By Andy McNamara/NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo by Jack Dempsey
Stock Up : Vancouver Stealth
No club’s stock can be higher than one that opened their season with a pair of road wins on back-to-back nights. Coming off of a last place finish in the West in 2016, the Vancouver Stealth put the division on notice by first edging Calgary 12-11 and followed that up with an impressive 15-9 ”W” in Colorado.
The early resurgence of goaltender Tyler Richards and aggressive defense allowed the impressive offense to flourish. Rhys Duch and Corey Small were monsters, as each delivered 16 points over the weekend. However, what stands out about the Stealth attack is the diversity in goal scoring. Seven different players recorded a tally versus the Roughnecks and six did so in downing the Mammoth.
Vancouver can send a real message to the NLL if they take the second of four meetings in the season series against Calgary in their home opener Saturday.
Stock Down: New England Black Wolves
The Black Wolves made a splash this offseason by adding veterans Chad Culp, Jay Thorimbert, and Scott Self. The defensive end is expected to be vastly improved in 2017, while still possessing a dynamic offense led by studs Shawn Evans and Kevin Crowley. Oh, and they have the reigning Goalie of the Year in Evan Kirk.
One bad game does not a season make, but the 15-8 defeat in Week 2 to the Knighthawks was certainly disappointing for a team that is a legitimate contender to win the East. The retooled defense gave up six unanswered goals in the fourth quarter, while the penalty kill unit was throttled by nine Rochester power play conversions on 11 penalties. The competition doesn’t get any easier for New England as they head to Colorado next.
Stock Up: Nick Rose – G – Toronto Rock
It’s only one outing, but the Rock made a statement in traveling to Rochester Week 1 with a decisive 12-5 victory. There’s a lot of youth in Toronto this season and that’s why the efforts inbetween the pipes of nine-year pro Nick Rose will be so imperative to any team success.
Well, Rose got off to the best start of any netminder from around the NLL as he has allowed the fewest goals in any one game through six total league contests. A stellar 0.896 save percentage and 5.00 GAA is going to be tested this Saturday night against an angry Saskatchewan crew that was embarrassed in Georgia this past weekend.
Stock Down: Adam Jones – F – Saskatchewan Rush
It was the blockbuster trade of the offseason. The defending Champion’s Cup victors, dealt one of their core championship pieces, Zack Greer, to Colorado for 2012 Rookie of the Year Adam Jones.
Jones is three years younger with arguably a greater offensive upside than Greer. It’s a single appearance for the Canisius alum, and I have no doubt that he will become an excellent cog in the title machine that is Saskatchewan. However, for the hype coming into this 2017 campaign Jones underwhelmed in the loss to the Swarm.
There were travel issues to Georgia that may have thrown the team off and the Owen Sound, ON native is going to inevitably need a bit of time to settle in with his new teammates. It will be interesting to see how he responds in Toronto on Saturday.
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.