Tuesday, July 10

[MLL REPORˇ] Coming Down the Homestretch

MLL REPORT:  Coming Down the Homestretch

Believe it or not the MLL season is winding down with most teams having only 4 or 5 games left.  The WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS  in ISRAEL are on the horizon.

We are going to take a look and project who the four postseason teams will be and how the WORLD GAMES may effect the teams.  Let’s look at how they countdown 9-1, CASEY KASEM style.

The defending Champions OHIO MACHINE have had a rough 2018 and come in at number nine with a 2-7 recordTOM SCHREIBER has missed time due to injury and NLL commitments and has only played in 3 games (4g,11a).  He will also be departing with TEAM USA.  KYLE HARRISON is injured and has appeared in 6 games (7g,1a, 1 2pt).  PETER BAUM has only played 5 games, (9g, 1a, 1 2pt).  With these guys missing so much time no wonder they are in the basement.

The playoffs seem to be out of reach at this point, that would be the 1st time they missed the playoffs since 2013.  BEAR DAVIS is one of the better Coach/GM’s in MLL, but this year things have gone sideways and they won’t have a chance to defend their 2017 title.

Coach LIAM BANKS and his ATLANTA BLAZE come in at number eight.  They have lost five in a row after winning three in a row earlier in the season.  KEVIN RICE is second in MLL with 46 points, but IMO they are way to reliant on him as a ball carrier.  JOE NARDELLA has stabilized their FO game going 53% with 3 goals and 3 assists since arriving from BOSTON.  They sit at the 6 loss mark and have no margin for error from now until the end of the season.

The number seven team is the BOSTON CANNONS.  They have scored the least amount of goals in MLL, with 11.77/game.  The roster has been a revolving door all season.  There is a definite VIRGINIA flavor since DOM STARSIA and BEN RUBEOR joined the staff.

UVA alums ZED WILLIAMS and MARK COCKERTON were brought in via trade while the likes of DAVEY EMALA (OHIO) and KYLOR BELLESTRI (DENVER) both being dealt in recent weeks.  They join fellow Cav JAMES PANNELL in the Cannon offense. PANNELL has been their most consistent offensive player with (18g, 9a) in 8 games, which puts him at number 15 in scoring.

They look like a different squad since WILLIAMS (12 goals, 4 games) and COCKERTON (13 goals, 3 games in BOSTON) have been inserted.  WILLIAMS looks to be a force with his size and versatility.  He was languishing in DALLAS and couldn’t crack their talented lineup.  In person he certainly passes the eye test.  The CANNONS caught a huge break picking him up.

Number one draft pick TREVOR BAPTISTE has been solid going so far going 52/100 with 1 goal since being drafted.

Long term its looks like they have righted the ship, but in terms of making the postseason this year I think it may be too much of a task.

Number six is a bit of a disappointment with a 4-6 record, The FLORIDA LAUNCH.  Coming off a great season in 2017 where they made the playoffs and drafted really well.

IMHO they have the best three-man attack unit in the game with MLL leading goal scorer DYLAN MOLLOY (32g, 11a), KIERAN MCARDLE (25g, 12a) and Rookie of the Year candidate JULES HENENBURG (14g, 10a) who has earned a starting position.

Defense, that’s a different story.  The LAUNCH rank 8th in goals given up at 148 goals against on the year.  Defending DPOY and Team USA member TUCKER DURKIN has had some injury issues and missed games and looked less than 100% in a couple of others. BEN WILLIAMS was added at FO and has stabilized a shaky situation going for 131/271, 48% since arriving.

With their six losses they have no margin for error, but they are very capable of winning out with their firepower.

New York comes in at number five. They have been very inconsistent, particularly on defense, they have given up the most goals in MLL at 149 to date.  ROB PANNELL is the best attackmen in the game, his 57 points (29g, 28a) are eleven more than his next closest competitor.  PAUL RABIL isn’t as dominate as he once was, but is still 11th in the league in scoring with 33 points.

Another thing to consider is they will lose PANNELL and RABIL to the World Games for at least one game.  Those two in addition to KYLE HARTZELL, JOE FLETCHER and KEVIN UNTERSTEIN from their defense, STEVE DENAPOLI was also selected but is injured...but I digress.

When they come back what kind of shape will they be in?  I see them missing out on the post season for the second year in a row!  They are another team with no margin for error.  Although I wouldn’t be shocked to see them sneak in.

Coming in at number four are the CHARLOTTE HOUNDS.  This is the first of our projected playoff teams. They came out of the gate really quickly winning four of the first five games. They have lost three of four since.  I still remain bullish on the HOUNDS though.

MATT RAMBO has had a great second MLL campaign and currently is 5th in scoring at 41pts (24g, 17a).  They will certainly miss their Team USA players too, JOHN HAUS (13g,11a) and RYAN BROWN (27g, 5a, 1, 2pt) are big contributors.  Is there a better pure shooter than BROWN currently?  I don’t think so.

MICHAEL EHRHARDT will also be a huge miss from the defense.  In fact, he may be the best LSM in MLL this year, he already has 16pts and 3, 2pt goalsKEVIN CROWLEY is a TEAM CANADA member and will be missed.  CROWLEY led the NLL in goals this past season in NEW ENGLAND and was instrumental in CANADA'S 2014 GOLD MEDAL.  He currently has (6g, 1a) in five games played.

Since coming into MLL, DENVER has been one of the most consistent teams making the playoffs most every year.  This year looks to be no different.  TONY SEAMAN is making a big run at GM of the year.  Look at some of the talent he has brought in this year.  JOSH HAWKINS was a free agent sign up, KYLOR BELLISTRI  (16g, 4a) was a trade acquisition from BOSTON.  But the best may be CHRIS CLOUTIER was drafted out of UNC with the 29th pick and has been on a tear scoring 18g and 8a in just four games thus far.

Like many of the teams the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS is going to cause problems.

They have TEAM USA members DREW SNIDER and JACK KELLY.  This is a big TEAM CANADA squad too with WES BERG, ZACH CURRIER and DILLON WARD.  So with WARD and KELLY both participating goalie may be an issue.  FO man MAX ADLER (79/138, 57%) who has been a big surprise is also a miss from TEAM ISRAEL.

That certainly is a lot of talent to lose, but they are far enough ahead and have enough talent to lose their contingent short term.  The OUTLAWS should qualify again for the post season, but they certainly have work to do.

DALLAS currently sits atop MLL with an 8-2 record, but are number two on my list.  Although they are new to DALLAS, the RATTLERS have been a serious title contender the last few seasons.  They look like they have what it takes to win the elusive title.

JORDAN WOLF (27g, 19a) trails only ROB PANNELL in scoring.  However he along with NED CROTTY (9g, 8a) will be absent from their offense.  JOEL WHITE and JOHN GALLOWAY are their leaders on defense and will also be missing.  But, this is a squad that is loaded and have added BEN REEVES from YALE and JOHN SEXTON from NOTRE DAME. They can be a suitable replacements   for WOLF at Attack and for WHITE at LSM.  If BLAZE RIORDAN had enough minutes played he would be leading MLL in both GAA and Save% at 11.30 and .612%.

I love their defensive unit with MIKE MANLEY, MATT DUNN and JORDAN STEVENS.

TY THOMPSON is having a career season putting up 28 goals.  So despite the TEAM USA players missing they will have more than enough to qualify for the postseason.

CHESAPEAKE is the team I see standing with their sixth STEINFELD TROPHY when all of the dust settles.  First off I love DAVE COTTLE as a coach, he has the experience and has put together front to back the best team IMHO.

In goal NIKO AMATO leads in GAA and Save % (11.64 and .573%).  The BAYHAWKS have held opponents under 10 goals two of their last three outings.  Defenders like GARRET EPPLE and MATT REISS have impressed.

At midfield it starts with STEPHEN KELLY who has burst onto the scene going 129/220, .586% at the FO X.

MYLES JONES didn’t make TEAM USA, that’s not a bad thing for the BAYHAWKS.  He is leading a balanced offense with 26 points (15g, 10a, 1 2Pt).  MATT DANOWSKI who has only appeared in 5 games his season and longpole JESSE BERNHARDT are the lone TEAM USA members.  JOSH BYRNE and rookie IAN MacKAY are on TEAM CANADA.

On attack STEELE STANWICK has resurfaced and has 16 points (13g, 3a) in 5 games played.  LYLE THOMPSON remains on the roster although we haven’t seen him yet.

So when the dust settles, I like likes CHESAPEAKE to win the title.  The other playoff teams will be: DENVER, DALLAS and CHARLOTTE.

Well thanks again for the time!  Follow me on TWITTER, @bernasconirich.
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