With just four games left in the 2012 Major League Lacrosse regular season, we have finally reached the point where things start to become official. Instead of “practically” being in, the Bayhawks can officially clinch a playoff berth with a win. On the other hand, Charlotte, Ohio and Hamilton can be officially eliminated with a loss.
Don’t forget that the first game (Denver vs. Boston) is on Thursday this week and will be televised!
Check out the best questions, comments, stats and subplots to get you ready for this week’s games!
Denver vs. Boston
- When these two teams met up earlier this season, Chris Eck won 60% of his faceoffs on the way to a 17-10 Cannons victory. On the other hand, Anthony Kelly was still playing for the Machine and Mark Matthews was still in college, so we’re looking at a very different Outlaws team this time around. The Outlaws have won four of their last five games, and Kelly went 23-30 last weekend against Charlotte, while Eck went 9-28 against Long Island (granted Charlotte has the worst faceoff percentage and Long Island the best). Can Eck bounce back, or will Kelly continue the momentum he picked up last week?
- He’s already tied his career high for points and put up more assists in 2012 than in his past two seasons combined, but Paul Rabil’s shooting percentage, if the season ended today, would be the lowest of his career. Not only that, but Rabil’s game last weekend was his first without a goal in a span of 27 consecutive regular season games. Can Paul Rabil get his shot back on track this Thursday at the expense of his old Hopkins teammate Jesse Schwartzman?
Charlotte vs. Rochester
- Jovan Miller has had this game circled on his calendar all year. Not only is he heading back home to Upstate NY, but he’s also playing against his former team for the first time since he was traded to Charlotte. Think he’s motivated to get the win that could potentially keep his former team out of the playoffs? When I asked him for a comment about his homecoming, here’s what Jovan had to say:
The Nation will be in full force! We’ll see where their Upstate loyalty is!
So let it be known exactly who you’re rolling with, fans. If Miller squares up against Joel White and takes some shots on John Galloway, it’ll be like we’re all at the Carrier Dome, watching a scrimmage from last year.
- This Saturday Matt Streibel will set the new MLL record for most games played (133). Streibel, the only person to play in the MLL every season since the league’s inception, is second on the Rattlers with 19 points.
- A tale of the tape: Charlotte has given up the most points in the league, but Rochester has scored the fewest. The Hounds compile more extra-man opportunities than any other team, but the Rattlers have the best penalty kill numbers by far, stopping 87.5%.
Hamilton vs. Long Island
- It doesn’t get any easier for Max Siebald. Last week he was matched up against Kyle Sweeney, this weekend he gets Brodie Merrill. Dude can’t catch a break. By the way, the last time Merrill wasn’t named MLL defensive player of the year, Seibald was graduating from high school.
- A crowd of 4,512 was in attendance to see the Lizards beat the Cannons last week, their highest total since July of last year. Can the Lizards draw another crowd of that size to help get them to the playoffs?
- Last weekend at Ohio was the first time Scott Rodgers was in goal for all 60 minutes of a game this season. Head coach Regy Thorpe said Rodgers would probably start again this weekend; should we expect Brett Queener in the second half, or is Hamilton going to stick with Rodgers?
- Where is Casey Powell? We haven’t seen him since the All-Star game. Thorpe says Powell’s been busy with work and family obligations, and has called him “questionable” for Saturday’s game. Hamilton is eliminated if they drop this game; should we expect to see him back this year?
Chesapeake vs. Ohio
- Chesapeake is the only team with seven players who’ve scored 20 points or more this season, and Kyle Dixon is leading the way with 33. Dixon set the career 2-pt record earlier this season (also against the Machine), and the next 2-pointer that he scores will be an MLL-record 12th this season. Ohio’s given up the most two-pointers this year, so you have to like his chances.
- Ohio’s Kyle Hartzell has eight 2-pointers of his own this season, so he still has a chance to grab that record for himself before it’s all said and done. Hartzell scored of total of two 2-pointers in his 39 career games prior to this season. Despite the record, Ohio has only held to single digits once this season, better than Charlotte (four times), Rochester (three), and Hamilton (three).
So now that you’ve got some seemingly weird stats and ideas floating around your head, has it changed who you think will win? Or make the final playoff push?
Who will emerge as the 2012 MLL Champ?