Editor’s Note: We’re back with another NLL Game of the Week! Thanks to the help of the innovative team at SISU Guard, the Official Mouthguard of the NLL, we are beefing up our National Lacrosse League coverage for 2016! We hope you enjoy our look at the NLL season through a new lens with the aid of our partner SISU!
There wan’t much to rave about from Week 4, so let’s hope the five games this weekend can bring some excitement to our lives. One game in particular has our eyebrows raised, the Colorado Mammoth visiting the Saskatchewan Rush.
The Rush took a punch in the mouth last weekend and still haven’t produced what we saw from basically the same team that won the Champion’s Cup in 2015. They’ve put up 22 goals in 2 games, which is fair for the league, but that’s opposite another 22 that they’ve let in. The Sakatchewan defense features some of the top lockdown athletes in the game and arguably the best goaltender guarding the cage, the Mammoth offense is absolutely going to put them to the test.
Colorado’s forwards have combined for 130 points and are shooting with about a 22% success average. The Mammoth have put up 14 or more in each game this season, the Rush have yet to crack 11. This is going to be a test for both teams on each side of the floor.
NLL Game of the Week
Colorado Mammoth (4-0) at Saskatchewan Rush (1-1)
When: 1/29/2016 – 8:30 pm ET
Where: SaskTel Centre – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Watch: Fox Sports GO
[mks_one_half]Standing: 1st in Western Conference
Watch For: Goals, lots of goals. They’ve scored no less than 14 goals in all four of their games, it’s up to the Sask shooters to match the tempo.
Points Leader: Adam Jones (1st Overall) – 15 goals, 15 assists
Things to work on: Colorado is losing the face-off game and are struggling with consistency from the goaltenders. Ward may have hit his stride last week but Coates hasn’t had a positive night yet at the circle.
[mks_one_half]Standing: 2nd in Western Conference
Watch for: Aaron Bold to put up a fight against the hot handed shooters. Matthews got his caged rattled a bit last week, I expect him to bounce back in full form.
Points Leader: Mark Matthews (19th Overall) – 3 goals, 8 assists
Needs to work on: Staying out of the penalty box. 49 PIM in two games is too high, they’ll be facing the top power play unit in the NLL.
Things started off good for the defending NLL Champs before dropping their inaugural home game as the Saskatchewan Rush against the Stealth in a 13-11 shootout. Now 1-1, they face a steamrolling Colorado Mammoth back in the SaskTel Center that hosted 9,147 fans on their opening night. Robert Church (5+3) and Mark Matthews (3+8) are leading the offense as expected. Defenseman Chris Corbeil has 3 goals after two games along with 10 loose balls and Ryan Dilks has played in midseason form, forcing 8 turnovers and collecting 5 assists so far.
No matter how veteran the defense may be, they still need to keep an eye on, and overplay, Junior coming from the boards. He’s a killer in the shooter’s position and times his run release in transition like no one’s business. Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Aaron Bold hasn’t had his chance to find footing. He’s going to be laid into by the Mammoth offense, the Rush are going to need a big game in the crease.
Where’s Colorado’s weakness? Albeit they’ve played four games to most team’s three, the Mammoth have four guys in the top six of the Points list. Last game John Grant Jr. went off with 5 goals and 2 helpers, but over the three games leading up it was Adam Jones with lighting up the scoreboard. Callum Crawford has also been a lethal addition to the righty side, he’s put up 9 goals and a team high 20 assists in his first four games with Colorado.
Between the pipes things started off a little rough but Dillon Ward appears to have found his groove. He stopped 50 Stealth shots last Saturday night and let in only 5 goals. The defense has been better than expected. Greg Downing is having a big year, already causing 13 turnovers and the rest of the defensive core has combined for 8 goals and 14 assists. If Thompson shows up for Sask, it could be a long night for Coates at the draw circle. Both teams have some serious strengths and little weakness, gear up for war in Saskatoon!
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Week 5 Games
- Georgia Swarm at Toronto Rock – 8 pm – Fox Sports GO
- Buffalo Bandits at New England Black Wolves – 7 pm – Fox Sports GO
- Georgia Swarm at Rochester Knighthawks – 7:30 pm – Fox Sports GO
- Vancouver Stealth at Calgary Roughnecks – 9 pm – Watch ESPN
Which game are you looking forward to the most? Make your predictions for this weekend and the rest of the 2016 NLL season in the comment section below!