With the NLL Playoffs starting this weekend, we can throw regular season records and stats out the window. It’s a brand new season for all 8 teams involved, and every team believes they are about to go on a playoff run and win the NLL Cup. Here is the aspect each team needs to accomplish if they want to hoist some hardware when it’s all said and done.
Albany Firewolves: Keep Playing Suffocating Defense
Albany has been in playoff mode for the last three weeks going 3-0 and clinching a playoff spot. While their offense has been a huge part of their recent success, it has been their defense that has truly led the charge, allowing only 21 goals the past 3 weeks. If the Firewolves want to deliver a title to the city of Albany in their first season back, they will need to continue their defensive prowess against the rest of the playoff field.
Buffalo Bandits: Dhane Smith Needs to Continue His Record Setting MVP Season
Yes, the Bandits offense is a juggernaut, and after setting the NLL regular season record with 94 assists, Dhane is officially the man leading the offense in Buffalo. Not only is he leading the league in helpers, but he is the Buffalo leading scorer with 41 goals this season. Sure Josh Byrne had a great season too, but if Buffalo wants to get over the hump and forget about the heartbreak of the 2019 season, they need Smith to continue on his historic tear through the playoffs.
Calgary Roughnecks: Keep Proving the Doubters Wrong
While it may seem like ages ago, Calgary are still the defending champs. They have been doubted since the start of the season. After losing key pieces from their championship team and starting the season 1-4, there were many who questioned whether Calgary would even make the playoffs. But after going 9-4 the rest of the way, the Roughnecks are the second seed in the Western Division. With other teams being picked as favorites to win the title, if Calgary wants to successfully defend their title they need to continue playing with that chip on their shoulder.
Colorado Mammoth: Zeddy Comes to Play
If the Mammoth want to see themselves holding up the cup in June, they need some playoff heroics from Zed Williams. While he hasn’t had a huge offensive season this year with the Mammoth, Williams has shown he can be a gamechanger in the playoffs. If he can channel some of his 2020 PLL bubble magic, and become the third scoring option for the Mammoth, they might just stomp the rest of the competition and bring the NLL cup back to the Mile High City.
Halifax Thunderbirds: Score Double Digit Goals
Halifax is 0-5 when held to under 10 goals this season, they are 11-2 when scoring 10 or more (with their only losses coming to Buffalo). If the offense can get going, Halifax can play with anyone in the league, but if teams can keep the Thunderbird’s offense in check, they have basically won the game. Halifax was the North’s top team before COVID-19 shut down the 2020 season. Even with their struggles offensively, they are still one of the league’s best when the offense is clicking, and with every game being so important, they cant afford to have a bad offensive game if they want to end the season as champions.
Philadelphia: Keep Grinding and Finding Ways to Win
Lets be honest, the Wings are definitely the surprise of the playoffs. A few weeks ago, no one thought the Wings would be in the playoffs, but here they are. They are not the flashiest team, and honestly, they haven’t been the most entertaining team to watch. But as we saw last week, all you need to do is find ways to win, even when your back is against the wall. If Philadelphia can continue to grind out playoff games and find ways to win, they could shock the world and bring a NLL Championship to the City of Brotherly Love.
San Diego: Which Frank Scigliano Shows Up?
The Seals have had a rollercoaster of a season, after starting the year 9-2, they went on a six game losing streak, only to win in the final week of the season and clinch the No.1 seed in the Western Division. Their season could be summed up by Frank Sciglianos play. When Scigliano is playing well, the Seals, win, but when he is playing poorly, the Seals can’t seem to overcome it. If San Diego wants to bring a title to the championship starved fans of Americas finest city, then Scigliano needs to be on his A game.
Toronto Rock: Keep Your Opponent Under Ten Goals
Its pretty simple for Nick Rose and the Rock this postseason. Hold your opponent to 10 or fewer goals. The Rock were a perfect 13-0 this season when holding opponents to 10 goals or fewer, but were 0-5 when opponents scored 11 or more. While the Rock have offensive weapons, including Tom Schreiber and ageless Dan Dawson, it is their defense and goaltending that have led the charge all season. For Toronto to bring the cup back home (I mean Hamilton) they will need to keep opposing offenses in check throughout the NLL Playoffs.