Saturday, May 4

[NLL MASH-UP] Playoff Preview

Our NLL correspondent @BernasconiRich has been following the National Lacrosse League intently and has brought you faithful, some Professional BOXLA insight on behalf of YYL all season. Read our end of season PLAYOFF MASH-UP and be sure to follow him on Twitter, when you get a cyber-moment.
The regular season has ended and what looks like one of the most competitive playoffs in recent memory is about to begin. 

The last couple of seasons SASKATCHEWAN has been a heavy favorite, this year they are in a group of 2-3 teams and I foresee them taking home the title. By no means are they the prohibitive favorite as they have been in years past.

During the season we ended up with our NLL MASH-UP picks going 65 / 99 for a robust 66%.
This is how we see things playing out in the post season.

In the East ...

We have seen the trend all season, BUFFALO, TORONTO and GEORGIA are a cut above everyone else in the east.

All three organizations possess the necessary components needed to make a title run; goal-tending, defense, offensive balance and depth. When it's all said and done, look for BUFFALO to survive and take the East this year as they have a home floor advantage throughout the playoffs after earning the best regular season record.

First the BANDITS will have to get by NEW ENGLAND in the first round. Coach CLARK has done another solid job and CALLUM CRAWFORD has had an MVP quality season playing in 16 games played going for 48g / 61a, 109 points on 17.5% shooting . I don’t think they can score enough as a team to pull off the upset.

As advertised, MATT VINC was the off-season acquisition of 2018. He has rock solid numbers with .803 save% (2nd in NLL) and 10.02 GAA (1st in NLL). He has added stability and will bring championship pedigree to the playoffs. Offensively they are loaded on both sides of the floor, EVANS, SMITH, SMALL, etc.

In the second match-up I give GEORGIA an edge over TORONTO. There isn’t much separating these two, during the year GEORGIA had a had a slight edge winning 2 of 3. GEORGIA bested the ROCK in the 2017 playoffs as well. 

I just don’t see the SWARM losing this one at home. LYLE THOMPSON is the best player in the NLL and will find a way to make it happen. The home crowd has been turning-up in GEORGIA this year. They drew a couple of crowds of 8K or better this year, doubling what they've attracted in previous years.

If anything, the health of MIKE POULIN is something to be concerned about as he was banged up late this season. Because his status is in question, I'll stick with the SWARM with or without the presence of The POULIN WALL.

TORONTO is no slouch, and is capable of winning on the road. They will need a big night from NICK ROSE in goal and some scoring from the back to get the win.

If this scenario plays out BUFFALO would host GEORGIA. I'm leaning towards the BANDITS, predicting that they will have a slight edge.

Meanwhile out West ...

For the first time in recent memory the RUSH are not the overwhelming favorite. They still possess home floor and a raucous crowd. In the first round I don’t see anyway COLORADO defeats the RUSH in this spot.
DILLON WARD will need a massive effort to keep it close.

Just like the East match-up, the 2-3 match-up is going to be a good one. SAN DIEGO has had a great first season and earned the right to host CALGARY. I see the ROUGHNECKS coming out on top though. Look for CURTIS DICKSON 45g / 36a, 15.8% to have a big night leading the way. 

The biggest disappointment in this match-up for me is the fact that AUSTIN STAATS is injured. Without him, it’s going to be really tough for the SEALS to overcome. Shout out to the 37 year old DANGEROUS DAN DAWSON on a great season. The California sun did him well, as he went off for 29g / 59a on 18.6% shooting.
I can’t go against SASK when it comes to the West final . In the regular season CALGARY took 2 of 3. In their March 2nd match-up, the RUSH easily handled the 'NECKS. In fairness, the 'NECKS beat SASK 18-8, but both teams clinched their playoff berths at that time.

In the final... BUFFALO take the title in sweeping fashion.

All NLL 2019

RF DHANE SMITH: Had a slow start this year plagued by a nagging injury. Was hot down the stretch, finishing the year with 32g, 70a (led NLL) and a 15.9 shooting %.
LYLE THOMPSON: The best player in the world, period. Finished the year with 43g, 62a, 19.5 shooting %. Stats don’t tell the story with this guy. This eye test shows him to be the best player as well ...
CALLUM CRAWFORD: A strong contender for MVP. See stats up top.

LF DANE DOBBIE: Last year he was a surprise All-NLL pick, this year it is a no-brainer as he led the NLL in scoring with 125 points on 47g, 68a with 16.1% shooting.
MARK MATTHEWS: Although this season was below his lofty standards he is still one of the top lefty’s in the NLL and scored 105 points with 41g / 64a and a lofty 20.1% shooting.
ZACH CURRIER: Swiss Army knife of the lacrosse world, energy, energy, energy!! 199 LBs were 2nd in the NLL, also chipped in with 6g / 16a.
CHALLEN ROGERS: Continues to improve and continued to put up points from the back with 16g / 15a and 114 LBs.
KYLE RUBISCH: Big, mean nasty...that’s all

STEVE PRIOLO: so impressed with his play this year. 11g / 15a, 135 LBs
GREAME HOSSACK: disappointing year in ROCHESTER, but HOSSACK is without question one of the best in the NLL. Came in with 8g / 16a and 164 LBs.
Goalie MATT VINC: has lived up to all expectations.
Defensive Player of the Year: STEVE PRIOLO
Coach of the Year: PATRICK MERRILL
Rookie of the Year: AUSTIN STAATS




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