There are FIVE big Major League Lacrosse games this weekend, and ALL five games have major playoff implications! Certain teams can pretty much lock up playoff berths and others simply need to win to stay alive… it’s the biggest weekend of MLL lacrosse yet!
Ohio Machine @ Hamilton Nationals
Hamilton Nationals @ Ohio Machine
On Friday night, the Nationals head to Ohio to take on the Machine, and then on Saturday, both teams travel to Canada to play a night game in Hamilton. Ohio sits at 1-7 and Hamilton is 2-6, but neither team is eliminated from the playoff hunt if they can win out. One more loss though, and both teams will most likely be on the outside looking in during the 4 team playoff.
Ohio has made some upgrades, and is playing as a team much better. Their games have gotten tighter, and a tilt with the Machine is no longer a guaranteed win for other MLL franchises. Hamilton is still struggling, but also loaded with talent, and a dangerous team for anyone to face the rest of the way.
My instincts are telling me that these two teams will split the games this weekend, which will effectively end both teams’ playoff hopes. As for picks, I’ll take Ohio on Friday night, and Hamilton on Saturday. Face offs could definitely come into play and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ohio throw a pole up to the X to take a couple draws.
Boston Cannons @ LI Lizards
The Cannons sit at 6-3 right now, while the Lizards are one game back at 5-4. Both teams have looked like contenders at different points in the season, and both teams have strong scoring midfielders complimented nicely by finishers and slick ball handlers on attack. Both teams also posses athletic longsticks and excellent goal keepers.
Honestly, it’s hard to find an edge in this game. But if I’m going to find one, it has to be in the usual place: the face off X. Both Greg Gurenlian and Chris Eck have been awesome this year for the most part, and they might be the top two FoGos in the MLL this Summer. Gurenlian struggled last week mightily, and you know he’s going to bring his A-game as he takes a loss personally. I like Greggy Beast to win a couple more draws and score a goal or two, and I like Long Island to get back on track with a close win at home.
Charlotte Hounds @ Denver Outlaws
Charlotte’s win over the Bayhawks last week propels them to a 3-6 mark with 5 games left. If the Hounds want to make the playoffs in year 1, this is a must win game for them. Sitting at 4-6 would be a big improvement, and could put them within a game of the Lizards, should LI lose to Boston.
Denver is 6-3 and definitely looks strong, but the gap between teams like Denver, and teams like Charlotte, has certainly closed since the beginning of the year. Denver’s midfield has come alive recently, and Peet Poillon is re-emerging as a world class scoring middie, which has to have Denver fans pumped.
In the end, I think this game comes down to passion and who wants it more. Denver always plays hard, but if they sit back on their 6-3 record, Charlotte could emerge with the win. The long trip will be tough for the Hounds, but I’ll still pick them to win, like I did last week. There is belief on that team, and talent, and they want to win now. If Matt Danowski has a big game, and continues to lead the way he has, the Hounds are in it with anyone.
Both teams picked up new FoGos this week, and the Anthony Kelly (Denver) vs. Geoff Snider (Charlotte) battle could be epic. Snider will wear #17 to honor Chris Sanderson, the legendary Canadian keeper, who recently passed away from brain cancer. If Snider dominates like he can, my prediction is looking even more solid.
Chesapeake Bayhawks @ Rochester Rattlers
The Rattlers are coming off back to back wins over the LI Lizards last weekend, and the Bayhawks are fresh off a huge upset loss to Charlotte. The Bayhawks are 7-2 and still leading the league, while Rochester is 5-4 and riding a three game winning streak.
Chesepeake doesn’t “need” the win here, but they certainly don’t want to drop two games in a row. This is a team with championship aspirations and a two game losing streak is not what they’re looking for. Rochester, on the other hand, came in to the season after a tough 2011 campaign and they seem to be vying for a title now that we’ve passed the midpoint mark of the season. The Rochester defense has solidified into a great group and the Rattlers’ offense is definitely clicking, diverse and dangerous.
If John Galloway can stop the 2-point barrage by the Bayhawks’ midfielders, the Ratz could win by as many as 4-5 goals. While I like Rochester, I think the win will only come by a goal or two, and since the Rochester picking curse worked so well for me last week, I’m sticking with it now. I like Rochester to win, so I’m picking the Bayhawks. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it works. My gut is always wrong when it comes to the Rattlers.
So there you have it! It’s a huge weekend of MLL lacrosse and all five games mean everything to the fans and the guys on the field. Are you checking out a game this weekend? Disagree with my picks? Let me know below!