NLL Champion’s Cup Staff Picks

The Rochester Knighthawks travel west to defend their title against the Washington Stealth (Photo: Richard Olson)
The Rochester Knighthawks travel west to defend their title against the Washington Stealth (Photo: Richard Olson)

The 2013 National Lacrosse League season is going to end just as it started – the Rochester Knighthawks will travel west to take on the Washington Stealth.

The Knighthawks and Stealth both finished the year second in their respective divisions.  League wide, the Stealth is the third seed while the Knighthawks are fifth.  Rochester and Washington have met twice this season; each team winning on their home turf.  Washington took the first – and the only game in week one – 13-12. In week five, Rochester won 7-6 in this season’s lowest-scoring game.

Let’s take a look back at how our final two fared in the past and their Champion’s Cup history:

  • The Stealth (while based out of Washington) and Knighthawks have met only three times previous to this season, once in each of the last three seasons.  The Knighthawks won two of three of those games.
  • Rochester has previously played in seven Champion’s Cup games; they have won three. Two of those wins came on the road.
  • Washington has previously played in two Champion’s Cup games, facing the Toronto Rock both times; they have won once, at home in 2010.
  • The Knighthawks are attempting to be the first team since the ’02-’03 Rock to win consecutive Championships.

Is it weird to congratulate yourself coming out on top of the post-season staff picks? (‘cause I’m about to) Even with a loss on Saturday I’ll be ahead of the rest of ‘em.  Go me! (If you were really curious, and not feeling like doing the math, yes, it puts me – all alone – in second place behind Marty for the entire 2013 season.)

A little something special for you this week – we’re all weighing in on our Champion’s Cup pick.  Fans, don’t forget you can still cast your vote in our fan poll.

Rochester @ Washington

Rochester. They split the season series, one game being a shootout, the other being a defensive duel. I love the way Rochester’s defense has been playing. It seems to have the answers for whatever’s thrown at it and that’s why I like the Knighthawks to win this game. It won’t be easy. – Bob Chavez

Washington.  I’ve been dreading making this pick all week because it’s so hard to figure who’ll win this game. The regular season matchups between the two teams were both one-goal games and I don’t expect there to be much more of a spread this weekend. I’ve flipped and flopped but I’m coming down on Washington in the end for two reasons: I think home floor in Langley will be at least as much of an advantage for them as it would have been in Everett and I think the second week playing on that ankle may be even tougher for Cody Jamieson than the first was (although he certainly managed to perform last week).  – Stephen Stamp

Washington.   Pretty evenly matched teams both with goaltenders who can make the difference. I’m going to take Rhys Duch and the Washington Stealth with their BC home floor advantage. – Brian Shanahan

Rochester.  I’ve been going back and forth since, oh, a minute after the end of Stealth-Roughnecks game last week.  As loyal staff picks readers will know I’ve picked teams with my heart (Valentine’s Day weekend), with my gut (when V-Day didn’t go so well), and have tried to break down stats to choose a winner.  I honestly think this game could go either way; so, I’m going with Roch because I’d love to see Dan Dawson raise the Cup. – Allison Bridgman

Washington.  I know many Khawks fans will be ok with this because I continually pick against my first pro team and they keep winning but I have to go with the youth and hunger of the Stealth. Eleven players were on the Champions Cup teams from 2010 and 2011 and I said it from their training camp- they’ve never had to work harder to earn a spot on this team for 2013 and that will make them a better team. Ball possession may not be a key factor but Bob The Blade Snider winning draws and getting the ball back to the Stealth offense could help wear down the talented Rochester D. The Hawks will need to eliminate the Stealth’s transition game and they’re the best team in the entire NLL at doing that. However, the Stealth have too many weapons and not just speaking of Duch, Nooch, Rat, Hill, Bucktooth. It will be the NLL’s first OT Champions Cup final and an instant classic!  – Teddy Jenner

Washington.  It’s been a season of destiny for the Stealth. To rise above the setbacks they have had makes it seem like this has to be their year. It will be a packed house supporting the West coasters and I think they will rise to the occasion. – Marty O’Neill

Washington. The two best goalies in the game (1a and 1b in my opinion), with young, mobile, fast, talented defences in front of them and sick offences. This game should be a classic. This is another coin flip game for me. These clubs match up well. Neither goalie is prone to off games, so powerplays and transition rushes will likely be the difference in this one. Going with the Stealth. Call it a gut feeling. – Ty Pilson

Rochester.  Given the way the Knighthawks play in the playoffs, and their almost bizarre ability to sometimes play better on the road, I have to pick Rochester to repeat here. I had strong second thoughts after picking against them last week, and I think they might have been facing an even hotter team in Minnesota than Washington (granted, beating either Calgary or Toronto is an epic win). I could see another tale-of-two-halves game like last year, and I have been a fan of the adjustments the Rochester bench makes. T-Rich could be huge as could the slick Stealth forward group; but think about who is on the other end and the strong cast of guys who’ve helped Vino have that stellar season. I also have to think that this could be a weekend that a hungry Dan Dawson and his brother Paul might never forget. – Casey Vock

Champion’s Cup Final

Chavez
38-34
3-3
Stamp
39-33
2-4
Shanny
38-34
2-4
Bridgman
38-34
5-1
Jenner
37-35
3-3
O’Neill
45-27
2-4
Pilson
35-37
3-3
Vock
38-33
1-5
Saturday
ROC @ WAS

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