I think it is safe to say that there are going to be some great games this NLL season. Hopefully, with the extra exposure on TSN combined with The Lacrosse Network, Altitude and ESPN3 the NLL can attract new viewers and fans. Just like week one, there were two great games this past weekend. Toronto managed to hold off Calgary and Colorado made a memorable comeback to beat Vancouver.
Toronto jumped out to a 7-3 lead over Calgary and never looked back. Led by Stephan Leblanc and Garrett Billings, Toronto put up 16 goals on Calgary and goalie Mike Poulin. Toronto looked solid from top to bottom. Nick Rose made 40 stops in the win and rookie Ethan O’Connor played like a veteran. Defender Pat Merrill didn’t dress and it was announced this week that Toronto placed Merrill on IR.
Every time Calgary attempted to make a comeback it was smothered by the Rock. Jeff Shattler and Shawn Evans were the scoring leaders for Calgary. Garrett McIntosh was another rookie that played well, and Calgary has to like what they see in the young defender. Colorado managed to mount a comeback that will be remembered throughout the rest of the season. Vancouver’s high-power offense was spread out evenly with 6 different players finding the back of the net. Alex Gajic caused havoc in the offensive end and freed up his teammates for open shots. Tyler Digby finished with 3 goals and 6 points.
Once again, Tye Belanger was pulled and replaced by rookie Dillon Ward after only 20 minutes of play. In my opinion, there shouldn’t be a goalie controversy in Colorado. Dillon Ward has played well in the 2 games he has appeared in. He was instrumental in the win last weekend, making 30 saves and only letting in 8 goals. Ward should be the starter and Belanger should use his experience to teach Ward – sometimes players have to make personal sacrifices for the team.
Toronto Rock @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Toronto over Buffalo: This was an uncomfortable pick, I really like both squads, I think the Rock forwards will have an easier time with the Bandits D; Anthony Cosmo needs a big game. If the Buffalo D steps up they can take this one just as easy.
Chris Rosenthall – Toronto over Buffalo: I liked what I saw last week from the Rock, and much less so from the Bandits. Toronto’s defense gets the job done in Buffalo.
Ryan Connors – Toronto over Buffalo: The Rock have played well and they are producing on offense. Not many changes from last year’s roster – when they had the best record in the league.
Connor Wilson – Toronto over Buffalo: Toronto looks cohesive, moves the ball well. Buffalo is dangerous, but I think the Rock are a little more together right now.
Colorado Mammoth @ Calgary Roughnecks
Mark Donahue – Colorado over Calgary: I had to pick one game for the Mammoth to win on their road trip to Canada. Calgary looks really strong but not perfect, the Mammoth are on their 3rd game and if they can carry momentum from game 2 they will be in great shape.
Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Colorado: Does Belanger start? Does he finish? Calgary’s offense cashes in while the Mammoth continue to figure out their goalie situation.
Ryan Connors – Calgary over Colorado: This game is very hard to pick. Colorado managed to fight to a win last weekend and if they straighten their goalie situation out, they are a completely different and dangerous team.
Connor Wilson – Colorado over Calgary: Colorado is the most unpredictable team ever, and it makes them predictable at times. Will they zing a nonsensical pass inside? Sure thing. Calgary is no-nonsense. Tight game the Mammoth take on the road. Mammoth have a better transition game than I thought.
Philadelphia Wings @ Rochester Knighthawks
Mark Donahue – Rochester over Philly: Knighthawks should make another big run. Matt Vinc is darn near perfect. Philly is going to struggle and it’s very hard to get a win in Rochester for a road team.
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Philly: The Wings looked better than expected in their opener, but scoring won’t be so easy against the Knighthawks D.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Philly: Real close one here, but Rochester is playing like a team on a mission. They will be prepared for Philly. K-Hawks will expose Philly’s young-American defense.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Philly – Rochester’s defense is top notch, and I think the Wings could come back to Earth a bit in terms of production this week. Rochester is an offensive juggernaut in wait… do they break out in week 2? It doesn’t matter.
Colorado Mammoth @ Edmonton Rush
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Colorado: Rematch of game one, this time in Edmonton. I think the Rush take this one again. They both know what to prepare for but the Mammoth are on a road trip and will be coming off a game with the Roughnecks. I like the advantage that the Rush get at home.
Chris Rosenthall – Colorado over Edmonton: The Rush won their first meeting, but increased contributions from Drew Westervelt & Dillon Ward could prove to be the difference this time.
Ryan Connors – Edmonton over Colorado: Game is literally a toss-up, can’t tell who has the edge. Colorado is a different team that week one, but they have a long road trip.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Colorado – Edmonton at home, Colorado playing back to back games up North. Am I really basing my pick on that? Don’t punish me Rush.
Minnesota Swarm @ Vancouver Stealth
Mark Donahue – Swarm over Stealth: This is the most nerve racking pick I made. Although it seems the whole Stealth roster is from BC, a good majority of the Swarm are too. This gives added incentive to all local players to impress friends and family. Many players can go home or relax when they are in town so even though it’s the first game at home for Vancouver, I think the Swarm’s youth will push strong through the final buzzer. I’ve got this one circled.
Chris Rosenthall – Vancouver over Minnesota: After only one game (especially against Matt Vinc and the Knighthawks), it’s tough to tell if Minnesota’s offense needs work. I’ve got to go with the Stealth in their home debut, and wait for the Swarm to prove what they can do.
Ryan Connors – Swarm over Stealth: Again, another toss-up game. Both very fast and very skilled teams. Honestly, I’m picking Swarm just because I love watching them play.
Connor Wilson – Vancouver over Minnesota – I like this young Minny team, but my concern is the Vancouver offense. These guys were looking pretty solid at times in week 2, and I think they could pulls some crafty veteran moves on Saturday.
Buffalo Bandits @ Philadelphia Wings
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Wings: Big game at home for the Wings, and it’s at the end of #LaxCon so attendance should be up. I just don’t see them clicking in time to get past a strong roster like Buffalo. I’m impressed by Buffalo so far, like I said earlier it was so hard to pick the Rock over them. This can be one of the road wins the Bandits need to get early. If the crowd shows up and rallies behind the home team, I could see the Wings getting a W, but realistically the Bandits should be able to take this one on the road.
Chris Rosenthall – Philly over Buffalo. If I recall correctly, the wings had this same setup last year (playing two games in two nights during convention weekend). I assumed they’d lose the second game because they were too tired, and they did not. This year I’m giving their cardio a bit more credit, not to mention the fact that Buffalo gave up 17 goals when these two met in week one.
Ryan Connors – Philadelphia over Buffalo: It is hard to see Buffalo losing two games in a row, but then again it is even harder to see Philadelphia lose two in a row.
Connor Wilson – Philadelphia over Buffalo: In my predictive world, Buffalo is having a rough weekend. Philly’s young guns have impressed, and new faces seem to be gelling nicely. If guys like Buchanan and Ranagan can continue to break out, watch out NLL.
I had a surprisingly solid fantasy week amassing 117 points. Once again, I played a player that didn’t play last weekend. This time it was Pat Merrill, but I was unaware of his injury. I started Stephan Leblanc and he was my big scorer this weekend. My sleeper pick Alex Gajic scored 20 points, which was more than I could hope for. I decided to keep both players starting this week. I always tend to ride the hot players until they stop giving me results.
Chris Rosenthall had a good week as well. Chris started John Grant Jr. and Tyler Digby on offense and they scored him a combined 36 points. Fantasy tip for all those of you new to NLL Fantasy, rookie players are usually a steal early on.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (2-3)
Chris Rosenthall (4-1)
Mark Donahue (3-2)
Ryan Connors (3-2)