rock are consistent and solid. I expect a close game, but Toronto is coming off rest and they’re at home, I like the Rock in this one.
Chris Rosenthall – Toronto over Vancouver – I could’ve sworn the Stealth were going to get blown out last week against Edmonton, so I need to give them a bit more credit than I have in the past. However, if Rhys Duch is out (one-game suspension; illegal cross-check), it’s going to be that much tougher to beat an already tough defense. Update: so it turns out Duch is appealing the suspension & will be in the lineup on Friday. Still going Rock.
Ryan Connors – Toronto over Vancouver – Vancouver has been playing well but can’t seem to win the close ones. Toronto will be ready to go after a week off.
Connor Wilson – Toronto over Vancouver – Rock put together a good team game in the 5 on 5, and win a close one.
Toronto Rock @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Toronto over Buffalo – This is the tough pick of the week. Just because being different worked for me last week, I’m trying it again. It will be tough to play back to back games for a more veteran roster like Toronto, but it’s not like Buffalo is too far away. Let’s go Rock, again.
Chris Rosenthall – Buffalo over Toronto - Toronto hasn’t played a game since January 18th. Not sure if that helps them or hurts them when it comes to back to back games this weekend. Does it matter either way? The Bandits put up 11 on the Knighthawks last week, and nobody’s done that since the 2013 regular season. Got to go with Buffalo’s momentum.
Ryan Connors – Buffalo over Toronto – It is official, I am all aboard the bandwagon to Banditland.
Connor Wilson – Buffalo over Toronto – Buffalo pushes transition really well and can get settled goals. They are riding high and will beat a beat up Rock team.
Vancouver Stealth @ Philadelphia Wings
Mark Donahue – Philadelphia over Vancouver – Another team in a back to back weekend is the Stealth. I have to pick the Wings at home here, they are much better than anticipated. It’s a lot of travel for Vancouver, I expect them to be a little worn after facing the Rock in Toronto on Friday.
Chris Rosenthall – Philadelphia over Vancouver - No idea. The Wings have been capable of putting up big numbers, but not consistently, and I clearly haven’t gotten a good read on the Stealth yet. I’m going with the Wings, but I don’t feel great about it.
Ryan Connors – Vancouver over Philadelphia – The Stealth dropped a close one to Edmonton and are going to be hungry to get their train back on the right track.
Connor Wilson – Philadelphia over Vancouver – Philly gets back on track and wins a physical game.
Minnesota Swarm @ Colorado Mammoth
Mark Donahue – Minnesota over Colorado – Ahh! I don’t know! I have been pulling for the young Swarm team all year, and they aren’t making the connections we are waiting to see. Colorado is solid, but they also don’t always click either. Bringing Casey Powell back will fill seats, and he is a G.O.A.T., but will missing a chunk of the season negatively effect the elder statesman, and really the whole Mammoth lineup?
Chris Rosenthall – Colorado over Minnesotra - 14 goals last week was an encouraging sign for Mammoth fans, and having Casey Powell back in the lineup probably won’t hurt things either.
Ryan Connors – Colorado over Minnesota – The Swarm have been disappointing so far this season, and now that Colorado has Casey Powell back, what’s not to like about the Mammoth at home.
Connor Wilson – Minnesota over Colorado – Transition rules for Minnesota, and they win a high scoring game.
Rochester Knighthawks @ Edmonton Rush
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Edmonton – Seriously the Rush are great, but I can see the Knighthawks making another run this year. The game’s in Edmonton, but the Rush will finally be challenged by the Rochester defense. On the other side, the Rush defense seems impenetrable. I’m going different and picking the Hawks.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Rochester - This will be the toughest defense they’ve faced this season, but still: can’t bet against the Rush right now. Offense and defense are clicking nicely.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Rochester – 50-50 toss-up game. I have to stay with Edmonton because I think their defense is a notch above Rochester. There is also a possibility that Dawson isn’t playing, doesn’t look too good for Roc-City.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Rochester – 5 on 5 gives the edge to Rochester, but if Edmonton can run a little, the Rush take it.
I had an awful fantasy week. My team scored a season low 71 points. Embarrassing. I made a last minute swap of Drew Westervelt for John Tarvares, which turned out to be a big mistake. Westy didn’t play because he was at the Team USA Champions Challenge. That is just one of those factors you have to take into account for NLL. JT would have been nice to have on the team because he netted 4 goals in his win. Riley Lowen and Sean Polluck didn’t do much for me. The two bright spots were Buffalo Goalie and Curtis Knight. I am going to have to do some serious thinking about reconstructing my team.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (12-9)
Chris Rosenthall (12-9)
Mark Donahue (13-8)
Ryan Connors (12-9)