Week 4 of the 2016 NLL season featured a pair of Saturday matchups with two convincing wins by the Buffalo Bandits and Colorado Mammoth. Where do the teams rank headed into a busy Week 5 with five games on the schedule? Preview Brian Shanahan’s latest NLL Power Rankings below as the East and West Division standings begin to take shape.
“There were only two games in the National Lacrosse League this weekend and neither game showed us more than we already knew,” Shanahan writes.
In Buffalo, the Bandits were down 4-3 to the Toronto Rock early in the second quarter when the Bandits took over. From that point, Buffalo outscored Toronto 9-2 for a final 12-6 victory. The loss was Toronto’s fourth straight and obviously it provided no cure to their scoring struggles. Buffalo was led by Dhane Smith’s nine points.
In the only other game, the Colorado Mammooth won their fourth in a row as they easily handled the Vancouver Stealth, 14-5. Whatever mojo Vancouver had going in Saskatoon last weekend, it was gone when they got home.
1) Colorado Mammoth (4-0): Colorado’s 14-5 victory over Vancouver could have been much worse as the Mammoth scored the first 4 goals of the game and eventually built a 12-3 first-half lead. They continue to have the league’s best offence and were lead by John Grant Jr., Adam Jones and Callum Crawford who had 7, 7 and 6 points each. Next week will be Colorado’s big test as they travel to Saskatoon to play the defending champs.
3) Buffalo Bandits (2-1) (+1): The Buffalo Bandits easily handled the Toronto Rock 12-6 in what may have been the cleanest game in Buffalo Bandits v. Toronto Rock history. There were only 6 minutes in penalties. Dhane Smith scored 9 points for the Bandits and is making the transition to life without John Tavares a lot easier. After having a breakout 109 point season last year, the fourth year player, who just turned 24, is on pace to do even better this season. Next week the Bandits will meet the New England Black Wolves at Mohegan Sun Arena.
5) Saskatchewan Rush (1-1) (+1): The Rush, who had the weekend off, have looked rather ordinary so far this year but don’t forget that last year they started their season 0-2 before finishing the regular season 13-5 and winning their first NLL Championship. Next week would be a great time for the Rush to make a statement as they host the 4-0 Colorado Mammoth on Friday night.
7) Georgia Swarm (1-2) (+1): Georgia Swarm had the weekend off. They travel to Toronto to play the struggling Toronto Rock on Friday. The Swarm have already beaten the Rock once. This time they will be facing a desperate team with their backs to the wall.
9) Toronto Rock (0-4): It was more of the same for the Toronto Rock in their 12-6 loss to Buffalo. Toronto got off to a good start and was leading 4-3 early in the second quarter when the Bandits went on 7-goal run. Unlike previous years, this Toronto team has shown a lack of resilience. When things go bad, they seem to get worse and by midgame it looked like the offence had no confidence. With Kevin Ross back (2 goals), I liked Toronto’s lineup but now they are going to have to prove that time has not caught up with them and Friday’s game against Georgia is the closest to must win as you’ll ever see 5 games into a season.