April 25, 2014

NLL Weekend: Second Place in East Up for Grabs

by Neil Stevens | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | Stevens Archive

Second place in the NLL East is a remaining plum and a scoring champion will emerge during the final weekend of the regular season. The matchups (all times EDT):

VANCOUVER (4-12) at EDMONTON (15-2)

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Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Rochester won both of its home games against Buffalo this season including an 8-4 battle last Saturday. The 'Hawks have won four in a row and eight of their last nine. They are the hottest team in the league right now, and coach Mike Hasen wants to add to the momentum with another win before having next weekend off.

''Historically, the team that has the first-round bye comes out flat and we don't want that to happen,'' he says.

Rochester, like Edmonton, will get the first-round bye that goes with winning the division, but don't expect the Knighthawks to ease off in what appears on the surface to be a meaningless game for them. They lost their first visit to First Niagara Center 11-10 back in January and won't want to go into the playoffs winless in Buffalo and, besides, Cody Jamieson has an outside chance of winning the scoring title.

Buffalo has lost seven in a row but will be looking for a win here to clinch second place and home floor for the division semifinal against Toronto.

''It's pretty amazing to consider we've lost seven in a row because we're a better team than that,'' said GM Steve Dietrich. ''We've got to get a win. We have a real good record at home and we've struggled on the road. We want to play Toronto in our building.''

Right-hand shooter Joe Resetarits agrees.

''It's definitely going to be a big test for us to get the monkey off our backs,'' he said.

The pressure is on the offense.

''It just hasn't meshed,'' says Dietrich. ''We need more production out of our left side. If we're going to go anywhere, our left side has to step up or it's going to be a pretty short playoff run for us.''

Veteran defenseman Billy Dee Smith will remain out of the lineup Saturday but Dietrich says he'll likely be fit in time to face Toronto.

COLORADO (7-10) at PHILADELPHIA (6-11)

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