We are one step closer to the NLL Championship! The NLL Conference Finals returns some familiar faces and with a best of three format, we should be in for some exciting action this weekend. Lets preview the NLL Confernece Finals.
West Conference Finals: Colorado Mammoth vs Calgary Roughnecks
Here we are in the West with Colorado vs Calgary, just like everyone predicted. All jokes aside, we have two of the scrappiest teams in a reimatch of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals.
Colorado is looking to build a playoff win streak against Calgary and win against the Roughnecks for only the third time since 2006. Colorado is healthier and more dangerous than last season, as was evident with their last second win versus the heavily favored Seals last week.
Consistency is still a major factor for the Mammoth; they have been up and down all season. That inconsistency allowed San Diego to battle back and almost force overtime after having a four-goal lead at the half.
Calgary comes into a very similar situation to last season’s Colorado team. I personally thought that they would miss the playoffs after losing Curtis Dickson, and all the improvements made by the rest of the West, but here they are.
Jesse King has been the leader on offense and Christian Del Bianco has been dominant all season long. While it might not be flashy, defense and timely scoring is Calgary’s recipe for success.
It will be a battle between the pipes as the two best goalies in the West look to shut down the opposition. Dillon Ward and Del Bianco have easily been the best goalies in the West all season long and we will probably see a low scoring series.
I have doubted Colorado all the way back to last season, but I’ve learned my lesson, so I have Colorado winning and heading back to the NLL Finals.
Colorado wins the series 2-0.
East Conference Finals: Toronto vs Buffalo
Since the NLL season began, it’s been “will it be Toronto or Buffalo representing the East in the NLL Finals?” These two have easily been the cream of the crop in the East.
Buffalo has dominated all season, which is nothing new, and they are hoping they can get back to the Finals and FINALLY get over the hump. Offensively, they continue to be a juggernaut, and Matt Vinc is still defying Father Time and dominating at age 40.
Buffalo swept the Rock during the regular season, outscoring The Rock 40-25 in their three meetings. Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer knows the challenge ahead. “It starts with their goaltender on out. They have a lot of firepower on offense and they have a big physical defense. We played them three times this year and played them in the playoffs last year. Usually, each game is just decided by one mistake here or there.”
Toronto is no slouch though, and they are looking for revenge after having their championship dreams end at the hands of Buffalo and a tough review that ended their season.
While the Bandits already pose a tough task, it might be even more daunting for the Rock if Tom Schreiber isn’t healthy. He missed last weeks game against Halifax. That being said, goaltending can steal a series (or two) and guide you to a championship. If Nick Rose can stand on his head, it might be enough to stifle the Bandits. Regardless of Schreiber’s availability, Dhane Smith knows The Rock will be a tough matchup. “It’s never an easy battle when we play each other. They’re a really talented team from goaltender to defense to offense. At the end of the day, I think we’re a great team as well so it’s two great teams playing against each other and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
This years matchup should be just as exciting as last year and I think we will be treated with a full three game series, but I think Buffalo will be up to the challenge and squeeze out a series win against the Rock.
Bandits over the Rock 2-1.