After four exciting National Lacrosse League games in Week 2 this past Saturday, Brian Shanahan has released his updated NLL Power Rankings on Inside Lacrosse to help fans sort out the early-season contenders and pretenders, all of whom still have plenty of work ahead in the young season.
“The National Lacrosse League world is upside down,” Shanny writes. “If you thought Week 1 had some surprising upsets, then Week 2 was even more of a shocker. Almost everyone who ranked the NLL teams coming into the season had Rochester, Edmonton and Calgary as the top 3 teams (not necessarily in that order). After Week 2, those three teams are a combined 0-6. Every IL staffer got at least 3 out of 4 games wrong this week. So what happened this week? Let’s start with the expected.”
1) (1 last week) Toronto Rock (2-0): The Toronto Rock were down 4-1 late in the first quarter when they went on a 14-2 tear to blow away the Vancouver Stealth for the second straight road victory to start the season. Rob Hellyer continues to prove he is now among the star players in the NLL as he scored 6 goals and 4 assists but Josh Sanderson is the early season story for the Toronto Rock as he scored 4 goals and 10 assists. Last week Sanderson picked up 7 assists and was the “Pinty’s Wingman of the Week”, a new NLL award given to the playmaker (assist king) of the week. Just hang on to that award Josh, no one else will be taking it from you this week. Toronto has next week off but will host the Buffalo Bandits on January 23 at the ACC and then travel to Rochester a Saturday night contest.
2) (+1) Colorado Mammoth (2-0): Over 15,000 fans went home happy and entertained after John Grant and the Colorado Mammoth defeated the Calgary Roughnecks 17-16 in a thrilling overtime victory. Last year’s rookie sensation (and Team Canada hero) Dillon Ward faced 58 shots on his way to the victory. Colorado has next weekend off but will host the Vancouver Stealth on Saturday January 24.
3) (+1) New England Black Wolves (2-0): Last week’s home opener victory over the Buffalo Bandits was a bit of a surprise but there’s always a nice adrenaline boost when you’re playing your first ever game in front of a packed arena. However, Saturday’s 17-7 drubbing of the Knighthawks is crazy. Let’s give credit where it is due. Kevin Crowley, who scored 6 goals and 4 assists, is a world class superstar. Pat Saunders and Kyle Buchanan are off to great starts this year and goaltender Evan Kirk has been solid. New England is not going to threaten Edmonton’s 14-game win streak of last year but they have to be pleased that they have started the season with two wins against East Division opponents. The Black Wolves will play their third straight home game when they face the Minnesota Swarm in two weeks on Saturday January 24.
8) (-1) Edmonton Rush (0-2): The Edmonton Rush sent their fans home in shock as they lost their second game in a row after blowing a 9-3 third quarter lead against the Minnesota Swarm. It appears that the Rush are missing the leadership of their coach Derek Keenan, who announced before the season that he would be taking a leave of absence to be with his ailing wife Wendy and his family. Wendy passed about a week ago and we all hope that Derek spends as much time as needed with his loved ones. I don’t know when, but I believe coach Keenan will be back sometime this season. It has become obvious that the Rush don’t have the same confidence without their head coach on the bench. Edmonton’s next game is in two weeks in Calgary.
9) (-3) Rochester Knighthawks (0-2): Losing a close home game to the Toronto Rock (as the Knighthawks did last week) is nothing to be too concerned about but Saturday, the Rochester Knighthawks were dominated from start to finish by the New England Black Wolves. Is it possible that the departure of Johnny Powless, Joel McCready (and the Steven Keogh injury) has hurt Rochester’s chemistry more than expected? It’s too early to tell but one thing is certain. The mood is not good in Rochester this morning. Rochester will host Toronto for a second time this season two weeks from now.