The Week 9 outlook for the National Lacrosse League is extremely kind for lacrosse junkies.
Why? It’s not very often we get games spread out over 3 days, but that’s exactly what’s going down this weekend, which kicks off with the Bandits in Saskatoon on Friday night and wraps up with a pair of Sunday games.
It’s shaping up to be an interesting weekend, for sure. Can the high-powered Buffalo offense solve the Rush defense? Can Toronto keep the momentum rolling after getting its first win of the season? And how will that New England defense handle the Georgia offense?
It’s enough to make you want the opening whistle to sound right now, but as it is, we only have to wait a few more hours. Which leaves us just enough time to check out the Team Reports for Week 9.
Buffalo (4-4) at Saskatchewan (4-2), 8:30 p.m.
The Bandits have lost 2 straight … These teams are meeting for just the seventh time ever and the Rush hold a 4-2 all-time record against Buffalo, including 3-1 at home … The Bandits are averaging 13.3 goals per game, second-most in the NLL … F Dhane Smith is absolutely destroying the NLL, leading the league in scoring with 68 points (29-39). The next closest player is 19 points behind. Smith has scored 8 or more points, including games of 13 and 10, in 6 of 8 games and he’s on pace for a 153-point season … G Anthony Cosmo made 44 saves in Saturday’s home loss to Georgia to become the NLL’s all-time leader in saves (6,471, Bob Watson) and now has 6,475 for his career … F Ryan Benesch has scored 2 or more goals in each of his 7 games this season … The Buffalo D has allowed 47 goals (an average of 15 per) in the last 3 games … Buffalo’s penalty kill was 5-for-14 in the weekend losses and remains at the top of the league for killing 65.8% of 38 chances this season.
The Rush have won 3 of their last 4, including a Feb. 19 home win over Rochester … The Rush D has held its last 2 opponents to single digits after a 3-game stretch of allowing 11.6 per … G Aaron Bold leads the NLL with a 9.85 goals-against but his .757 save percentage ranks fifth-best … For overall defense, the Rush lead the NLL with just 10 goals-against per game … D Chris Corbeil is the league’s top scoring defenseman with 9 points (6-3) in 6 games … After scoring no fewer than 6 points in each of his first 4 games, F Mark Matthews has 3 and 4 in each of his last 2 … F Robert Church has hat tricks in 2 of his last 3 games … After scoring 6 goals in his first 4 games, F Ben McIntosh has 1 goal in his last 2 games … The Rush power play is ranked at No. 8 overall, converting just 45.5% (15-for-33).
Vancouver (3-4) at Colorado (6-2), 5 p.m.
This is the 39th meeting between these franchises but just the eighth with the Stealth in Langley … The Stealth lead the all-time series, 24-15, but Vancouver is 1-1 all-time in Colorado … Vancouver’s power play is No. 1 in the NLL at 60.6%, although the 33 chances are third-fewest in the league … Still, the 20 power-play goals the Stealth have scored are third-most in the NLL … Fs Rhys Duch (7) and Logan Schuss (5) have scored 12 of the team’s 20 power-play goals … The Stealth have scored just 1 short-handed goal, tied with Rochester for lowest total in the league … Schuss has scored 8 or more points in 4 straight games. He’s got 36 points in his last 4 games after scoring 9 in his first 3 … G Tyler Richards is officially back, getting the Feb. 20 win over Calgary with 31 saves on 40 shots … The Stealth have outshot 6 of their 8 opponents this season and they’re 2-4 in those games.
The 6-2 start is Colorado’s best since it was 7-1 in 2012 … The Mammoth are a league-best 2-0 in 1-goal games … The Mammoth lead the league with 8 short-handed goals scored and they’ve also allowed just 2 shorties, best in the league … At 55.9%, the Colorado penalty kill is No. 2 in the NLL … The Mammoth are 3-0 at home, the only team in the NLL that is unbeaten at home … Colorado plays 3 of its next 4 at home … F Callum Crawford is second in the league in scoring with 49 points (15-34) … Crawford scored 3 goals in the Feb. 13 win after scoring 3 goals in his previous 3 games combined … F John Grant has 3 goals in his last 3 games after scoring 10 in the 3 prior to that. Still, he’s on pace for a 96-point season, which would be his fifth straight season of 90 or more points … D Robert Hope continues to lead the team with 64 loose balls … D Greg Downing leads the team with 20 caused turnovers … The Mammoth are a league-best 3-1 when trailing after 1 quarter.
Rochester (3-3) at Toronto (1-6), 7 p.m.
This is the golden anniversary of the rivalry as these teams meet for the 50th time. Rochester has a 29-20 all-time lead in the series, including a pair of wins earlier this season by a combined 24-12 … The Knighthawks have lost 2 of 3 and have allowed 13 goals per in those losses after allowing just 9.3 per in the first 3 games … F Dan Dawson has 16 goals in 6 games this season after scoring 23 last season. He’s on pace for 48 goals this season, which would tie his career high set in 2005 with the Arizona Sting. Dawson hasn’t scored more than 30 goals since scoring 31 for the 2011 Boston Blazers … Rochester is averaging 11.83 PIM per game, second-lowest in the league … Rochester’s 13 combined goals in the first quarter is lowest in the league … Rookie D Graeme Hossack leads the team in loose balls (38) and is second in caused turnovers (7).
Toronto is 16-9 at home all-time against the Knighthawks … The Rock are 1-6 against East Division teams this season … The 0-6 start to the season also now serves as the longest losing streak in franchise history. The previous worst was a 0-5 skid in the 2010 season … Rochester has just 1 short-handed goal this season … F Rob Hellyer has 26 points (9-17) in his last 3 games after scoring 16 (8-8) in his first 4 … F Stephan Leblanc has found his groove, scoring 12 goals in the last 4 games after scoring just 3 in his first 3 games … The Rock are averaging 10.29 goals per game, lowest in the league while allowing 13.86 per, highest in the league … Toronto has trailed every game this season heading into the fourth quarter … The Rock continue to lead the NLL with 21.43 PIM per game, which includes a league-high 54 minors … The Rock have allowed 4 short-handed goals this season, equaling the total allowed in all of 2015.
Georgia (4-4) at New England (4-2), 3 p.m.
The Swarm are 16-11 all-time against the Black Wolves … The Swarm are scoring a league-best 13.75 goals a game, but they’re also allowing 13.5 per, second-most in the league … Georgia is shooting 19% as a team … F Johnny Powless leads the team in scoring with 41 points (22-19) and has scored 3 or more goals in 4 of his last 5 games … Rookie F Randy Staats has scored a goal in 7 of 8 games this season and has at least 1 point in all 8 games … The Swarm are 0-2 in games decided by 1 goal … The penalty kills is working at a 40% clip, second-worst in the league and the 24 power-play goals allowed are most in the NLL … Of the 24 power-play goals allowed by Georgia, 17 of those have come in road games.
New England has just 12 goals on 29 power-play chances … At 41%, the Black Wolves are ranked last in the league with the extra man, but they’ve also had a league-low 29 opportunities … New England is killing just 33% (6-for-18) of its penalties at home, worst in the league by a large margin … New England is 4-0 when F Shawn Evans scored 2 or more goals. He was held to 1 goal in each of the team’s losses … F Kevin Crowley has scored 12 goals (shooting 32%) in his last 3 games after scoring just 2 in the first 3 games (.09%) … G Evan Kirk has seen his goals-against average drop to third-best in the NLL at 10.56, but his .804 save percentage remains No. 1 … The last time this team had 4 wins in the first 6 weeks of a season was 2012, when the Philadelphia Wings were off to an identical 4-2 start.
Saskatchewan (4-2) at Calgary (3-5), 4 p.m.
D Ryan Dilks continues to lead the league with 27 caused turnovers … Your NLL leader in PIM so far this season? Nik Bilic, with 39. He’s played in just 4 games this season, but he’s just 7 PIM away from his career high of 46 (2014) … The Rush have scored 6 short-handed goals, tied for second-most in the NLL … It’s probably the most impressive team stat in the league today: The Rush are allowing just 40 shots per game, 9 fewer than No. 2 Toronto. What makes that stand out is that the No. 2 through No. 9 teams are all grouped between 49 and 54 shots allowed … The Rush have outshot opponents in all 6 games this season … The Rush are the only team in the NLL not involved in at least 1 game decided by 1 goal.
This will be the 38th meeting between these rivals and the Roughnecks lead the all-time series, 26-12, which includes 2 losses to the Rush earlier this season … The Riggers are 10-7 all-time at home against the Rush … Calgary is 0-2 without injured F Dane Dobbie in the lineup … Calgary is 2-2 at home with 3 of its next 4 at home … F Curtis Dickson is just being Curtis Dickson. After a slow start by his standards with 6 goals in the first 3 games, he’s scored 18 in his last 5 games, including 5 in last week’s loss to Vancouver … The Riggers have allowed a league-high 8 short-handed goals … The 10.75 goals-for per game ranks as second-lowest in the league.