The first round of the 2019 NLL Playoffs treated fans to some exciting games, but the Division Finals are set to deliver two more wild finishes this weekend. Expect the crowds at the Saddledome in Calgary and at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo to be packed to the brim as a trip to the NLL Finals is on the line.
2019 NLL Playoffs Analysis
West Divisional Final
Calgary Roughnecks vs Colorado Mammoth
Friday, May 10 at 9:00 pm ET
The Colorado Mammoth have not beat the Calgary Roughnecks in a playoff game since 2006 and lost to them last season 15-12 in the first round of the playoffs. The Roughnecks have had their number for a long time, but the 2019 NLL playoffs could be the year that the Mammoth finally get their revenge. After upsetting the No. 1 seed Saskatchewan Rush in the first round, the underdog Mammoth probably feel like they can beat anyone.
Colorado actually holds the regular season series over the Roughnecks as they beat them twice this year, but as I said in my preview for the Calgary vs San Diego game the Roughnecks will have their secret weapon of Jesse King who the Mammoth have not played against this season. King compliments Dane Dobbie and Curtis Dickson well in the offense as they draw a lot of attention, which allows King as well as Rhys Duch, Dan Taylor, and Riley Loewen chances to get open and score.
Colorado’s offense seems to have finally found their mojo as the injection of Eli McLaughlin back into the lineup, the re-emergence of Jeremy Noble, and Ryan Lee’s incredible first NLL playoff game had them looking like a completely different team.
— Colorado Mammoth (@MammothLax) May 5, 2019
Getting more chances in transition like Joey Cupido’s game winning goal against the Rush will also be crucial if the Roughneck’s defense slows down the offense. The Mammoth will also need to stay out of the penalty box as Calgary was 4-for-7 on their power play opportunities that ended up being the difference in their win against San Diego.
The Mammoth will have an edge in terms of preparation as they played their first round game against the Rush last Friday and the Roughnecks played San Diego just this past Monday so I think Colorado carries the momentum from their win against the Rush and escape the Saddledome with another surprise win.
Prediction: 10-9 Colorado Wins
East Divisional Final
Buffalo Bandits vs Toronto Rock
Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 pm ET
“It’s gonna be a bloodbath out there.”@dhanesmith92, @Joshbyrne94, @MattGilray and Chris Cloutier have some choice words about Toronto before this weekend’s playoff game #NLL @NLLBandits @SPECNewsBuffalo pic.twitter.com/GSqco7bHdd
— Ted Goldberg (@TedGoldbergTV) May 8, 2019
“It’s gonna be a bloodbath out there,” – Josh Byrne
Josh Byrne’s comments sum up what to expect from the Eastern Division Final between the Buffalo Bandits and the Toronto Rock in the 2019 NLL playoffs. The teams close proximity to each other and familiarity between the franchises and the players on the teams have always made for exciting and chippy games. Toronto won two of three games against Buffalo in the regular season serving as the Bandits kryptonite during a regular season in which they had 14 wins. However, playoff lacrosse is a completely different animal and really anything could happen as these closely matched teams meet again. Expect this game to be a violent and fast paced affair now that it is do or die to get to the NLL Championship.
Buffalo’s difference maker right now is Matt Vinc in net. Against the Black Wolves in the first round he was locked in from the start and made some classic Vino saves as he was peppered throughout the game. His defense in front of him is also playing extremely well as a unit and will make it difficult for the Rock to get the shots they want. Toronto’s Nick Rose made some big saves down the stretch as the Swarm tried to launch a comeback and will need to play best game of the year to limit the Bandits sharpshooters.
The Rock and the Bandits are very similar in that they have transition players who are not afraid to push the ball and their offenses are both stacked. The Bandits have the likes of Dhane Smith, Shawn Evans, Josh Bryne, Corey Small, Thomas Hoggarth and Chris Cloutier while the Rock counter with Tom Schreiber, Rob Hellyer, Adam Jones, Dan Craig, Johnny Powless, Kieran McArdle, and Dan Lintner. We are in for a showcase of offensive firepower from both teams.
I think the Banditland crowd and blistering pace the Bandits play may be too much for the Rock, but if Toronto can score like they were against Georgia this could be the best game these two franchises have ever played against each other.
Prediction: Buffalo Wins 15-14 in Overtime
Get ready for playoff lacrosse at its best this weekend. Winners of this weekend advance in the 2019 NLL playoffs to the NLL Championship Game. It’s all on the line.
Let us know your predictions in the comments.