The Calgary Roughnecks (6-9) will look to keep their foot on the gas pedal when they welcome the Buffalo Bandits (5-8) to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
The Roughnecks are coming off a strong 11-9 road victory over the Rochester Knighthawks, which stretched their winning streak to two games.
Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky said the Bandits present a far bigger challenge than it may appear on paper, and his squad will need to be firing on all cylinders to extend their winning streak.
“After watching film all week on Buffalo, they’re not a 5-8 team,” said Malawsky. “They have a fantastic offence, a big, physical, strong defence, and they’re getting good goaltending.”
Malawsky said a big reason for his team’s success of late has been the execution of the “little things.”
He said they need to continue taking care of the ball, minimizing their mistakes, and not beat themselves.
“When you’re playing a good team like Buffalo and making mistakes, not only are you playing against a very good team, but you’re also beating yourself,” said Malawsky. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
The Bandits currently sit last in the league in total shots and shots on goal with 938 and 662 respectively, but still manage to boast the third best shooting percentage.
Malawsky said although the Bandits don’t shoot the ball as much as most teams, they’re strategically selective with when they decide to fire, which requires the defence to always be in the right spot.
“They methodically pick you apart,” said Malawsky. “It’s going to be important to get in their lanes and try to take guys out of their comfort zone.”
The Roughnecks offence has been on a roll lately, thanks in large part to efforts such as forward Dane Dobbie’s seven-point outing last weekend.
They’ve now scored double digit goals in five of their last six games, including two 18-goal efforts over that stretch.
“We’re just playing together right now,” said Dobbie. “It’s more desperation lacrosse than anything for us.”
Despite a 6-9 record, the Roughnecks are very much in the playoff race, but can ill afford a loss if they want to remain playoff-relevant.
Dobbie said they’ve been treating each game down the stretch as if it’s a win-or-go-home playoff game, and will continue with the same mentality on Saturday.
“It’s like game three of the playoffs now for us,” said Dobbie. “It’s one of those games that’s a must-win to keep our heads above ground and keep going.”
The Roughnecks currently trail the Vancouver Stealth by half a game for the final playoff spot in the west division.
On the offensive front, forward Curtis Dickson leads the way for the Roughnecks with 86 points, while Dhane Smith heads the attack for the Bandits with 62 points.
The Roughnecks fourth ranked penalty kill will face a tall task against a Bandits power play ranked first in the NLL at over 60 per cent efficiency.
The Bandits head into Saturday’s game looking to break the Roughnecks winning streak, but also to snap their own two-game losing streak.
Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. MST Saturday night.