Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.15.2013 at 11.48 a.m. by Neil Stevens

NLL Week 11: Swarm, Mammoth Desperate for Fourth Win

Four games, all on Saturday, make up the NLL's Week 11 schedule as teams jockey for position heading towards the playoffs. The matchups:

TORONTO (7-3) AT PHILADELPHIA (5-4), 1 p.m. ET


The Rock, hoping to gain a comfortable cushion atop the East Division, are coming off a 14-10 home win over Colorado and are 4-1 on the road this season.

''We're obviously pleased with the record but . . . we want to get better each week,'' said GM Terry Sanderson. ''Philadelphia has lately been a very tough matchup for us, which has us very much concerned.''

In one previous meeting, Philadelphia rallied for an 8-7 win in Toronto on Jan. 19.

''Some teams we find are tougher to play against than others,'' said Sanderson. ''For some reason Philly seems to be that club right now.''

The Rock could clinch a playoff spot.

''It would be nice to knock that off the list,'' said captain Colin Doyle. ''We feel pretty good about our record but . . . things can change quickly in this league. It's going to be a very important game in the grand scheme of things.''

The Wings are coming off a 16-10 home loss to Washington when they were without injured players Brodie Merrill, Brett Manney and Jeff Reynolds. Their status for Saturday is uncertain. Merrill, the Wings' captain, has a concussion so is least likely to dress. Brendan Mundorf has been out all season and the veteran forward is anxious to get back into the lineup.

''He was at practice last weekend and he was really feeling good,'' said GM Johnny Mouradian.

The league announced late Thursday that Wings goalie Brandon Miller has been suspended for one game for being the third man in a fight last Saturday. He can appeal. If he serves the suspension, Mouradian would have to start little-used backup Kevin Croswell. The Wings acquired the rights to retired goalie Mike Thompson, who was with Buffalo last year, for a third-round draft pick at the trading deadline.

WASHINGTON (7-4) AT MINNESOTA (3-7), 7 p.m. ET


Washington, coming off a 16-10 win in Philadelphia that stretched its winning streak to three, looks to increase its lead atop the West Division and clinch a playoff spot.

''We want to do everything we can to accomplish that feat on the weekend,'' said coach Chris Hall.

Minnesota lost its third in a row, 19-15 at Calgary, last weekend and desperately needs to pull out of its tailspin. A 60-minute effort is vital this weekend, said forward Jay Card.

''That's what we're striving for,'' said Card.

The teams split two earlier games as the Swarm won 15-14 at home Jan. 26 and the Stealth won 11-8 at home March 3 when Tyler Richards played one of his best games of the season.

''We're expecting another tough battle with a team we've split with so far,'' Hall said.

Washington has won four of its last five.

''We've been playing well and developing some chemistry,'' said forward Athan Iannucci.

The Stealth want to do more than clinch a playoff spot, he added. They want to keep winning and earn home-floor advantage for the playoffs.

The league has suspended Stealth players Jeff Moleski, Mitch McMichael and Justin Pychel one game each for incidents in a game at Philadelphia last Saturday so their availability this weekend is dependent on whether or not appeals are filed.

EDMONTON (5-5) AT ROCHESTER (4-5), 7:30 p.m. ET


This is the first meeting since Edmonton lost the championship game 9-6 in Rochester last May.

''That's behind us,'' said Rush captain Jimmy Quinlan. ''We're looking forward to a new challenge this weekend.''

Both teams had byes last weekend.

''We're looking forward to getting back at it and picking back up where we left off a couple of weeks ago,'' said head coach Mike Hasen.

The Knighthawks got defenseman Jon Sullivan from Colorado for forward Casey Powell in a trade Tuesday.

''He's a steady back-end guy who plays his role very well,'' said Hasen. ''We'll pencil him in to play a lot of minutes in key situations for us.''

Rochester further beefed up the back end with the acquisition of Scott Self and Jimmy Purves from Buffalo before the Wednesday trading deadline.

''Obviously, 4-5 is not where we want to be at this time,'' said defenceman Rory Glaves. ''We definitely haven't hit the panic button but there is a sense of urgency.''

Purves and Sullivan have each been suspended for one game after a league review of last weekend's brawls involving their former teams.

Rochester is 1-4 at home.

Edmonton GM-coach Derek Keenan made no personnel moves before the deadline.

''We like the group we have,'' he said during the NLL's weekly conference call Wednesday.

BUFFALO (5-5) AT COLORADO (3-7), 9 p.m. ET

TV/Online: Altitude in Colorado,

A last-minute line brawl in Colorado's 12-6 win in Buffalo last Saturday is unlikely to be repeated given that Buffalo's Billy Dee Smith, David Brock and Nick Cotter and Colorado's Chet Koneczny, Rich Morgan and Ilija Gajic have been handed one-game suspensions for brawling in Buffalo.

Buffalo blew a 3-0 lead in that one.

''We've got to put the hard hats on and finish games from here on out,'' said assistant Bandits coach Rich Kilgour.

The Mammoth broke a five-game losing streak with an exhilarating comeback in Buffalo. Adding Casey Powell in a trade with Rochester fuels the momentum.

''We're looking for him to give us a spark on offense,'' said coach Bob Hamley.

''They'll be re-energized after getting Powell,'' said Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo. ''If we don't bring our best we're going to wind up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.''

The Bandits are 3-1 on the road.

''I liked our intensity in Tuesday's practice,'' said Cosmo. ''If we keep that intensity up this weekend we'll be a handful for Colorado.''

Buffalo got a second-round 2013 draft pick from Rochester for Purves.

''It's kind of sad to see him go,'' said Kilgour. ''But we need some draft picks after giving away a lot of draft picks the last couple of years.''

Buffalo's offense gets a boost with the insertion of Kedoh Hill who comes over the Self deal.

John Tavares is likely to return to the lineup after sitting out last week with a recurring calf muscle problem.