Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Preview of Week 5 in the NLL

A whole slate of games in week 5 of the NLL which showcases all 12 teams. Here is the rundown of the games minus the Buffalo/Philly game.

Thursday January 24th

Colorado vs. Portland
The Colorado Mammoth come into this weekday game winning their first two games against the Roughnecks and the Rush. They really do look like the team to beat in the Western Conference. The Lumberjax lost their only game to the suprising New York Titans. The Mammoth really have all the pieces starting with their starting goalie Gee Nash. He has a 10 GAA second only to Nick Patterson from Minnesota. Their leading point getter, Dan Carey, has 13 points with 5 goals and 8 assists which puts him 13th in the the league. While there aren't big numbers being put up in Colorado, there are a lot of them. In two games, there are 16 players with at least one point. The Portland Lumberjax have issues when it comes to goaltending. The Titans racked up 14 goals in their only game with Matt King letting in 8 over roughly 47 minutes with Dallas Eliuk letting in 5 more. While Eliuk is getting the start, he may be in trouble again with the high powered offense that the Mammoth propose. Looking at the numbers, the Mammoth should really take this game.

Friday January 25th

Calgary vs. San Jose
These two teams matched up two weeks ago with the Stealth coming away with the win 13-12 in OT. What it really comes down to for Calgary is the play of Steve Dietrich. With a 11.05 GAA, his play has been alright but not good enough for this defense to hold the games. They have lost both of their games this season letting in 23 goals. For the Roughnecks to win, Dietrich really needs to take the team and put it on his back. The leading scorer in Calgary is Lewis Ratcliff with 16 points (6-10). After that, there isnt much on the scoresheet with only 10 others recording points. The Stealth have only played the one game against the Roughnecks and they played well enough to win. The Roughnecks get back Tracy Kelusky which should help their offense. I think that Calgary takes this one.

Saturday January 26th

New York vs. Toronto
The Titans have become the surprise of the NLL this season with beating Portland and keeping it real close with the Bandits. The one thing that has fueled this team is the play of their power play. The power play has gone 15 for 27 overall and 9 for 12 against Portland. Other than that though, the Titans cannot score well on 5 on 5. They have scored 13 of their goals 5 on 5. The Titans have firepower, but no depth when it comes to that. 4 players have more than 10 points, but only 10 players have recorded a point. For this team to beat a sound defense in Toronto, they need to not rely so much on the power play. Toronto has had their fair share of difficulty this season with all of the off the field stuff surrounding the team. They ended up beating the Rush last week and Blaine Manning looks poised to score a lot. He has 23 points in 4 games (10-13) and is leading the league in everything. If the Toronto defense can shut down the heavy hitters, I think that Toronto can start turning their season around. I don't see it happen though.

Edmonton vs. Chicago
The Rush haven't looked all that spectacular in their first two games but who can blame them when you look at their opponents, the Mammoth and the Rock playing a must win game. The Shamrox didn't look all that good in their games either losing to Toronto and high flying Philly. For both of these teams, a win is needed to start to right the season. Both teams have scored 20 goals in their 2 games so their offenses are pretty evenly matched. Basically this game is going to come down to the defenses and goalies. There the Rush have the advantage. They have given up 28 goals to Chicago's 30 and have a better goalie between the pipes in Curtis Palidwor. It seems to be a toss up for the Shamrox in who is going to be between the pipes between Brandon Miller and Derek Collins. I think that the Rush take this one pretty easily.

Minnesota vs. Rochester
Its the lock tight goalkeeping of the Swarm against the high flying offense of the Knighthawks. The Knighthawks looked good in their two games against the Rock, taking both. The main reason for that is the play of goaltender Nick Patterson. He leads the league in goals against average with a 9.8. He let in 20 goals on 101 shots. He was the main reason that the Swarm were able to sweep the weekend against Toronto. He is going to have to be as good against the Knighthawks which haven't been able to win since their first game in Buffalo. John Grant is looking as good as he did in his MVP season of last year. He has 17 points in 3 games (9-8) and has a fairly potent supporting cast in Shawn Williams and the Evans brothers. This game will come down to which is going to give first and I think that Rochester will have enough firepower to break out of their funk.

San Jose vs. Colorado
A matchup of two teams that already play a game earlier in the week. San Jose has to travel to Colorado after facing Calgary, while the Mammoth get to rest a day before they have to play. I think that fatigue is going to play a factor in this game and that obviously gives the Mammoth an advantage. I'll make this one short in saying that the Mammoth are going to be too good in goal to lose in this game. The Stealth offense is alright and I can't see it beating Nash too many times especially coming off of a game the night before. The Mammoth should not have a problem in this one.

Portland vs. Calgary
Again, another matchup of two teams that already play in the week. I would say that Portland has an advantage here but I think that if Calgary can beat the Stealth, then their goaltending should carry them into this game as well. Dietrich has been playing well and the Portland offense isn't all that good. So this one should be fairly simple for the Roughnecks.

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