A light schedule in the National Lacrosse League with three games are on the slate. All killer no filler here though as each contest has high stakes divisional consequences as we start to approach the last two months of the regular season.
NLL staff members Andy McNamara, Renee Washington, Devan Kaney, 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.
2018 Game Picks Standings:
Let’s get to the predictions below!
Buffalo Bandits (8-2) at Rochester Knighthawks (2-6) – Friday, 7:30pm ET
This is the rubber match season series tiebreaker between these two interstate rivals. The home team came out on top in dominant fashion in the pair of encounters. Buffalo spanked the Knighthawks 13-4 at the start of January then Rochester returned the favor with an impressive 18-13 victory two weeks later…what can we expect Friday?!
Former K-Hawk goalie, and current Bandit netminder, Matt Vinc owns the best GAA of any full time starting goaltender at 10.48. However, he didn’t fare too well in his first visit back to Rochester when he allowed 13-goals. Maybe that was a case of the jitters…I don’t see the Vinc or red hot Buffalo slipping up on this road trip.
The series is tied 1-1 in this rivalry with Austin Shanks seven goal game still vividly in the memory of the Bandits. I think Buffalo edge the Knighthawks to win this one to take the series.
Buffalo is inches away from first place in the East, while the Knighthawks are in second to last. I don’t think the Knighthawks’ offensive weapons like Kyle Jackson and Joe Resetarits will get enough balls past Buffalo goalie Matt Vinc to pull off a win. Gotta go with the Bandits on this one.
Tweet @NLL using #BUFvsROC
Colorado Mammoth (3-5) at Saskatchewan Rush (4-4) – Friday, 8:30pm ET
Having won two-in-a-row it looks like the Mammoth may have finally shook off whatever early season slump they were in. The West is completely up for grabs with Saskatchewan, Calgary and San Diego all tied for top spot with .500 records. A victory would jump Colorado into third place.
The Rush don’t seem like themselves and are clearly missing the offseason departures on defense. I see this as a hard hitting, low scoring grinder with the visitors edging out a one goal “W”.
This is a huge divisional game between the Mammoth and Rush. Colorado are coming off an impressive road win over the Swarm. Saskatchewan broke their three game losing streak with a win over Vancouver last weekend. It’s the first time these two face off this season. I am not sure who to pick, but I’m going with a hungry Mammoth team to break into being a half game back from the top spot in the division.
The last time they played at the SaskTel Centre, the Rush lost at home for the first time this season. The crowd left early. Morale was low. I don’t think the reigning champs are going to let that happen again. Going with the Rush here.
Tweet @NLL using #COLvsSSK
Toronto Rock (7-1) at New England Black Wolves (5-4) – Sunday, 1pm ET
Toronto is on fire winning six straight and a perfect 3-0 away from Scotia Bank Arena. The Black Wolves remain a riddle of inconsistency; however, they are proving to be a difficult place to visit with an impressive 4-1 home record.
New England can start to make idle Georgia sweat with a victory and creep a half game out of third in the East. We know the Rock can score, but the interesting battle to me comes down to Callum Crawford versus Nick Rose. The Black Wolves Crawford is coming off a two game 18-point weekend, while Rose is near the top of the NLL for GAA and save percentage.
The Rock start slow and pull away late to take it.
Coming off a split doubleheader weekend versus the Wings, the Black Wolves need this win as they are looking to climb back into the top 3 of the division. However, the Rock have won six straight and are 4-1 on the season in games that have come down to one goal. If this game, stays close, I think the Rock pull it out. Someone has to knock the Rock from the top spot, but I don’t think this is the week.
The Rock have been playing some incredible lacrosse this season. The Black Wolves have proven they can beat top teams, but inconsistently, and that just won’t hold up against Toronto. I’m taking the Rock to get their 7th straight victory and hold onto the top spot in the East.
Tweet @NLL using #TORvsNE
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.