The Calgary Roughnecks (8-8) will look to earn their second straight win Friday night when they welcome the league-leading Georgia Swarm (12-4) into the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Roughnecks locked up a playoff spot two weeks ago, but are still in a tight battle to determine home-field advantage for the postseason.
But although they would like the opportunity to open the 2019 NLL Playoffs at home, head coach Curt Malawsky said it’s not something they’re focused on.
“If you start looking at the big picture of fighting for that home playoff game, you get distracted from what’s important, which is playing the game and the shift in front of you,” said Malawsky.
“In the past, we’ve done that. We win a game and we start thinking we’re better than what we are, and we start getting away from what makes us successful.”
The Roughnecks will see a familiar face in Swarm colors Friday night in Holden Cattoni, who was traded to the Swarm in the off-season.
Cattoni has had a break-out year for the Swarm, currently sitting at 72 points (22 goals, 50 assists), and Malawsky said it’s no surprise to see him having this much success at such a young age.
“Holden Cattoni is a great lacrosse player. That trade we made at the draft was a lot to do with logistics,” said Malawsky.
“I’m sure Holden will be excited to play against his old team, and we’re excited to see him as a person. We think he’s a great guy, good player, and we wish him the best. But we’re going to do everything we can to try and neutralize him.”
Cattoni isn’t the only Swarm player having a big season offensively, as Lyle Thompson (93 points), Randy Staats (92 points), and Shayne Jackson (70 points) are also finding the scoresheet with regularity.
Malawsky said the Swarm run an elite offense-by-committee approach, and the Roughnecks defense will have to be at its best to slow them down.
“I think their offense-by-committee is something to be modeled around. Every single guy moves their feet, every single guy is involved in the offense. There’s no predictability with them,” said Malawsky.
“It’s a very complete offense and we’re going to have to play a very complete defensive game.”
Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie has had no problem finding the scoresheet himself this year as he leads the NLL in scoring with 99 points (39 goals, 60 assists).
And while the Roughnecks do need to focus on finding the back of the net themselves Friday night, Dobbie said it’s going to be important to help out their goaltender, Christian Del Bianco, as best they can to slow down the high-powered Swarm offense.
“We have a great, young goaltender back there. Christian’s held us in a lot of games and won us a lot of games this year,” said Dobbie.
“We need to limit their shots, keep the shots from the outside as much as possible, let Christian see those shots, and hopefully we’re successful that way.”
One area the Roughnecks have struggled to find consistency this season is winning at home. They currently hold a 3-4 record at the Saddledome.
Heading into a potential home playoff game, if all goes well, Dobbie said it’s important for them to figure out how to take advantage of playing in Calgary.
“We’re going to come out and try and put together a game at home, which we haven’t done in awhile,” said Dobbie.
“I think it’s very important for us to get our feet wet back in the Saddledome and hopefully get the win.”