Only six teams are slated to do battle this weekend, but hot-damn they are going to be some great games. Remember last week? There were some HUGE plays!
Rochester takes a trip down I-90 to face their cross state rivals, the Buffalo Bandits. Rochester handled the Rock last weekend and made it look easy. Rochester continues to get solid play from their big time stars, especially Matt Vinc in net. Stephen Keogh finished with 4 points and it looks as if he is playing like he did his rookie year – An absolute spark-plug on offense to compliment Jammer.
Buffalo has turned what looked to be another dismal season for Buffalo fans into legitimate contenders. They easily beat a struggling Colorado team, but the plus side is that Dhane Smith stakes claim for the entire floor each game. One of the biggest and fastest players on the floor, he is pure entertainment and makes me wonder what could have been had he chosen to play NCAA ball. John Tarvares is said to have tweaked a leg muscle which puts a giant question mark on his status for this weekend.
Colorado is a team searching for any glimmer of hope they can. They face a beatable Calgary team this weekend. They narrowly lost to Vancouver and dropped a must-win to Buffalo in their past two games. A leaky defense and inconsistent goalie play has been the Mammoth’s Achilles heel. Is this the week they crawl back into the picture? Hard to deny the play of Adam Jones, he is developing into one of the best offensive players in the league.
Calgary on the other hand has been fighting and scraping all season to be in the picture. After getting demolished by Edmonton two weeks ago they came out and made a statement against Vancouver. Calgary has so much offensive firepower I scratch my head and wonder why they aren’t sitting atop the standings. They have tremendous transition play through the middle with Snider and rookies Garret McIntosh and Karsen Leung. If Calgary can put all their ducks in a row, they will continue to dominate as they have done is years past.
Edmonton and Vancouver will no doubt be a nail-biter of a game.
Edmonton is playing with a chip on their shoulder – making the playoffs for two consecutive years but falling short both times. Could this be the year they hoist the Champions Cup? Their defense is one of the best in the league, and has been for a few years now. Their offense is getting stronger and stronger each game. Mark Matthews and Curtis Knight dominate each game, and players like Zack Greer are finally coming into their own and developing that consistent scoring touch. Arron Bold is doing his best brick wall impression and is trying to convince the NLL that there is another goalie besides Matt Vinc. Kyle Rubisch has been the leader of the defensive group game in and game out even though his stats have slipped. I wouldn’t worry he is still just as dangerous as ever.
Vancouver looks great and I always believe they are going to win, until the last minute – just like Lucy and Charlie Brown, the football is taken away and they fall flat on their back. They lost a one-goal game to Calgary last weekend, and a few weeks back dropped a heart-breaker to Colorado. The Stealth have been bit by the injury bug and some of their key defenders are on IR. Rookie Tyler Digby continues to have the hot hand on offense, and is well worth the first round pick investment. He is a big body that sets hard picks and drives to the net and forces his own hand. Vancouver is the team that can start piling up wins and make a run for the playoffs, and they are trying to get ahead of the game early.
Rochester Knighthawks @ Buffalo Bandits
Mark Donahue – Buffalo over Rochester – Just to break the streak I picked Buffalo, both teams are very impressive and I’m enjoying following them. I think, just maybe, Buffalo can secure a win at home in the Battle of New York!
Chris Rosenthall – Rochester over Buffalo – This is the toughest call of the week. I like the Knighthawks, but I’ll like them even more when I see a 15-goal performance or two. The defense has to have an off night at some point, right? I think it’s going to be a close one, but I’m taking Rochester until they lose. Or maybe next week against the Rush.
Ryan Connors – Rochester over Buffalo – Again, Buffalo has been playing well, but the Knighthawks are a team on a mission. Playing in the First Niagara center is going to be a challenge, but Knighthawks defense are getting into lanes and smothering the opposition.
Connor Wilson – Rochester over Buffalo – Knighthawks are too solid at both ends of the floor right now. They control games and win them.
Colorado Mammoth @ Calgary Roughnecks
Mark Donahue – Calgary over Colorado – Well I’d love to be different here, but other than JGJ, Jones, and Westervelt, is anyone doing anything on Colorado? Please, at least hit double digits this week! I guess the goaltending woes haven’t been solved yet.
Chris Rosenthall – Calgary over Colorado – It’s not so much the four consecutive losses that made me finally stop picking Colorado, it’s the single-digit performances in two of their last three games. I’m picking Calgary, congrats in advance to the Mammoth
Ryan Connors – Calgary Roughnecks – Well Colorado, you had your chance and you blew it…this is why we can’t have nice things. I thought Colorado was going to put all the pieces of the puzzle together but the failed to do that. They continually leave their goalies out to dry and that isn’t going to win games in this NLL.
Connor Wilson – Calgary over Colorado – Colorado needs wins, but Calgary is flying at times, and I think they’ll bring it here.
Edmonton Rush @ Vancouver Stealth
Mark Donahue – Edmonton over Vancouver – The Rush are SCARY! I love watching those guys. Even though the Langley Events Centre will be poppin’, I have to take the boys from Edmonton again this weekend.
Chris Rosenthall – Edmonton over Vancouver – Have you seen what Edmonton’s doing to their opponents this season? Sorry Stealth, ain’t happening.￼
Ryan Connors – Edmonton Over Vancouver – I really want to pick Vancouver in this one – it has all the makings for a great upset. However, Edmonton’s defense is top-notch and Vancouver’s defense has been sub-par. The Stealth have been bailed out by outstanding play from Tyler Richards.
Connor Wilson – Edmonton over Vancouver – Strong defense allows Mathews to distribute
and run the show with little concern for mistakes. It’s risky if it
doesn’t go your way, but it’s paying off big time right now.
This week was tough for me. My two big scorers, Buchanan and Leblanc, are on a bye this week and I struggled to find someone to replace them. I went with the rookie Riley Lowen. He has been playing well and if he can chip in a goal and a few assists I believe he is worth it. I also splurged and went with big ol’ Westy from Colorado. He finds way to score and he is finally getting into a rhythm with his new team. I also spent 10 doll-hairs on defender Steve Priolo, easily the most I’ve ever spent on a defender. But if he has the hot hand, why not.
Correct Picks Running Tally:
Connor Wilson (11-7)
Chris Rosenthall (11-7)
Mark Donahue (11-7)
Ryan Connors (11-7)