NLL Media Poll 2017 Calgary Roughnecks Saskatchewan Rush Photo: Josh Schaefer
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NLL Media Poll – Like Oil and Water

Authors’ Notes: Welcome back to another NLL Media Poll. We got fed up with lacrosse’s lack of polls that tie together multiple media sources, so we made one ourselves. This poll features votes from Inside Lacrosse and Tyson Geick of the NLL, along with our own Mark Donahue and Ryan Conwell.

Despite our varying opinions about how things are really shaking out with just a month left of the season, the law of averages keeps our NLL Media Poll from changing all too much. There’s one thing that is clear. The top and bottom are separating like oil from water. The postseason door is still open for every team. No one clenched just yet, although Saskatchewan had the chance last weekend.

Monday was the 2017 Trade Deadline and for another year, not much happened. A three-way deal did breakout. 2016 Transition Player of the Year, Brad Self, was sent to Colorado; the Bandits got a 2nd and 4th round pick in 2017 and a 4th rounder in 2019; and Calgary got the big defensive veteran Creighton Reid out of it. Mark thought Rochester would go to the auction, but it looks like that didn’t shake out. Guess they’re playing it cool with that young talent.

9. Buffalo Bandits (-2)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Rochester Knighthawks vs Buffalo Bandits Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

Record: 5-7
Weekend Result: Loss to Rochester, 10-11
Next Game: vs. Saskatchewan – Saturday, April 1st 7:30pm ET
Goals: Mitch Jones – 21 (T-18th)
Assists: Dhane Smith – 35 (T-12th)
Points: Dhane Smith – 55 (T-13th)

Ryan Conwell

Buffalo is definitely hurting right now after two straight losses to Rochester. With two games against both Toronto and Georgia to end the season and a pair of games against the Rush and Roughnecks up next, this is not an easy road for the Bandits. The positive spin is the old “to be the best, you have to beat the best” adage. If the Bandits can really come together and find the team that almost won a championship last year, they would be especially dangerous. Those are some very good teams that they need to earn their wins against, so the momentum they would carry into a playoff spot would be hard to top.

Mark Donahue

Brad Self might be an unrestricted FA at the end of the season, but did Buffalo just give up on the season? They sold off the 2016 Transition Player of the year for what came to be a 2nd rounder (2017) and two 4th round selections (2017 & 2019). They need to really mix it up to make a push at something with where they’re sitting. I hope to see Blaze back on that lefty side clearing room and either more shots from Dhane.

Ultimately, they got crushed by the Knighthawks, 59-33 shots on goal. The game could have been so much worse. Ryan Benesch (4+0) tried to carry the backpack, hitting the back of the net four times over six on-target shots. Big Fish (.813, 48 sv) was forced to make over twice as many saves as Vinc and his squad still couldn’t get the job done. With the new draft picks, it’s obvious they are looking to the future to bring them back.

8. Calgary Roughnecks (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Calgary Roughnecks Saskatchewan Rush Photo: Josh Schaefer
Photo: Josh Schaefer

Record: 5-9
Weekend Result: Loss to Saskatchewan, 10-13; Win over New England, 18-13.
Next Game: @ Rochester – Saturday, April 1st 7:30pm ET
Goals: Curtis Dickson – 39 (1st)
Assists: Jeff Shattler & Curtis Dickson – 43 (T-7th)
Points: Curtis Dickson – 82 (T-1st)

Ryan Conwell

Calgary seems to like double headers, at least in the second game. Both times they have had one this season, they faced a divisional team (Saskatchewan this time around) where they lose in the first game of the weekend, then win against an Eastern team in the second. Both of those times, the Roughnecks have their forwards play like we all know they can play and have exploded for 18 points. It was the Black Wolves this time were run over by Calgary. The score wasn’t even a good indicator of how in charge Calgary was for this game.

I also want to commend the Roughnecks on a stellar job in their “Always a Roughneck” ceremony for Tracey Kelusky before the game. Having seen a few of these by different organizations, I was very impressed by what they put together. The video quality was excellent, and the on field setup & production value was equally high. It was a great tribute and ceremony for everyone involved.

Mark Donahue

A 10-13 loss to Saskatchewan is pretty productive considering how separated the top is from the bottom. I love that they bounced back with 18 against New England for a 5 goal win. We saw the offense do what they were built and groomed to do. Shoot the freaking lights out. They laid it on so heavy in the third, then chased the goalie and Kirk had been on a bit of a streak. Curtis Dickson (5+4) and Wes Berg (3+6) matched feet, putting on a show for 9 points each. Those two never stopped attacking the cage, ripping 14 on goal a piece. Shattler (2+5), Dobbie (3+4), and Cattoni (2+0) all let it fly and points were falling for the Riggers across the board.

Rochester is going to come into this week pretty desperate and a little frazzled without Currier. The Roughnecks have to attack early and rip them to shreds with shots on target. They have four games left and three are against bottom rung teams, including the Stealth, the team the likely need to ward off to grab a playoff spot. It’s probably the easiest path for a team in last place to have to make the postseason, but it’s all up to which team they bring to the floor.

7. Rochester Knighthawks (+2)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Rochester Knighthawks vs Buffalo Bandits Photo: Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V

Record: 5-8
Weekend Result: Win over Buffalo, 11-10.
Next Game: vs. Calgary – Saturday, April 1st, 7:30pm ET
Goals: Josh Currier – 16 (T-22nd)
Assists: Dan Dawson & Kyle Jackson – 2 (T-18th)
Points: Kyle Jackson – 51 (T-19th)

Ryan Conwell

Rochester really needed this win over Buffalo. Even late in the game, it felt like the Knighthawks were going to drop this one at home. Their previous win over Buffalo was a borderline miracle the involved stripping Dhane Smith of the ball while he was running it up the boards to seal their win. This turned into another near miracle as a late Brad Gillies goal locked in the W. Rochester’s big fourth quarter is what won them this game. More importantly, it gave the Knighthawks a 2-1 series lead over Buffalo for any tiebreaker scenario that may happen. They are now on New England’s heels for that third spot in the East.

Mark Donahue

This team is just getting by on the hair on their chins. They outworked Buffalo by 26 shots on goal and 22 loose balls and still only came up with a 1 point win. No Currier in the lineup means even more needs to come from the bench. If you can’t tell by the last of names on the NLL scoring lists, not too many guys have been going out of their way to put up points for the Hawks. Joe Resetartis (3+2) is still leading by example and rookie Kyle Jackson (3+5) matched with a hat trick, but no one else aside from Dan Dawson (2+4) was able to strike twice.

They did a great job of securing possessions and keeping the Bandits from ever getting started. They’re just missing that puck ball luck to connect on all of those shots. This weekend against the Calgary is a must-win to pick up a little speed. They’re one of two teams currently left out of the East Division postseason and they still have to have New England and Georgia twice to close things.

6. Vancouver Stealth (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Toronto Rock Vancouver Stealth Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

Record: 5-8
Weekend Result: Loss to Toronto, 7-13
Next Game: vs. Toronto – Friday, March 31st 10:30pm ET
Goals: Corey Small – 33 (3rd)
Assists: Corey Small – 49 (T-3rd)
Points: Corey Small – 82 (T-1st)

Ryan Conwell

Vancouver continued their skid against the East, which is not the end of the world, but it’s not great, either. Fortunately, Calgary also dropped one of their games this weekend, so they still hold a half game advantage. The Stealth are just not putting up the points they need to while Tye Belanger is certainly giving them some opportunities. Belanger is currently sitting third in the league in save percentage. While Corey Small is leading the league in points, you would think the combination of those two would be good. But alas, it is just not coming together consistently enough for Vancouver to make the jump they need right now.

Mark Donahue

Talk about walking a tightrope. It’s like they almost don’t want to make the playoffs for the first times since moving to Canada. The chasm between the Rush/Mammoth and the Stealth/Roughnecks is growing wider by the week. Now it’s a dogfight between Calgary and Vancouver for the last spot and only a half point ahead, the Stealth need to keep their feet on the Necks. They can get their revenge on the Rock this weekend to get back on track or turn their next three game against West opponents into absolute do-or-dies.

The Stealth kept on knocking, but Nick Rose wasn’t letting anyone in. Logan Schuss (0+1) nearly beat the door down with 10 shots, but still nothing. Rhys Duch pulled 16 on cage and he was still only rewarded twice. It’s going to take a gritty effort across the floor if they’re going to face world-class goaltending and they just didn’t get it done. I know this team is better than they are playing. From the stacked offense to Belanger’s bang-up job between the irons. Their path is going to be brutal, keep your fingers crossed for the BC boys.

5. New England Black Wolves (0)

New England Black Wolves vs Georgia Swarm NLL 2017 Photo Jeff Melnik
Photo: Jeff Melnik / LaxAllStars.com

Record: 6-7
Weekend Result: Loss to Calgary, 13-18
Next Game: vs. Toronto – Sunday, April 2nd 1:00pm ET
Goals: Kevin Crowley – 31 (5th)
Assists: Shawn Evans – 49 (T-3rd)
Points: Shawn Evans – 77 (5th)

Ryan Conwell

I dropped the Black Wolves a spot after their loss to Calgary because more than anything, they just did not play anywhere close to the same level as the Roughnecks. They scored fast late in the game, but it was all but decided at that point. Giving up 18 goals was not only the highest this season, it was also something that never happened a year ago in the regular season. The Black Wolves are still fighting for a playoff spot, so they cannot afford too many defensive lapses like this again.

Mark Donahue

I second everything from Conwell. This team is on a wild rollercoaster and now they’re only separated from missing the playoffs by a half game. We’ve been talking all season about what Calgary should be doing offensively, but to let them rack up 18 goals after the season they’ve had is not a good look. Shawn Evans (3+5) and Kyle Buchanan (4+2) rose to the challenge but it was matched by a too-little, too-late attitude. Chad Culp (0+0) is continuing to spin the tires, only finding a late goal on Saturday for his only point. Evan Kirk (.707) was pulled in the third frame, showing that even when he appears hot, things aren’t stable.

Shoutout to Derek Searle and Jay Thorimbert. Both grinders left it all out there, Searle with a game-leading 10 loosies and Thorimbert finishing 21-35 on draws. Toronto, Georgia, Saskatchewan. That’s the next three. They can come out looking really hot, but even a win, or two, can go a long way.

4. Colorado Mammoth (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Colorado Mammoth Saskatchewan Rush Photo: Jack Dempsey
Photo: Jack Dempsey

Record: 8-6
Weekend Result: Win over Saskatchewan, 14-11
Next Game: @ Georgia – Saturday, April 1st, 7:05pm ET
Goals: Callum Crawford – 28 (T-7th)
Assists: Callum Crawford – 50 (2nd)
Points:  Callum Crawford – 78 (4th)

Ryan Conwell

The Mammoth were big winner this weekend by taking down the Rush. They dominated the fourth quarter and just never gave the Rush a chance to even think about a comeback. They are still a game behind the Rush in the standings, but their win totals are the same. These teams meet again on April 28th, so that could have playoff implications. Their season series is currently 2-1 in favor of Saskatchewan, so the Mammoth could use another head to head win to really boost their postseason hopes.

Mark Donahue

The Mammoth offense absolutely shut it down on Saturday against the Rush. Sask came in off a win over Calgary and after a 1-2 first quarter, Colorado blew the doors off with a 7-1 second. Up 8-3 at halftime, led by three-straight goals by Jeremy Noble (4-3), the game looked pretty under control. Then the Rush reversed it on them and exchanged a 2-7 run in the third, knotting things at 10 for the final quarter. But Zack Greer (3+3) and Callum Crawford (3+3) kept digging.

Each had a goal in the first half and were the only to show up so far in the second. Things opened with an early strike by the Rush, then the Mammoth found something deep down inside and finished the damn thing. Noble, Ruest, Greer, and Crawford followed one another while their netminder shut it down on the backside. Ward made an absolutely absurd 18 saves in the final 15 minutes to lock things down for the Burgundy and White. That’s Champion’s Cup quality goaltending. I’m starting to get a little more excited about Colorado again.

3. Toronto Rock (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Toronto Rock Vancouver Stealth Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

Record: 8-5
Weekend Result: Win over Georgia, 12-11 OT; Win over Vancouver, 13-7
Next Game: @ Vancouver – Friday, March 31st 10:30pm ET & @ New England – Sunday, April 2nd 1:00pm ET
Goals: Brett Hickey – 32 (4th)
Assists: Tom Schreiber – 46 (5th)
Points: Tom Schreiber – 66 (8th)

Ryan Conwell

Toronto handed Georgia their first home loss of the season in overtime, while their trip back up north resulting in a borderline rout of Vancouver. It was an interesting mix on Friday night as the league’s best road team went to visit the league’s best home team. What was unfortunate was how the game came down to a simple play of a defender ball watching and Reid Reinholdt getting those couple of extra steps he needed to score the game winner.

Mark Donahue

That last play was pretty though, wasn’t it? Reinholdt (2+1) found Crepinsek sleeping and was met with a beauty feed from Leblanc (1+4) off the dodge. This team is not going to give up. Down 8-11, they came storming back in the 4th quarter for a 3-1 spree to force overtime. Brett Hickey (5+0) kept hammering them in while Nick Rose (.807) posted double-digit saves in each frame, ending on a Lyle Thompson stuff to finish things out.

Tom Schreiber kept the ball moving, finding 4 helpers, but after 12 shots on goal, he only connected once. They’re on the road for the next 4 out of 5 games, twice in the West. For the most part, they’re playing desperate teams. This should be an opportunity to fine tune things and prepare the rookies for what postseason NLL looks like.

2. Georgia Swarm (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Georgia Swarm Toronto Rock Photo: Paul Sasso
Photo: Paul Sasso

Record: 8-4
Weekend Result: Loss to Toronto, 11-12 OT
Next Game: vs. Colorado – Saturday, March 1st, 7:05pm ET
Goals: Lyle Thompson – 28 (T-th)
Assists: Lyle Thompson – 45 (6th)
Points: Lyle Thompson – 73 (6th)

Ryan Conwell

Georgia really has benefitted from the return of their nearly full lineup. For example: Joel White showed his value on a superb shorthand goal where he used his sound defense and breakaway speed to put one away on the man down. The reigning Transition Player of the Year will do that. What’s interesting now is Georgia and Toronto only play each other twice, with each winning a game. Their records are so close that there may be some complicated tiebreaker scenarios coming down the line.

Mark Donahue

It was 11-8 and things were looking just fine for the first 45 minutes and 54 seconds. Randy Staats (4+1) was killing it all game long. Mike Poulin (80%) was in a good groove after a slow for quarter for everyone. Defensive rookie Connor Sellars found his 3rd goal of the season. Back in the lineup, even Joel White (1+0) rang up a goal and grabbed 10 loose balls. But the effort wasn’t there for all 60 minutes and that final 14 minutes was heartbreaking.

In OT, they put the ball in Lyle’s stick and no one else touched it. Problem was Lyle was scoreless and Rose is a big time goalie. He took an over-hander from the high slot and it was sniffed out, picked up and timeout was called. Crepinsek got burned and they were toasted on right off the restart. They can afford to lose this game. The full lineup is together now, for the most part. Time to dial it in and make that championship run. This weekend with Colorado may come as their biggest test, followed by a struggle with New England. Then it’s two games each with the New Yorkers and right now that’s looking good for Georgia to prepare for playoffs.

1. Saskatchewan Rush (0)

NLL Media Poll 2017 Calgary Roughnecks Saskatchewan Rush Photo: Josh Schaefer
Photo: Josh Schaefer

Record: 8-4
Weekend Result: Win over Calgary, 13-10; Loss to Colorado, 11-14
Next Game: @ Buffalo – Saturday, April 1st, 7:30pm ET
Goals: Robert Church – 29 (6th)
Assists: Mark Matthews – 53 (1st)
Points: Mark Matthews – 79 (3rd)

Ryan Conwell

The Rush had a solid showing to start the weekend by taking down the Roughnecks at home before heading down to Colorado to see the Mammoth. This was actually the first time all season that the Rush have played two games in a weekend, so while conventional wisdom suggests the team with two games tends to do well, that may have factored in against the Rush. This is pretty late in the season to pull this for the first time and with two divisional games? Not a great combo.

Mark Donahue

I can live with this. They punched in 4 goals in each of the first two quarters against Calgary. Then things really slowed down. An illegal sub on the breakaway got them a penalty shot and Mark Matthews (2+4) missed the net. No biggie, but not much else really happened. The defense got in a scoring groove early and Aaron Bold was stopping over 81% of what was thrown at him. For the Colorado game, they didn’t have much of an answer for Jeremy Noble (4+3), Callum Crawford (3+3), or their former teammate, Zack Greer (3+3).

Boldy stayed in the entire game and we definitely didn’t see the same game. He made 7 saves and let 7 in over their 2nd quarter breakdown. They returned the favor against Ward in the next frame and made it 10-10 going into the 4th. Mathew Dinsdale scored right away making things look promising, the Mammoth hammered in four straight goals to seal it. I’ll call it a fluke, but they could have clenched if they would have finished the game. I think they’ll be the first-in, so I’m keeping them at #1.

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NLL Media Poll #9

Rank/Team/Previous

1. Saskatchewan (1)
2. Georgia (2)
3. Toronto (3)
4. Colorado (4)
5. New England (5)
6. Vancouver (6)
7. Rochester (9)
8. Calgary (8)
9. Buffalo (7)

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NLL Media Poll Votes

Voters Ryan Conwell (LAS) Mark Donahue (LAS) Tyson Geick (NLL) Inside Lacrosse
1 Toronto Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Saskatchewan
2 Georgia Toronto Colorado Georgia
3 Colorado Georgia Toronto Colorado
4 Saskatchewan Colorado Georgia Toronto
5 Calgary New England New England New England
6 Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver Rochester
7 New England Rochester Rochester Buffalo
8 Rochester Buffalo Buffalo Calgary
9 Buffalo Calgary Calgary Vancouver

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Agree? Disagree? Feel impartial to our media poll rankings and opinions? Let you voice be heard and sound off in the comments down below!