ILIndoor Roundtable: How are the Wings getting it done, and how cool is it to have Casey Powell back in the NLL?
The final roster presented by the Philadelphia Wings heading into the 2014 National Lacrosse League season didn’t exactly impress many. It left a lot of people wondering what direction the Wings would be heading and after a 3-3 start to the season, it can safely be said that the Wings are one of the season’s surprises. Will the Wings continue this upward trend? Time will tell, but that’s one of the issues tackled for this week’s ILIndoor roundtable, along with the return of Casey Powell to the Colorado Mammoth, and the NLL. See what staffers Bob Chavez, Ty Pilson, Teddy Jenner and Marty O’Neill have to say, after the jump.
CHAVEZ: So what are we to make of the Philadelphia Wings so far? They’re 3-3 so far with an impressive win over the Stealth on Saturday. And they’re getting some great play from veteran guys, but they’re also getting some great contributions from guys like Garrett Thul, Brian Megill, Chad Wiedmaier, Pat Saunders and John Ranagan. Nothing against these guys, but who are they, and what are they doing that’s helping the Wings get off to a much better start than a lot of us thought they would?
PILSON: The Wings have been fun to watch this year. Along with the guys you mentioned, veterans Tracey Kelusky and Ryan Ward have played very well for the club and Kyle Buchanan has been excellent. Jordan Hall and Kevin Crowley round out a group of forwards doing something the Wings have struggled with for almost a decade it seems: Scoring. They now have 77 goals in six games and are putting the ball in the net more regularly than I can remember. Add in a transition game moving the ball up the floor well and Evan Kirk who’s been solid in the pipes and the Wings are more balanced and more dangerous than they have been in some time.
JENNER: The Wings are who we thought they were. Nothing fancy, will struggle at times but will constantly outwork teams, get steady goaltending, have an athletic and fast defense with a potent offense. I think the coaching staff in Philly deserves a lot of praise for getting this collection of players on the same page and playing with confidence. They could be very dangerous down the stretch if they keep putting games like Saturday OK display.
O’NEILL: There are teams every year that just catch other down teams at the right time in their schedule. Right now I’d say the Wings have a few wins against teams who have laid eggs with Vancouver and Minnesota. Were the Wings that good or were the other teams bad? Does it even matter? Here we are, I’m just not convinced yet that this team has what it takes to be a contender. Buchanan is making a believer out of all of us and Hall is MVP calibre to this point. This coming weekend will be a statement either way.
CHAVEZ: Good points, Marty. With Toronto and Edmonton this weekend, I think we’ll get a much truer gauge of where the Wings are. Beyond that, the Wings will start to see teams for a second time this season on a regular basis. Are teams with a second look going to have this Wings team figured out?
PILSON: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not penciling the Wings in for a playoff run or anything. But they do deserve credit for their play so far. This weekend redefines the term test. Toronto will be a big enough challenge, but then having to play Edmonton the next night borders on cruel and unusual punishment by the league schedule makers. That said, the Wings are used to having everyone down on them. Jordan Hall told me they hear all the critics and naysayers every season. This year they are out to prove everyone wrong. The ball is squarely in their court this weekend. Their play will show if they should be talked about as a contender, or simply the best team in the bottom half of the league.
O’NEILL: I like the Wings as a match-up to the Rock, because as always they are athletic and that will give Toronto some issues to deal with. This is nothing new in a general sense from last year or other prior years. The movement on offense with and without the ball makes the Wings harder to defend but a defense like Edmonton’s will be the worst match-up for the Wings offense. It will be two completely different games for the Philly guys to navigate which is why I see it being a tough weekend for them. Beating Toronto Friday will be their focus as a division rival.
CHAVEZ: Good stuff on the Wings and I think they’ll be one of the more interesting teams to watch down the stretch. They kind of remind me of those Titans teams from a few years ago … stocked with Americans who are learning the game, but playing with a ton of heart and desire. In that vein, we saw the return of probably the best American to play indoors in Casey Powell. What is it about his game that you, personally, enjoy watching and what does having CP in the league do for the NLL in general?
PILSON: Powell is a treat to watch. My favourite memory of CP was the 2009 championship game here in Calgary. He put on a show and was the best offensive player. In my opinion, he kept his team in the game. He’s the full package: Great outside shot, great one-on-one moves and excellent floor vision for dishing. But it wasn’t always that way for him in the indoor game. He struggled early on at times and likely thought about giving it up. To me, that’s his biggest value to the NLL: Showing perseverance. Just like some Canadian kids struggle when they first go south of the border to play collegiate field as they adjust to the nuances of the game, so to do many Americans when they first arrive in the NLL. It’s expected there will be some bumps in the road and an adjustment period. Powell showed if you’re a talented lacrosse player and if you’re willing to learn, battle and stick with it, you can be successful in the NLL. In his case, extremely successful.
JENNER: 1, I made this mistake early and was corrected by Flip Sanderson; we can take away the ‘best American’ tag for CP. He has to be considered one of the best all-time, period. He was given no chance to succeed out of ‘Cuse and was always unfairly compared with JR. Every defender went after him, especially Pat Coyle. But when I got the chance to play with him in Anaheim, that was the moment I knew he was going to make it. He took a terrible team in his back and never sulked, never complained, never forced the team’s hand to anything drastic. He just brought his hard hat and lunch pail and went to work. He’s a blue collar lacrosse player with an insane work ethic as a hunger to be the best whenever he’s on the floor. Arguably though, his unselfishness to make those around him better could be his greatest asset. Welcome back CP.
O’NEILL: My first Casey Powell a ha moment wasn’t playing against him as a rookie, it was watching him play for the New Jersey Pride live in 2001. In that era of fresh pro outdoor, he was breathtaking to watch. The speed of everything he did was a gear no one else had at the time. In box, he was gooned up because of his name early on in his Rocho days and when he came to Anaheim I think he got to work out lots of the details and experiment with what would work for him. The day Adam Mueller traded to get Powell in New York with the Titans is when it all happened. Powell coached by Mueller was the lightning rod. Shooting percentage and points went through the roof for Powell and all around him (McClellan-Boyle) with the structure to match his skills. That is ancient history but Powell has more to give the fans of the NLL and that was on display last week.
CHAVEZ: What impressed me the most is what coach Bob Hamley pointed out in that CP had no training camp and just 1 practice with the team and he shows up to do what he did in his first game. He’s not an unknown commodity so he can’t take teams by surprise. Beyond the obvious skill and athleticism, it’s his heart for the game and desire to win everything that makes him the player he is. He doesn’t have a lot of time left in the NLL, so young guns would be wise to watch and learn. I just hope Casey’s able to get an NLL ring — the only title he doesn’t have as a player — before his career is done.
Rate This Story: