NLL Week 9 Floor Pass: Previews, Audio
Edmonton's players were called out by Rush owner Bruce Urban via Twitter after the team fell to 2-7.
We must be in the heart of the National Lacrosse League season. Two coaches this week called out referees, one (Buffalo's Darris Kilgour) directly and one (Toronto GM/assistant coach Terry Sanderson) indirectly. And teams are starting to talk about if they don't get some wins in the early part of the second half of the season that their years, for all intents and purposes, will be done. In the case of Calgary, its season may end early for completely different reasons and Roughnecks assistant coach Bob McMahon spoke this week about how players' are keeping their focus.
Here's a look at this weekend's six regular season games, including several sound bytes from Wednesday's conference call with coaches. Check back to laxmagazine.com each week for game-by-game breakdowns and more audio from around the NLL. (All times are local.)
Minnesota Swarm (4-4) at Colorado Mammoth (1-7), Friday 7 p.m.
The news out of Minnesota this week was the trade of former No. 3 overall pick Zack Greer to the Edmonton Rush. Swarm general manager Marty O'Neill said the acquisition of Jamie Shewchuk about four weeks ago opened the door for the move, as Greer's playing time decreased on the left side.
Minnesota beat Colorado, 12-10, at the Pepsi Center in each of these teams last game Feb. 20 before their all-star break. They both return to the scene Friday. Colorado is struggling, having lost every game since Week 2 at Calgary.
"We're certainly not happy with our record," Colorado coach Bob Hamley said. "We're going to stick together and keep working hard to get back to where we know we can be. Hopefully that will translate to some wins here earlier in the second half [of the season]."
Listen to Minnesota coach Mike Lines talk about the matchup with Colorado, the Greer trade and the play of Aaron Wilson.
Listen to Colorado coach Bob Hamley on looking ahead to the second half of the season, facing Minnesota at home again and the Mammoth's poor shooting.
Philadelphia Wings (4-5) at Toronto Rock (8-2), Friday 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia has allowed 16 goals in two of its last three games after averaging 11 goals allowed in its first six. That includes a 16-13 loss to Toronto last week.
"We started off well," Wings coach John Tucker said about his defense. "We've gotten out of our comfort zone in stretching out at times. We've been wildly inconsistent the last few games and it shows up in the scoreboard. We're paying for a lot of our mistakes." Tucker said the aim will be to get more physical.
Philly scored five power play goals against Toronto last week. Toronto general manager/assistant coach Terry Sanderson was asked what he would do to combat the penalties Wednesday. "If you want to know the truth, I'd end up getting fined," Sanderson said, before later saying, "We're not a very high penalized team. Not just the teams have to show up to do a good job on any given night. We'll leave it at that."
Listen to Philadelphia coach John Tucker talk about facing Toronto again, why the Wings seem to play better on the road than at home, and Philly's inconsistent defense.
Listen to Toronto general manager/assistant coach Terry Sanderson on allowing 13 goals last week, leading the East at 8-2 and referees.
Calgary Roughnecks (5-3) at Philadelphia Wings (4-5), Saturday 7 p.m.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the Calgary Roughnecks – owner Brad Banister's proposed sale of the team, admission that he's been unable to pay players and an anonymous donation needed to cover players' travel expenses this weekend to Philadelphia – Calgary assistant coach Bob McMahon was asked Wednesday how the players have managed to keep focus on the season. McMahon was filling in for head coach Dave Pym on the conference call.
"We've had really good leadership," he said, from captain Andrew McBride and assistants Kaleb Toth and Mike Carnegie. "We've had a bye week, so two weeks since we've played but they made a point of keeping in contact with all of our players, mostly through email, but they've challenged each player to stay focused in conditioning with the bye week. We've distributed scouting reports for Philadelphia for the upcoming weekend. It's good that our leaders on the team have taken it upon themselves to keep everybody focused."
Another storyline for this game is Geoff Snider's return to Philadelphia in a different uniform. It's also the second game of a back-to-back weekend for the Wings.
Listen to Calgary assistant coach Bob McMahon on coaching the young Calgary team, facing Philadelphia, Dane Dobbie, and how the Roughnecks players are handling the off-field news surrounding the team.
Listen to Philadelphia coach John Tucker on Geoff Snider's return to Philadelphia and facing a West team for a change.
Washington Stealth (4-5) at Edmonton Rush (2-7), Saturday 7 p.m.
Edmonton's two wins this season have come against Washington in a home-and-home series earlier this season. But this is apparently not the same Stealth team this time around.
"We were starting to find ourselves last game," Washington coach Chris Hall said of a 20-7 win over Colorado Feb. 19.
The Stealth saw Joel Dalgarno return from injury and score three goals. Jeff Zywicki, their trigger man on the player play, who has been out since Week 3 with a knee injury may return this week. Hall said the team would assess his status before the game.
"He reportedly should be pretty close to be ready to go," Hall said.
Zack Greer will play for Edmonton for the first time after coming over in trade this week.
Listen to Washington coach Chris Hall on looking ahead to the second half of the season and Zywicki coming back from injury.
Listen to Edmonton coach and GM Derek Keenan on acquiring Zack Greer, the team's response to being called out in a Tweet by the team owner Bruce Urban and trying to beat Washington for the third time.
Rochester Knighthawks (5-4) at Buffalo Bandits (4-3), Saturday 7:30 p.m.
These two are both 2.5 games behind East leading Toronto and both are feeling good heading into the New York rivalry. Rochester won 13-9 last week. Buffalo actually lost its last game, 10-9, Feb. 19 versus Philadelphia, but coach Darris Kilgour said that had more to do with the referees than anything. Philadelphia converted 6 of 9 power play chances.
"I liked everything about my team last game," Kilgour said Wednesday. "I thought the referees were completely out of control. They really hurt our team. They handicapped us."
Rochester first-year head coach Mike Hasen gets his first state of this series from leading the bench after participating as a Knighthawk player. He'll get more chances the second half of the season. Rochester and Buffalo will play twice more after this one.
Listen to Rochester coach Mike Hasen on last week's 13-9 win over Edmonton, facing Buffalo for the first of three times the second half of the season, the addition of Cody Vitarelli to the roster, Pat McCready, Shawn Evans, and Hasen coaching in this rivalry for the first time.
Listen to Buffalo coach Darris Kilgour on the matchup with Rochester, referees and if he's concerned with his team taking the fewest shots in the league.
Buffalo Bandits (4-3) at Boston Blazers (6-3), Sunday 5 p.m.
Judging by the travel schedules and rest time, Boston should feel pretty comfortable about this matchup. The Blazers haven't played since Feb. 19, while Buffalo will play Saturday night against Rochester, then turnaround and travel to Boston for 5 p.m. start Sunday. Buffalo coach Darris Kilgour sounded completely unenthused at the idea, mentioning that the Bandits will probably get to the airport in Buffalo at 5:30 a.m. Sunday after their first game of the weekend. They won't shoot around before the Boston game.
Kilgour also said facing with Blazers big offense will be hard. "They probably present the biggest matchup problems out of anybody," he said. "We're going to need to score some goals if we're going to stay with them."
Listen to Buffalo coach Darris Kilgour on facing Boston, the road trip, and the Bandits' penalty kill.
Listen to Boston coach Matt Sawyer on the matchup, Kevin Buchanan, if the team has found chemistry after a relatively slow start, and if playing early on Sunday makes a difference.