NLL Team Reports for Week 8: ‘If games were just 3 quarters, we’d be in great shape.’ – Minnesota coach Joe Sullivan
The Rochester Knighthawks aren’t worried about an offense that regressed. The Calgary Roughnecks are concerned with issues of discipline during games. The Colorado Mammoth say they’re not worried about their defense, especially of the offense can get on track to score some goals and take pressure off the back end, and the Philadelphia Wings haven’t had much to worry about for 2 weeks, because their last game was on Feb. 8. These are but a few of the issues that National Lacrosse League clubs are talking about as we head into Week 8 of the season, the halfway point. Toronto and Buffalo are off this weekend, but Minnesota, Edmonton and Philadelphia all play twice this weekend starting tonight with the Swarm playing at the Rush in a key West Division matchup. ILIndoor takes a closer look at all the NLL teams playing this weekend, after the jump.
Friday and sunday
|Minnesota Swarm vs. Edmonton Rush|
|Friday, February 22 - Rexall Place - 9 p.m. (EST)|
|Sunday, February 24 - Xcel Energy Center - 3 p.m. (EST)|
Records: Minnesota 2-4; Edmonton 3-4.
Last week: Minnesota lost to Calgary, 17-16; Edmonton defeated Washington, 15-10, and defeated Colorado, 14-7.
History: All-time series tied, 4-4. (Edmonton is 3-1 at home vs. Minnesota; Minnesota is 3-1 at home vs. Edmonton).
Goals for: Minnesota 77 (7th); Edmonton 89 (4th).
Goals against: Minnesota 84 (tied for 4th); Edmonton 76 (3rd).
Scoring leaders: Minnesota — Ryan Benesch (13-19, 32), Shayne Jackson 9-16, 25), Kiel Matisz (11-12, 23); Edmonton — Mark Matthews (23-15, 38), Ryan Ward (13-20, 33), Corey Small (10-20, 30).
League leaders: Edmonton — Mark Matthews (23 goals).
Three of the 4 losses are by a single goal, and the frustration is mounting. “They all want to win,” coach Joe Sullivan said of his players. “So we can’t accept it. It’s not enough. We can’t allow 2 goals in transition late in the game when we’re up by a goal with a power play. We’re just not playing well enough.” … In the team’s 4 losses, the Swarm have been leading, trailing, tied and tied after 3 quarters. They’ve been outscored 16-9 in the fourth quarter of those games. “Late in games, it’s the experience or lack thereof and we have to see how we can get over that. If games were just 3 quarters, we’d be in great shape.” … F Callum Crawford missed his second game of the season last week and Sullivan couldn’t say whether or not he’d be back this weekend. He said the team will know more after Thursday’s strength tests … Minnesota has not played Edmonton this season, but what the Rush are doing is no secret. “We’ve watched them play a lot,” said Sullivan. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of speed.”
The Rush are averaging 12.7 goals per game, third-highest in the NLL … Rookie F Mark Matthews has heard all the chatter about his 11-goal weekend but all he cares about is the 2-win weekend the Rush just had. “On Friday, we did a good job of getting our looks and it carried into Saturday,” he said. “When it’s going like that, we’re tough to stop.” … And 7 weeks into the season, his 23 goals leads the league. “I’m just happy to contribute,” he said. “As a team, I expected us to be a little higher in the standings but hopefully we can get on a little bit of a roll here.” … Coach and GM Derek Keenan said the Rush did a good job in clearing space for Matthews to shoot in the victories, but it obviously went beyond that. “We played hard and we played well in both games,” he said. … He expects a bit of a frenzied pace against the Swarm this weekend. “Both teams really like to push it and this is another big weekend for us with both games in division.” … Sunday’s game is the first of 5 straight road games for Edmonton. “We’ve played quite well away from home,” said Keenan, whose team has 2 of its 3 wins on the road. “I think we rally together a bit better on the road.”
|Philadelphia Wings at Rochester Knighthawks|
|Saturday, February 23rd - Blue Cross Arena - 7:30 p.m. (EST)|
Records: Philadelphia 2-3; Rochester 3-4.
Last week: Philadelphia was off; Rochester lost to Buffalo, 10-6.
History: Rochester leads all-time series, 27-15 (15-5 in Rochester).
Goals for: Philadelphia 52 (9th); Rochester 80 (5th).
Goals against: Philadelphia 65 (1st); Rochester 71 (2nd).
Scoring leaders: Philadelphia — Kevin Buchanan (5-18, 23), Kevin Crowley (10-13, 23), Jordan Hall (6-14, 20); Rochester — Cody Jamieson (13-23, 36), Dan Dawson (7-22, 29), Stephen Keogh (10-9, 19), Cory Vitarelli (12-7, 19).
League leaders: Rochester – Matt Vinc (10.10 goals-against average).
The Wings are averaging 10.4 goals per game, lowest in the league, although they’ve also played a league-low 5 games … The Wings have not played since allowing 20 goals in a loss to Rochester on Feb. 8. “It’s almost like the beginning of the season again,” said T Jordan Hall. “It’s going to be nice to get back together again. We’re looking forward to that and getting back into NLL mode.” … It’ll be Hall’s first game in Rochester since he was traded to Philadelphia in December. “It’s a little bit of a weird feeling, and there are no hard feelings, but anytime you play against the team that traded you, you want to out there and have a good performance.” … Coach and GM Johnny Mouradian said blowout losses are always tough to digest, but 2 weeks is long enough. “We have to refocus and have to get back to what we do best. We’re athletic and we need to play athletic. That’s when we’re successful.” … Philadelphia has not had much success lately against Rochester, and the Wings are well aware of that. “We know what (Rochester) has, we just have to play better. Earlier this year, we were able to answer whenever a goal was scored against us but against the Knighthawks, we haven’t been able to do that.”
The Knighthawks are averaging 10.1 goals-allowed per game, lowest in the NLL … A week after shooting 31% (15-for-48) in a win over the Bandits, the Knighthawks shot just 10% (6-for-60) in the rematch … “We’re just trying to put that one behind us,” said coach Mike Hasen, who said history vs. Philadelphia doesn’t factor into this weekend’s game plan. “Our play will have a lot to do with the way we played last week and having to correct what we just did.” … And even though the offense regressed last weekend, Hasen said there are no worries. “We’re 7 games into the season and everything we do is still a work in progress. On defense, we just have to keep doing our jobs.” … D Brad Self said there’s a bit of a comfort zone in addressing problems today compared to addressing problems after a 0-3 start to the season. “We’re a veteran group,” he said. “And winning it last year helps, but we’re also confident that we can come out on any weekend and be right there.”
|Calgary Roughnecks at Washington Stealth|
|Saturday, February 23rd - Comcast Arena - 10 p.m. (EST)|
Records: Calgary 5-3; Washington 4-4.
Last week: Calgary defeated Minnesota, 17-16; Washington lost to Edmonton, 15-10.
History: Calgary leads all-time series, 6-3 (Calgary is 5-0 in Washington).
Goals for: Calgary 114 (1st); Washington 95 (3rd).
Goals against: Calgary 102 (9th); Washington 96 (8th).
Scoring leaders: Calgary — Shawn Evans (18-36, 54), Dane Dobbie (20-14, 34), Jeff Shattler (13-21, 34); Washington — Rhys Duch (22-19, 41), Cliff Smith (11-18, 29), Lewis Ratcliff (15-13, 28).
League leaders: Calgary — Shawn Evans (54 points, 36 assists), Geoff Snider (128 loose balls, 158 faceoff wins, 47 PIM); Washington — Lewis Ratcliff (87 shots on goal), Kyle Sorensen (17 forced turnovers).
The Roughnecks are 5-0 against the Stealth in games played in Everett, but are 1-3 at home against the Stealth … F Scott Ranger scored a career-high 6 goals in Saturday’s win over Minnesota … F Shawn Evans had 9 assists in Saturday’s win over Minnesota … F Curtis Dickson has scored 4 game-winning goals this season, including Saturday’s against Minnesota … The Roughnecks are averaging a league-high 14.2 goals per game … Calgary has had to kill 68 penalties this season, by far the most in the NLL. Buffalo, witih 44, is the next closest, and the discipline issue is not sitting well with coach Curt Malawsky. “It’s been an issue for quite some time,” he said. “And we’re going to make some changes … because it’s the undisciplined penalties, the selfish ones and dead-ball fouls that hurt. This is going to be addressed because this is unacceptable and someone is going to be held accountable.” … D Scott Carnegie agrees, after the Riggers gave up 13 power-play goals over the weekend. “It’s an issue,” he said. “And against Washington, with their shooters, that’ll kill us.” … Malawsky said there will be some cleaning up to do “in our own backyard” to get the defense in order. “I was disappointed with the split, to be honest,” he said. “Letting in 17 goals and then 16, is not going to get it done. This team is not built for shootouts.” … Calgary was 3-0 against Washington last year, but knows the Stealth are a different team this season. “Tyler Richards always seems to get stronger in goal as the game goes on so that’ll be a challenge for us,” said Malawsky. “There are not a lot of holes on that team.”
Washington’s last win over Calgary was a 19-14 decision on Jan. 22, 2011, in Calgary … Only 8 players from that 2011 win are on today’s Stealth roster … Washington has not won consecutive games since opening the season 2-0. “The problem with our team this year is inconsistency,” said F Rhys Duch. “We kinda get away from what we’re doing and if we don’t come in 100%, we’re going to end up on the wrong side of things.” … Coach Chris Hall said the problem isn’t technical as much as it is mental. “We’ve got to start bringing better focus to every game,” he said. … Hall said D Jeff Moleski, who has missed 4 games with injury, “is ready to go and we expect him to be in the lineup this weekend.”
|Colorado Mammoth at Philadelphia Wings|
|Sunday, February 24th - Wells Fargo Center - 4 p.m. (EST)|
Records: Colorado 2-4; Philadelphia 2-3.
Last week: Colorado lost to Edmonton, 14-7; Philadelphia was off.
History: Wings lead all-time series, 8-4 (4-2 at home).
Goals for: Colorado 66 (8th); Philadelphia 52 (9th).
Goals against: Colorado 84 (tied for 4th); Philadelphia 65 (1st).
Scoring leaders: Colorado — John Grant Jr. (20-14, 34), Gavin Prout (5-22, 27), Adam Jones (10-14, 24); Philadelphia — Kevin Buchanan (5-18, 23), Kevin Crowley (10-13, 23), Jordan Hall (6-14, 20).
League leaders: Colorado — John Grant Jr. (9 power-play goals, tied).
The teams split last year’s 2-game series with the road team winning each game by 1 goal … “I remember both games last year as excellent games,” Mammoth coach Bob Hamley said. “The game in Philly was a physical game, very athletic. And today, they’re a lot like us in that we’re still trying to find ourselves.” … Hamley there really are no worries on both ends of the floor as far as personnel goes, but it’s a matter of getting the system to work. “The last 2 games, you have to give a little credit to the goaltending (Aaron Bold and Tyler Richards) but at the end of the day, you have to finish (on offense).” … And on defense? “I thought we played pretty well, but Mark Matthews had a great game,” he said of the loss to Edmonton. “We didn’t score very often on offense and that puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending and the defense. So I have no concerns with the defense.”
Mouradian says the Wings match up well with the Mammoth, pointing to last season’s pair of games. But he brought up again how the Wings need to “be better” and have to focus on what they do best. “All the little games, like winning the faceoff game … we need to get back to winning the loose ball game and look at where we are as a team because when we win these types of games, it develops our identity and helps our confidence. The last couple of games, we’ve been watching the game.” … Hall said the athleticism in Philadelphia has plenty of gas to run with the Mammoth. “We have to get 1-on-1 matchups with our athletic offense and it’ll be a matter of who sticks to principles.”Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to RochesterSports.com.
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