Friday, January 25

[NLL MASH-UP] As we stand the NLL season is approximately at the quarter mark ...


As we stand the NLL season is approximately at the quarter mark.  Some trends are starting to develop and contenders are emerging.  Here are some thoughts, feelings, reactions on the season thus far and what is going to happen moving forward.

EAST IS BEAST!  Looking at GEORGIA, BUFFALO and TORONTO
. I can’t see much difference between these three teams.  All three are solid in goal, defense and have balance on offense.  All three teams have put up 4 wins. If I have to pick between the three I select BUFFALO at this point.  Their balance and firepower to go along with the acquisition of MATT VINC make them the favorite.  Among the three teams the BANDITS lead in GPG averaging 14.4.  SHAWN EVANS is tied for the league lead in points (11g 26a), he has been in top form all season


There is a long way to go and injuries are always going to be a factor, I see three battling to the final night of the season.

NEW ENGLAND BLACKWOLVES.  This team is my biggest surprise of the season. They have answered all of the questions we asked of them prior to the start of the season.  Who was going to step up in goal?  Well, DOUG JAMIESON (77.9% save%) and ALEX BUQUE (76.5%) have shared the load and have been solid.  We wondered if new acquisition TYLER DIGBY would have a bounce back season.  He has made an impact with 7g,10a, 36.8 sht%.  Played great this past weekend versus GEORGIA, going for 2g, 3a. 

We questioned their left side.  REILLY O’CONNOR has come out of nowhere with 11g, 11a.  He scored only 7 all of last season. 

They have a very big mean, nasty defense as well.  The MOHEGAN SUN gives them a nice home field advantage.  I’m not ready to put them in the top group yet, you must be impressed by them.

SASKATCHEWAN RUSH.  How is it possible that the team that has won 3 of the last 4 titles is flying under the radar?  The have put together four wins in a row after losing opening night at NEW ENGLAND.  They are second in the league in goals per game 13.3, this is pretty much the same unit that has dominated in recent years.  You know the names ( MATTHEWS, CHURCH, MCINTOSH ETC).  MCINTOSH is shooting a ridiculous 31.9%, to go along with his 15g, 12a.

Despite all of the changes made on defense they are only giving up 10.25 goals per game.  I don’t see any team out west ready to knock the RUSH off yet.

SAN DIEGO
.  If you read our preseason preview you know the start the expansion SEALS are off to isn’t a huge surprise.  We were impressed with the roster assembled.  The have such a nice mix of vets and rookies.  The home games have been well attended and there is a good energy in their building.


AUSTIN STAATS.  Speaking of rookies.  He has lived up to all of the hype and then some. Currently tied for the goal scoring lead with 18.  I would have to say the ROOKIE of the YEAR is a lock at this point.  Can he make a run at the MVP?  So far he is.


SAN DIEGO VETS
.  DANGEROUS DAN DAWSON has turned the clock back a few years.  The CALIFORNIA sunshine is doing him justice.  Comes in with 8g, 17a on 19.5% shooting.  He is their main main on the right side.


GARRETT BILLINGS
has resurfaced and he chipped in with 7g, 13a on the right side.


Don’t forget BRODIE MERRILL.  Continues to play at a high level and provide leadership on defense.  What a pick up to be the first captain of the franchise.  I don’t think they will have enough to overcome SASK, but this team will be a force in the future.

COLORADO (1-3) and CALGARY(3-4) STRUGGLE.  These two squads have been disappointing out west.  Both have a negative goal difference (COL-4, CAL -5).

CALGARY
has played a league high seven games.  They had a tough (0-2) weekend on the road.  Long term they will be in the playoffs. They haven’t got much offense outside of DANE DOBBIE, he leads the NLL in points (17g, 20a).  I expect CURTIS DICKSON to round into form after his holdout, he has only appeared in 3 games (2g, 7a) and is shooting a dreadful 4% Speaking of holdouts, where is WES BERG?  Still no sign of him as he continues to hold out. 


A return of a healthy JESSE KING would be a welcome addition too. 

The MAMMOTH finally got their first win of the season after dropping their first three.  You have to wonder where the offense is coming from.  They don’t have a player in the top 20 in scoring.  RYAN BENESCH (10g, 9a) is putting up decent numbers, but outside of him nobody is in form as of yet.  JEREMY NOBLE is shooting 6%...OUCH.

PHILLY STILL SEARCHING FOR FIRST WIN
.  Although they are off to a disappointing start record wise the WINGS have played pretty well at times.  #2 draft pick CHRIS CLOUTIER has been solid coming in with 7g, 11a.  Their biggest move was adding BIG CAT KEVIN CROWLEY from NEW ENGLAND.  He already has 5g in 2 games so far.  They need to tighten up their 13.6 goals against.


So as we look ahead to the rest of the season we see the EAST coming down to BUF, GA and TOR.  Out WEST it is still SASK and everyone else until further notice.

Thanks for the time.  @bernasconirich on TWITTER.

 

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