The Colorado Mammoth are returning to the Pepsi Center for their final two games of the 2018 NLL Season. This Saturday, the Mammoth end their regular season stretch going up against the win-or-they’re-out New England Black Wolves.
Although the Mammoth have clinched the second-seed and a home playoff game in the West Division Semi-Finals, Head Coach Pat Coyle says that the team is still going to approach their final two games with a high-level of competitiveness.
“What I really like, though,” Coyle said of his next two opponents. “Is that the team’s that we’re playing against are still fighting for a playoff spot – this is basically a do-or-die game for New England, and I think that’s best for us. We need to get into playoff mode, and the best way to do that is to be playing against teams that are in playoff mode.”
Getting into playoff mode shouldn’t just prepare the Mammoth for the atmosphere and intensity of postseason play, but would likely help turn the team’s recent results around. Despite strong outings, the Mammoth have lost three of their last four games following their season-long five game win streak. The lowly stretch is not of any concern to Coyle, however.
“Three of our six losses this season are against Saskatchewan, and they are the first place team in the league,” Coyle said speaking of the team’s losses to their recent competitors. “Our lose to Rochester came at the end of a long month on a back-to-back weekend. I thought we competed really well and they’re arguably the second-best team in the league. I still feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
The Mammoth will need to continue heading in the right direction to start winning again. Maintaining an optimal lineup would be essential to do that. So, while the Mammoth might have some wiggle room in these final two regular season games to make adjustments, Coyle is satisfied that the guys he’s been putting on the turf are the right collection of players to bring his team back to the win column.
“If we feel like we needed to [change the lineup] we’d do that,” Coyle said of making team adjustments. “But, I don’t think we need to. We do have the second-best record in the league, and that’s from our lineup being pretty much the same the last half of the season, so I don’t feel the need to make any changes.”
Outside of searching for a win, a couple of Mammoth players are closing in on milestones that could be reached this weekend. Sharpshooter, Ryan Benesch, is four goals shy of the 400- mark for his career. Second-year forward, Jacob Ruest, who is having a breakout season is also just five points short of his 100th career point. The odds are much higher for Ruest to hit the milestone this weekend as he has collected a minimum of five-points in half of the team’s 16 games this year while Benesch has scored 4+ goals only twice this season.
In a message to his team, Coyle made a point to mention, “I really hope we embrace that fact that our playoffs start this Saturday.” If the game is to be as advertised, then the contest will be a playoff-like battle and one that shouldn’t be missed. To follow the game, you can watch it this Saturday, April 14th at 9:00 pm EST on NLLTV.com.