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GAME PICKS: NLL – Week 1

Opening weekend for the 2018 National Lacrosse League season is finally here! The Georgia Swarm begin their defense of the Champion’s Cup as everyone else tries to dethrone them. Four games kickoff #FACEOFFWKND starting Friday Dec. 8th

 

NLL staff members Andy McNamara, Ashley Docking, Tyson Geick, and Brian Shanahan deliver their game predictions every week.

Send us your picks @NLL on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the specific game hashtags for each match-up below.

 

Georgia Swarm at New England Black Wolves- Friday, 7:30pm ET

Andy

Famed pro-wrestler ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair has a saying, “to be the man, you got to beat the man”. What a way it would be to start off the 2018 campaign for New England to knock off the champs. I just don’t see it happening with the embarrassment of riches that Georgia has on offense. I see the Swarm securing the victory.

Pick: Swarm

 

Ashley

The champs are here and despite it being a new season and New England adding some key pieces, I️ don’t expect Georgia to miss a beat. Last year they dominated the season series, including dropping 21 points on NE back in April. I️ know the Black Wolves made a goalie swap for Aaron Bold and it’ll be exciting to see what he does for his new team, but the Swarm managed to put 31 goals past him in the Champion’s Cup finals while Bold was a member of the Rush.

Pick: Swarm

 

Tyson

I’ve got a feeling this will be a close game. Georgia’s going to be without a few key pieces on the back end. I still think they’ve got the offense to take down the Black Wolves whose defense will still be gelling.

Pick: Swarm

 

Shanny

Pick: Swarm

 

Tweet @NLL your prediction using #GAvsNE

 

Toronto Rock at Buffalo Bandits- Friday, 7:30pm ET 

Andy

The Rock are a fascinating group this season. What does Tom Schreiber have for an encore in his second NLL season? What about a returning Rob Hellyer and the addition of Adam Jones? Toronto is primed for a big year, but we all know how difficult it is to play in Bandit Land. Buffalo looks to retool one year removed from a Champion’s Cup final appearance. They are on their way, however, that journey won’t begin on Friday

Pick: Rock

 

Ashley

Theoretically the trio of Dhane Smith, Callum Crawford and rookie Josh Byrne could be enough firepower to beat the Rock, but I️ just don’t think it’s going to happen in Week 1.

Toronto is poised to be a contender with a stout defence, strong goaltending and they’re ushering Rob Hellyer back on to the turf to complement the likes of Stephan LeBlanc, Tom Schreiber and new face Adam Jones. They’re just too much to overcome for most opponents, it just happens to be the Bandits this week.

Pick: Rock

 

Tyson

I think Toronto’s the most improved team from in the NLL 2017 to 2018. I like the fact that Buffalo got a lot younger, faster and stronger in the off season… I just think the Rock beat them at doing just that.

Pick: Rock

 

Shanny

Pick: Rock

 

Tweet @NLL your prediction using #TORvsBUF

 

Colorado Mammoth at Vancouver Stealth- Friday, 10:30pm ET

Andy

The Mammoth have too many player departures and injuries to deal with out of the gate. I believe this is a playoff team, but Vancouver is ready to start strong after the franchise secured its first playoff berth in Canada last season. Give me the home team here.

Pick: Stealth

 

Ashley

Simply put, Dillon Ward is the best goalie in the NLL (at least until someone dethrones him). Early in the year when teams are still trying to gel, acclimate to NLL game speed, and feeling new teammates, a star goalie who can comes up with some big saves will be a difference maker. Colorado bests Vancouver, just like in the post-season last year.

Pick: Mammoth

 

Tyson

The Stealth will be looking for revenge in this one, as the Mammoth knocked them out in round one of the 2017 playoffs. I think the Mammoth will still be getting familiar with themselves as a unit.

Pick: Stealth

 

Shanny

Pick: Stealth

 

Tweet @NLL your prediction using #COLvsVAN

 

 

Calgary Roughnecks at Rochester Knighthawks- Saturday, 7:30pm ET 

Andy

The Knighthawks are young, but I’m bullish on the upside of this group. Several second year players, mixed with rookies and a sprinkling of veterans gives hosting Rochester a slight edge. This will be a fun one to watch and I think it will be a stressfully close finish.

Pick: Knighthawks

 

Ashley

Neither of these teams had prolific scoring seasons last year, both missed the playoffs (Calgary for the first time since 2002) and both needed to make changes in the offseason. Rochester beefed up its defence in hopes that with the chance at some consistency in their line-up they can turn things around in 2018. However, the X-factor Saturday will be  game changing offensive weapon in Curtis Dickson. Between him & Dane Dobbie and a few fresh faces on D, Roughnecks reign Week 1.

Pick: Roughnecks

 

Tyson

It’s time for the Roughnecks to go to work, they have to have a big start to their season after a disappointing 2017. The Knighthawks roster is extremely youthful, I just I think that squad will need some time to gel.

Pick: Roughnecks

 

Shanny

Pick: Roughnecks

 

Tweet @NLL your prediction using #CGYvsROC

 

Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV.com, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sport talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81.

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