Georgia Swarm Rochester Knighthawks NLL 2018 NLL Eastern Division
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Making Sense of the NLL Eastern Division

In a perfect world, figuring out where teams stand relative to each other is easy. You have good teams, bad teams, and everyone in the middle. But what’s going on in the NLL Eastern Division right now is anything but perfect.

The defending champs in Georgia are not in repeat form at all, and the team in first has had some of the worst games I’ve seen this season. It can be pretty puzzling.

Current NLL Eastern Division Standings

Buffalo 6 3 0.667
Toronto 5 4 0.556
New England 4 4 0.500
Georgia 4 5 0.444
Rochester 4 6 0.400

On the LaxAllStars Twitter account, we have a poll to ask which of the four four win teams in the league, which is most likely to turn things around first. Georgia won, with Rochester right behind and New England tied for last with Calgary. Honestly, these responses made quite a bit of sense.

Looking South

Georgia basically had to be the best pick here since they are the reigning champs. But, this is not 2017 Georgia. At this point in the season last year, the Swarm were sitting at 7-2. That’s a far cry from 4-5 while also being 7th in the league in both points for and points against. Points against makes some sense for this team since they are a bit young on that end, this Georgia squad is supposed to be putting in points like nobody’s business.

Georgia Swarm Toronto Rock NLL 2018

After nine games last year, they had 134 points, which was enough to lead the East right now, including Rochester’s 131 in 10 games. It’s also a single point behind Saskatchewan’s current pace which leads the league. So while they may be the sentimental favorite, the magic of last year has not returned.

Howlin’ at the Moon

New England is on track to be in last place in the East, which is not a good sign at all. They and Georgia are the only teams to represent the East in the last two playoffs, as Rochester has been in a drought, while the Rock and Bandits have each gone once. But they are now last in the division and either in the league in both points for and points against.

New England Black Wolves NEBW vs GA Swarm Photo Jeff Melnik NLL 2018
Photo: Jeff Melnik / Conquest Photos

On average, they are giving up almost four more goals than they are scoring. They is only slightly better than Vancouver, who lost one game by 14, throwing off their numbers a little bit. Coach Glenn Clark has been growing increasingly frustrated in the past few weeks. His repeated phrase is that eventually you become what you are. That is to say, they see themselves as being better than they are showing, but at some point you have to recognize that you may just be that team out on the floor. Trading for Johnny Powless is not a panacea, but it shouldn’t be a shock that they’re looking to shake things up. They need a major turnaround, but are running out of time to do it.

Rochester Revival

That brings us to Rochester. This is a team that probably has the most upside. Much is said about their aging corps of veterans, but who those veterans are matters. Rochester is third in the league in goals against, and fourth in goals for. Matt Vinc has been a major part of that by leading the league in saves, second in goals against average, and is third in save percentage. That is a great combo of stats to be near the top in.

Rochester Knighthawks Georgia Swarm NLL 2018
Photo: NLL

On offense, they have a great blend of veterans like Resetarits and Jamieson leading the way. But young guys like Josh Currier and Kyle Jackson are being productive right along rookies like Austin Shanks and Eric Fannell. That doesn’t even mention the best draw guy in the league with Jake Withers. Their massive rookie class is blending right in with the core that won them three straight championships less than a handful of season ago.

Breaking Buffalo

The two teams with winning records are not on solid ground, though. Buffalo may have turned the corner that New England is currently looking for now. They split their games against each other so far, but Buffalo looked helpless in their second meeting. Since the new year has rolled around, the only Bandits loss has been in overtime to the Stealth, who were about as motived as any team can be after one of the worst games I’ve ever seen.

Buffalo Bandits New England Blackwolves Photo Jeff Melnik
Photo: Jeff Melnik

Since that loss, Buffalo has won four straight, including three East wins. So their past is a little sketchy, but they are on the right path and looking like a completely different teams as of late.

Rock’n & Roll’n

Toronto is overall in the best shape despite being slightly behind the Bandits. The dark cloud over them is also the injury to Tom Schreiber. Even though Adam Jones and Rob Hellyer have more points the Schreiber, that’s more of a sign of how much they’ve been scoring. As the third option on the team, he still has more points than the leading scorers for New England, Rochester, Vancouver, Calgary, and Georgia. Rochester and Vancouver have both played one more game than Toronto, too. New England and Colorado have one fewer.

Nick Rose, Toronto Rock. Photo: Ryan McCullough
Nick Rose, Toronto Rock. Photo: Ryan McCullough

Barring a big turnaround from somebody, your mostly likely playoff teams in the East are going to be Toronto, Buffalo, and Rochester. But still everything is WELL within reach, so things are realistically wide open for every team. Like I said at the very beginning of this post, we don’t live in a perfect world