NLL Media Poll – Numero Uno

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Saskatchewan Rush Toronto Rock 2017 NLL Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

Welcome to the first NLL Media Poll, of quite a few in 2017. We got fed up with lacrosse’s lack of polls that tie together multiple media sources, so we made one ourselves.

Those Pesky Voters

So who gets a vote? First, we do! Because we can, and we really care, LaxAllStars.com gets two votes! East Divison-focused Ryan Conwell and Mark “West is Best” Donahue will tag-team the meat of these articles and will each have their own votes.

What would a media poll be without the say of the crew at IL Indoor? Obviously they get a vote and we’re also giving one to the computer-generated rankings from Lax Power. Why? Because they only make sense on paper and always seem a little out there! Why not round out the group with a computer?!

How’s This Work?

We waited until each team got a couple of games under their belts before trying to reflect on their performances. Now that we’ve had time to differentiate between fact and fluke, we can fairly assess the teams.

If anyone else gets a say, we’ll let you know! But we’re open to adding more knowledgeable lacrosse aficionados to help make this a well-rounded NLL Poll!

NLL Poll #1

Rank/Team/Number of Votes

  1. Toronto – 32
  2. Georgia – 31
  3. Vancouver – 30
  4. Calgary – 24
  5. Colorado – 19
  6. Rochester – 17
  7. Saskatchewan – 11
  8. Buffalo – 9
  9. New England – 7

Toronto Rock (2-0)

Toronto Rock 2017 NLL Photo: Graig Abel
Photo: Graig Abel

How the tables have turned. We were under the impression that their big #FaceoffWknd win was a bit of “beginner’s luck.” We be very impressionable and also very wrong. Last year’s bottom rung in the East Division is now atop the NLL and get a week off to think about their accomplishment.

The Rock played almost the same game this time out like they did in Rochester during Week 1. They look to use the break to their advantage and push transition, stuff Americans and fresh-legged rookies capitalize on.

Brodie Merrill is the perfect player to lead this team and direct the younger players. We thought the Rochester game was a lucky fluke. It was not.

Their offense is as experimental as it gets right now and if it isn’t broken, we beg the Rock not to change it. The rookie class is phenomenal and they just manhandled the defending champs last weekend for the whole first half.

Rookie American Tom Schreiber is tied with Kasey Beirnes leading the team in points (8), Bradley Kri is cleaning up on draws (.675) and Nick Rose entered 2017 with a head full of momentum from last year’s success and now rocking a damn good save percentage (.828) over two games. These guys are making a huge difference, but not carrying the team. We can’t wait for more.

They’ll hit the floor next weekend for a rematch with the Knighthawks. If Georgia wins big, they could jump Toronto but we still like the boys in blue at #1.

Georgia Swarm (2-0)

Georgia Swarm Buffalo Bandits NLL 2016 Photo: Bill Whippert
Photo: Bill Whippert

Another team that struggled to find footing in 2016 is fighting for the NLL’s top spot. We saw so much production from the freshmen and sophomores last season that it should be pretty obvious why there’s success.

These guys have even more time to gel under their belts, but it’s not just the scorers doing what they do best. The defense is getting their act together, Mike Poulin has been a savior in the crease and Jordan McIntosh is really leading by example. The biggest addition to the team has to be Jordan Hall, absolutely grinding away for his squad. If they come out hot against New England on Friday and finish strong, they might just steal that #1 spot.

Vancouver Stealth (2-1)

Vancouver Stealth 2017 NLL Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

“These guys came out firing and have already picked up 40% of last year’s wins and half of their road wins. Rhys Duch and Corey Small are firing on all cylinders after taking on bigger roles within the team. Goaltending from Tyler Richards kept them ahead in their first two games, but after struggling in Game 3 he was followed up with an impressive stand from Tye Belanger.

In Game 3 they had a setback, but that was expected facing the fully-loaded Roughnecks the second time around. We still like the look of this team, especially with Belanger in net. He looks even better than he was as Goalie of the Year Evan Kirk’s backup in New England a season ago.

Keegan Bal did well at the draw circle last week but will be replaced by Brendan Fowler back from a weekend with Team USA. This team relies on hot ball movement and maximizing possessions, not run and gun.

They’ve been doing some experimental stuff with their lineup and we’ve never seen the same squad twice. They go against Buffalo tomorrow night and the Bandits really have something to prove. It’s a test they must come ready for!

Calgary Roughnecks (1-1)

Calgary Roughnecks Vancouver Stealth 2017 NLL Photo: Garrett James
Photo: Garrett James

The Riggers needed their whole team back and looked much better the second time out. As per usual, Curtis Dickson still finds ways to really amaze. We have very high expectations for this club every year, and this season is no different.

Digby, Dobbie, Berg and Shattler are putting up legitimate numbers. Yet, since the offense is fairly shallow, the top five carry a lot of weight to but the ball into the net.

They fell into the chippy play too much, which is not something they can do too often. They need every win and giving up goals when man down will just be giving more room to the rest of their division. With Vancouver on the rise, there are no gimmes out west.

We saw Christian Del Bianco get picked apart in his first start, showing there’s a falloff if Frankie Scigliano isn’t between the pipes. They need to stay away from the sin bin and keep the focus on settled 5 on 5 offense where they can find real success. They have big bodies and bigger scorers, time to start running the table.

Colorado Mammoth (2-1)

Colorado Mammoth New England Black Wolves 2017 NLL Photo: Jack Dempsey
Photo: Jack Dempsey

It happens, but not having Junior on the floor just looked weird for the Mammoth. Callum Crawford is picking up where he left off last season and starting to fill that senior quarterbacking role. Crawford’s career is being reborn out west and it’s refreshing to see. Zack Greer is fitting in nicely with his new team and bringing a much more well-round skill set to the offense.

We are getting a great effort from the transition team, but the lack of long possessions is putting too much stress on the other side of the floor.

Sure he’s playing well, but Dillon Ward is seeing way too many shots. The guy is a star, let’s not make him be the only line of defense. They get Calgary tonight and could really use the West Division win to buy back some respect and keep their western rivals in check.

Rochester Knighthawks (1-1)

Rochester Knighthawks New England Black Wolves NLL 2017 photo Micheline V
Photo: Micheline V / Rochester Knighthawks

The Knighthawks were idle this week, but a third game will tell us so much more. They get the defending champs next, and those guys are going to be chomping at the bit to finally get another W under their belts after a rough 0-2 start.

We hated their lefties in game one. They couldn’t finish, had trouble with basics and weren’t working as a unit. That was the total opposite from game two. Game three will help us figure out where their O stands still without Jammer and Vitarelli.

Buffalo Bandits (0-2)

Not having Dhane Smith really hurts their chances. He was their offense last year. As good as everyone else is on that unit, they’re going to have to play differently without him. That may be a good thing, but it may lead to confusion on the floor. Either way, we had to bring them back a few notches for now.

Cosmo is having another rough start to the season and the defense is just okay. There’s serious fight in Alex Kedoh Hill, hopefully some of the effort becomes contageous. We will find out what’s in the tank when the play Vancouver tomorrow, a club desperately trying to stay above .500 but prone to falling short of their goals.

Saskatchewan Rush (0-2)

This is the worst we’ve seen the Rush in years. They have been the most consistent team for a few seasons now. Even when they’re bad, they’re good. But things are not in order right now.

They have a few rookies that are being worked in, so we’ll see how Coach Keenan handles this. Ww expect them to turn around, but we can’t have them too high right now based solely on potential. Heck, they won it all two years ago after starting 0-2 so what does this even mean?!

New England Black Wolves (0-2)

Speaking of bad and under performing. The Black Wolves reloaded for a title run this offseason, but it just hasn’t come together yet. They imploded against Rochester and almost had a win in Colorado. They had a chance for the winning shot in overtime, but it just didn’t happen.

Like the Rush, we do not expect the Black Wolves to hang down here too long. Somebody has to be last, and right now it’s them.