Call it the Swarm Effect perhaps, but it just feels like scoring is up in the National Lacrosse League early in the 2017 season. Back-to-back 18-goal games by Georgia, especially considering the second one was 18-14, make it appear that there’s a rise in the goals per game rate. In fact, though, scoring through 10 games across the league is actually about half a goal per game down from last year’s full season average (23.6 this year vs 24.2 in 2016).
One upshot of the reality of normal or even slightly depressed scoring is that the big individual scoring performances look even better. So don’t look for a lot of goalies or defenders in this week’s IL Indoor NLL 3 Stars; we’re heavy on the shooters for Week 3. Specifically, it’s the week of the righty forward.
Curtis Dickson, Calgary Roughnecks
6 goals, 1 assist
Dickson was back to his old self in Calgary’s revenge win over the Stealth, scoring at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded. It’s not that Superman was bad in the Roughnecks’ opener, scoring a goal and adding 4 assists, but Calgary fans have gotten pretty used to him putting the ball in the net with regularity. With his sock trick Saturday, Dickson got himself on early pace to hit the 60-goal mark again. Nobody has ever done that twice and Dhane Smith’s injury last week puts a serious crimp in his chances of getting there. It’s never easy to score that many goals, but Dickson at least still has a shot at history.
Callum Crawford, Colorado Mammoth
4 goals, 4 assists
Four goals, three first assists and a hand in the overtime winner. In total, 8 points on his team’s 11 goals. For anyone expecting Crawford to slow down in his second season with the Mammoth, it certainly isn’t happening yet. With John Grant Jr. out, Crawford is the leading man; you know he’d like to help his team get more than 10 regulation-time goals, but everyone in Denver will take the win against a good New England team that was desperate to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.
Lyle Thompson, Georgia Swarm
2 goals, 6 assists
It’s a good indication of how huge the hype about Thompson’s arrival in the NLL was that his 60-point rookie season was seen by many as disappointing. Now, I’m not expecting that he’s going to put up 8 points every game, as he has in each of Georgia’s two wins so far, but Lyle is certainly looking more comfortable this year. Lyle is also helping his brother Hiana rediscover the promise he flashed in his rookie year of 2015 with the Bandits.
Bradley Kri (Toronto): 1g, 2a, 18/25 on faceoffs. The Rock’s transition game has been the key to their success in their two early wins and Kri played a big role in it on Saturday. Dominating the faceoff spot against Jeremy Thompson helped put the Rock in a position to succeed as well…Brad Self (Buffalo): 2g, 1a, 9LB, 2CTO. While getting traded from Rochester must have been a shock at first, Self landed with a team where the reigning transition player of the year’s skill set is a perfect fit. The Bandits love to run and there aren’t many better at it than Self…Corey Small (Vancouver): 4g. The Silent Assassin strikes again, continuing to find the net with regularity…Kevin Crowley (New England): 3g, 3a. Crowley was on his game from the start, burying a pure overhand rip from the top of the power play to open the scoring…Eli McLaughlin (Colorado): 2g,2a. With Grant out, McLaughlin could have been forgiven for letting it fly early and often to try to take up the slack. That’s not his style, though. Eli prefers to keep the ball moving and take his shots when he’s feeling it, evidenced by the fact he still only shot 8 times in regulation. His 9th, of course, was the OT winner…Scott Carnegie (Calgary): 5CTO. Carnegie could appear in this space many weeks because he’s a consistently solid defender who’s just tough to play against. Throw in leading the league in Week 3 by causing 5 turnovers and he’s a shoo-in…Tom Schreiber (Toronto): 1g, 4a. Got his first goal out of the way and continues to show patience and vision in tight quarters…Mark Matthews (Saskatchewan): 2g, 5a. Had a goal and set up Chris Corbeil for one in the first half to keep the Rush from getting shut out, the added 5 more points as they almost overcame the 8-2 half time deficit to Toronto…Ryan Benesch (Buffalo): 3g, 4a. The Bandits really need Benesch to be in rhythm if Dhane Smith is going to be out for any length of time. He’s doing his part so far…Mitch McMichael (New England): 8LB, 3CTO. Gets traded literally from coast to coast, is placed on the practice roster then gets the call to step into an active role in Denver. No problem, says McMichael, who comes through with a sound effort for the Wolves…Jordan Hall and Hiana Thompson (Georgia): 2g, 4a each. Hall was a known commodity when he was brought in to fill Jesse King’s role and he’s fit in smoothly. Thompson had played only 15 games and never got on the floor after coming over from Buffalo last year, but he’s been a great fit so far as well…Robert Hope (New England): 7LB, 3CTO. There’s always room in my 3 Stars column for defenders like Hope who just keep doing a great job every week, and he was back to his usual effective self after a so-so opening game. Off nights are rare for Hope, who has become one of the very best defenders in the league…Robert Church (Saskatchewan): 3g, 2a. Speaking of guys who just come and perform every night, Church is a great example on the offensive end of the floor…Rhys Duch (Vancouver): 2g, 5a. It almost feels like I should just mention Duch when he isn’t among the players for this column, because he just keeps producing every week. What a consistently excellent player he’s become.