December 19, 2013

NLL West Division Preview: Calgary Roughnecks

by Neil Stevens | | NLL 2014 Preview

Reigning NLL MVP and scoring champ Shawn Evans leads the league's top offense. Calgary averaged 14 goals per game in 2013. (Photo by Brad Watson)

2013 record: 9-7

Playoffs: Beat Colorado 15-10 in first playoff round; lost 14-13 at home to Washington in West final.


Since winning the National Lacrosse League title in 2009, Calgary has not advanced as far in the playoffs as expected.

The Roughnecks offense, sparked by league scoring champ and MVP Shawn Evans, ranked No. 1 with 222 goals (14 per game) last season. On the flip side, no team allowed more than the 211 goals Calgary relinquished.

So it's no mystery to general manager Mike Board that the back end is the area most in need of improvement.

"We started at the draft by getting Tor Reinholdt and Carson Leung, who we can use as transition guys coming out of the back end," Board said. "We also drafted Garrett McIntosh, who can be a big body back there. We're building our defense through the draft.

"We'll take a look during training camp at how our guys are doing and hopefully improve on that side."

Goaltender Mike Poulin played a ton of minutes -- too many, perhaps -- as he finished with the poorest save percentage among first-stringers in 2013.

"Did we overuse Mike? Was he tired by the end of the season? Could we have used Frankie Scigliano more? That's something we should like at, using our backup goalie a bit more instead of throwing Mike into the fire every game," Board said.

Neil Stevens' NLL 2014 Season Preview (in projected order of finish)

NLL East Preview

1. Rochester Knighthawks
2. Minnesota Swarm
3. Toronto Rock
4. Buffalo Bandits
5. Philadelphia Wings 

NLL West Division

1. Edmonton Rush
2. Calgary Roughnecks
3. Vancouver Stealth
4. Colorado Mammoth
» Where are the Americans?  

Forward Joe Restarits was traded to Buffalo and transition player Nolan Heavenor retired.

Still, there's plenty left in the cupboard, starting with Evans, the diminuitive (5-foot-9) forward who is in his prime at age 27. The feed-first Evans scored 32 goals to go with his 80 assists last season.

"We like our offense," Board said. "We think it can continue to be one of the most effective in the league. We've got the legs to be able to create more of a transition game. That would take some pressure off the defense and compliment the offense. We like the blend we have."

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