By Scott Zerr | NLL.com Staff Writer
Well at least the Saskatchewan Rush don’t have to dwell too long on their least-impressive performance of the season.
After last weekend’s game against the Vancouver Stealth – a 13-9 loss that GM/head coach Derek Keenan called “sloppy” – the Rush have to get right back at it with a critical divisional matchup against the Colorado Mammoth. And at least it’s back home at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon where the Rush are 4-0 on the year, including an 8-7 win over Colorado just three weeks ago.
Executing the game plan, following up scouting reports, and paying attention to the details have been talked about all season when the Rush are coming off a loss. The recurring theme is starting to frustrate Keenan, but he’s far from pressing the panic button. After all, the Rush do lead the West Division – one-half game up on Colorado with a game in-hand – and have one of the best records in the league thanks to a six-game winning streak that was finally snuffed out by the Stealth.
“This is a big bounce back game before we go into our bye week,” said Rush defenceman Brett Mydske. “We have got to start getting separation in our division. I think we just have to refocus. There aren’t many games, but it is a long season. We just have to get our head right and pay attention to the small details in our game plan.”
Things are far from bad, but the Rush want to be better and have been preaching about it since the first week of the season.
“It’s a little bit frustrating when you continue to make the same mistakes,” said Keenan. “But it is good to know that we have better in us. We still have a lot of confidence in this group. There’s no panic, but we need to be better in most areas, and we need to be more consistent.”
The Rush did manage a few good things against the Stealth, but they were outhustled numerous times, shut out from scoring in the crucial fourth quarter with the game on the line, and gave up six transition goals plus a pair of shorthanded goals. Saskatchewan got off to strong start in the opening frame then derailed its own momentum with a costly too many men penalty. Throw them all into the slow cooker and 60 minutes later they had lost a game they could have easily won.
“We let one slip away,” added Keenan. “We did some things that are very uncharacteristic for our group like four or five guys standing around and not reacting when we turn the ball over twice and give up the shorthanded goals. The too many men call was blatant. We had seven or eight guys on the floor. That’s about not being focused and those kinds of things killed us.
“But we’re looking forward to being better, and we have to be better. Colorado is playing very well and it’s going to be another tough divisional game. There’s never an easy one.”
The Rush have become accustomed to meeting Colorado in important regular-season games, perhaps none more so than a home-and-home weekend series last year. After taking the opener in Denver, the Rush returned to Saskatchewan and secured victory in the back end of the double-dip which clinched first place and home-turf advantage for the West Division Final.
RUSH NOTES: The setback against the Stealth was the Rush’s first loss in five games this season when they have led after the first quarter … Saskatchewan continues to sit atop the NLL’s attendance ladder with an average of 14,897 fans per game, which is about 700 more than Buffalo although the Bandits have played two more home games than the Rush.