February 18, 2011
Toronto Rock forward Colin Doyle (2g, 3a) evades Rochester Knighthawks defenseman Sid Smith. © Rich Barnes
Toronto Rock forward Colin Doyle (2g, 3a) evades Rochester Knighthawks defenseman Sid Smith. © Rich Barnes

NLL Week 7 Floor Pass: Previews, Audio

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Colin Doyle and the first place Toronto Rock are just a half game ahead of Ian Rubel and the Rochester Knighthawks in the East heading into the teams' home-and-home weekend series.

© Rich Barnes

As the National Lacrosse League reaches its midseason, the All-Star game is on the horizon next weekend. But before that, there are some important conference games, highlighted in Week 7 by a home-and-home series between the East-leading Toronto Rock and the Rochester Knighthawks, who sit just a half-game behind Toronto in the standings.

Here's a look at this weekend's six 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 game times are local.)

Rochester Knighthawks (4-2) at Toronto Rock (5-2), Friday 7:30 p.m.
Toronto Rock (5-2) at Rochester Knighthawks (4-2), Saturday 7:35 p.m.

"Things are starting to come together," Knighthawks first-year coach Mike Hasen said this week. The Knighthawks have won their last two games against Philadelphia and Minnesota and have a chance to overtake Toronto in the East. A sweep would do it, but Rochester could find itself with a 4-4 record after this weekend as well. "It's really big," Hasen said of this weekend. Toronto won at Rochester, 12-9, in Week 2.

Listen to Knighthawks coach Mike Hasen talk about if Rochester has "turned the corner," Shawn Evans' offensive production, and how a 16-7 loss to Boston three weeks ago was a wakeup call.

Listen to Toronto GM and assistant coach Terry Sanderson on improvements he'd like to see, what he can take from the Rock's Week 2 win over Rochester and the season-ending injury to Ryan Sharp.

Colorado Mammoth (1-5) at Washington Stealth (3-5), Friday 8 p.m.

Two West teams on the wrong side of a .500 record meet Friday night in Washington. This is the first of two games for the Mammoth this weekend and they could use a win, having taken their most lopsided loss of the season last week to Boston, 11-6, after a series of either one or two-goal losses in their first four defeats.

Washington coach Chris Hall said his defense needs to get better, and was asked if the offense may be pressing, too. Not good talking points for the league's defending champion.

Listen to Colorado coach Bob Hamley's approach to this game, the two close losses to Washington this year, power play struggles, and who will start in goal.

Listen to Washington Stealth coach Chris Hall talk about how his team needs to get better defensively and if the offense is pressing.

Philadelphia Wings (3-4) at Buffalo Bandits (4-2), Saturday 7:30 p.m.
Buffalo beat Philadelphia, 16-7, just a week ago so it will be interesting to see if the Wings can close the gap in just a week's time. But, on the other hand, Philadelphia does have this going for them: The Wings won the YouTube clip of the Week with footage of veteran Paul Dawson rocking Bandits rookie Travis Irving with an uninhibited, clean punch to the chin. See it here. "Chalk that up to learning experience," Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour said of Irving, "If he remembers it."

Listen to Wings assistant coach Tom Slate talk about coming off a loss, his first season as an assistant, John Christmas and Max Seibald, and what to make of East teams having a 9-1 record against the West.

Listen to Bandits assistant coach Rich Kilgour on last week, John Tavares reaching 700 goals, the status of Irving and thoughts on the East vs. West.

Boston Blazers (5-3) at Minnesota Swarm (3-3), Saturday 7:30 p.m.

Ryan Powell will miss his second straight game for Boston as he and his wife are expecting their first child. But don't pay attention to the Blazers' high-powered offense anyway, coach Matt Sawyer said. The defense and goaltender Anthony Cosmo have been dependable thus far. LMO's Neil Stevens detailed that this week. "They've been the best part of our team this year," Sawyer said on Wednesday's conference call. "We want to make sure we're solid from the back end out." Boston has allowed six, seven and seven goals in the last three games.

Listen to Boston coach Matt Sawyer talk winning three straight games, Boston's strong 'D'  and Ryan Powell.

Listen to Minnesota coach Mike Lines on the challenge of facing Boston, the recent trade for Jamie Shewcuck and faceoff woes.

Calgary Roughnecks (4-3) at Edmonton Rush (2-5), Sunday 2 p.m.

The Battle of Alberta is renewed once more. Calgary swept a home-and-home series with Edmonton just a few weeks ago, but now the Rush is coming off earning its first two wins of the season in a home-and-home series with Washington. "On Friday there was relief for sure and Saturday was the feeling of confidence back again," Edmonton coach Derek Keenan said. "We were a confident group going into Washington Saturday night. Now we just have to keep it going."

Listen to Calgary coach Dave Pym on facing Edmonton for a third time, Derek Hopcroft's move in and out of the lineup and Daryl Veltman.

Listen to Edmonton coach Derek Keenan on trading for Washington's Tyler Codron, on getting its first two wins last weekend, Gavin Prout and Scott Evans.

Minnesota Swarm (3-3) at Colorado Mammoth (1-5), Sunday 6 p.m.

This is the second of two weekend games for both Minnesota and Colorado and the first meeting between the two this season, until they face each other gain in Week 8. "We've certainly had our battles with them in the past," Minnesota coach Mike Lines said, then noting the offseason moves Colorado made to improve its team. But those moves haven't paid off for the Mammoth thus far. They've suffering a string of close defeats and a five-goal loss to Boston last weekend.

Listen to Minnesota coach Mike Lines talk about coming off a loss at Rochester, the matchup with Colorado and Rory Smith.

Listen to Colorado coach Bob Hamley on facing the Swarm and the difference between East and West teams.

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