For the first time in more than a month, the Georgia Swarm will return to the friendly confines of Infinite Energy Arena. Well, friendly confines might not exactly be the best descriptor. After winning their home opener, the Swarm dropped each of the next two home contests leading into a three game road trip.
The Swarm set out on the road at 2-2 and promptly dropped a game to the very New York Riptide they will be hosting Saturday night.
However, Ed Comeau’s team proved it’s resiliency by coming back with road victories against two teams they’re looking up at in the standings in Philadelphia and New England.
The Swarm players are very aware that if not for a blowing a 10-6 lead over the final ten minutes of their first contest in New York, they would be atop the division as opposed to being in third place.
The win for New York over Georgia is still the only win in team history for the first year franchise, but the one victory represents the fact that they can still win on any given night, something the Swarm obviously are aware of.
Defense has been problematic for the young franchise, allowing 42 goals in their three losses since their victory over the Swarm on January, 11.
The offense however has started to show some life, particularly with University of Maryland product and Team USA alum Connor Kelly beginning to perhaps find his way.
Kelly produced a quartet of goals plus an assist in their loss a week ago to Calgary. It was easily the best showing to date for the player selected third by the club in the expansion draft. Neutralizing him will be critical for the Swarm.
And that leads us to the enigma that has been the Swarm defense. The unit was historically great in the opening weeks of the season, albeit against less than intimidating competition, but was dreadful during their three game losing streak.
The victories in their last two outings were spearheaded by defensive improvement. After giving up 14 goals-per-game during their losing streak, the Swarm only allowed 10.5 per match over their wins at Philadelphia and New England.
Offensively you know what you’re going to get with the Swarm and against a beleaguered defense, and at home, not topping a dozen points would be a disappointment.
So the match will likely hinge on which defensive unit shows up for the Swarm. Considering what happened over the final ten minutes in New York, I would expect an angry and determined defense.