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Week 16 Power Rankings

Well, it’s fair to say that Week 15’s results have made this final countdown to the 2024 NLL Trade Deadline even more interesting. The league’s top teams continued to shine (with a few hiccups along the way), but, outside of the top three or four teams, nearly every other team is still fighting to finish the season in a playoff position. Each week, there is lots of movement in the standings, especially between the teams in the 6th to 12th positions. With all of the jockeying for position from top to bottom, how will this effect tomorrow’s trade deadline? Who will be buying and who will be selling? We’ll have this all figured out as we near the 3 p.m. EST deadline. Almost as important, how will this week’s results impact the power rankings? Let’s find out.

 

#8 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (6-6)

Week 15 Result: 9-8 OT win at Philadelphia Wings
Week 16 Opponent: at Halifax Thunderbirds (7-6)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Panther City is back in the Top 8 after a gutsy overtime victory in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon – and they managed to win without Callum Crawford (the team’s leading goal scorer this season) in the lineup. The narrow win marks their fifth result decided by one goal in their last six games. They are 3-2 in their last five games, and one of those losses was an overtime loss to the San Diego Seals. Will Malcom has put up 19 points over the last two games, and Jonathan Donville has posted 15 points in that span. Nick Damude was solid between the pipes this past weekend with 48 saves, including 14 stops in the fourth quarter and overtime. Panther City appear to be finding their stride during this critical point in the season. Their tough test in Halifax in Week 16 will give us an even better indication of their playoff chances.

 

#7 – Buffalo Bandits (6-6)

Week 15 Result: 15-14 OT win vs. Saskatchewan Rush
Week 16 Opponent: vs. Toronto Rock (11-2)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The Bandits needed to win their Week 15 matchup to avoid losing four in a row. Through the most beautiful and acrobatic of ways, they found a way to grind out a 15-14 overtime win. The amount of talent on the Bandits is never in question. Adding Connor Farrell to the mix surely seemed to help. The newcomer won 27 of 33 faceoffs and scooped up 17 loose balls in his NLL debut. The win was a necessary one for the Bandits, who could’ve fallen out of a playoff spot with a loss. With a handful of teams nipping at their heels, including some within a game of them in the standings, do the Bandits do anything at the deadline to further bolster their roster? It’s important to note that the Bandits have now allowed 13 or more goals in each of their last eight games. The last time they allowed that many goals for that long of a stretch was back in 2001.

Buffalo Bandits vs Saskatchewan Rush, at KeyBank Center, March 8, 2024. (Photo: Bill Wippert/Buffalo Bandits)

 

#6 – Rochester Knighthawks (5-6)

Week 15 Result: 18-12 win vs. Albany FireWolves
Week 16 Opponent: at Albany FireWolves (10-3)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

The Knighthawks are the NLL’s hottest team, offensively speaking. During their two-game win streak, they’ve scored a total of 37 goals. Connor Fields has emerged as an MVP frontrunner during this short streak, racking up 25 points. But Fields is only one of the many hot hands on the Knighthawks roster right now. Ryan Lanchbury, Ryan Smith and Thomas McConvey have also been playing lights out. Goaltender Riley Hutchcraft has also started to find his stride, making 47 saves in Week 14, and a career-high 51 saves in Week 15. While the Knighthawks’ offense has been carrying the team this season, through Week 15, they are allowing a league-worst 13.73 goals against per game. Do they do something at the deadline to fix that?

 

#5 – Halifax Thunderbirds (7-6)

Week 15 Result: 13-8 loss at San Diego Seals
Week 16 Opponent: vs. Panther City Lacrosse Club (6-6)
Previous Ranking: 4th

The Thunderbirds suffered a tough loss against a talented San Diego team in Week 15. With many of their players having individually great seasons, including the likes of Ryan Benesch, Clarke Petterson, Jake Withers and Graeme Hossack, the team’s results this season haven’t been consistent. Since their four-game win streak, the Thunderbirds are 1-3. They are now in the thick of this contentious playoff race as the March to May heats up. Will this push the Thunderbirds to make any moves before Tuesday’s deadline?

Chris Origlieri and Warren Hill shake hands (Photo: Jake Whiting)

 

#4 – Georgia Swarm (8-6)

Week 15 Result: 13-12 OT win vs. Calgary Roughnecks
Week 16 Opponent: vs. Philadelphia Wings (4-7)
Previous Ranking: 5th

The Georgia Swarm have won two games in a row, and they now head into their final four games of the season knowing that they’ll be at home the rest of the way. Even better for the Swarm, all four of the teams they face are currently non-playoff teams, so they won’t face any daunting challenges from the best teams in the league. All season long, the Swarm have shown that they can win the close games. They are 6-2 this season in games decided by two goals or less, including 2-1 in overtime games. Can the Swarm remain strong during their final stretch of the season and make their first playoff appearance since 2019? Will they try and add any reinforcements to help them in this final stretch? We’ll know in 24 hours

 

#3 – Albany FireWolves (10-3)

Week 15 Results: 13-8 win vs. Vancouver Warriors, 18-12 loss at Rochester Knighthawks
Week 16 Opponent: vs. Rochester Knighthawks (5-6)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The FireWolves are still hot, but they were humbled a little bit in their second game of a back-to-back in Week 15. Doug Jamieson deserves to be in the Goaltender of the Year conversation, and we already know that Alex Simmons and Tye Kurtz are the two frontrunners for the league’s Rookie of the Year. But the team’s success has been the product of a complete team effort for the entire year. From Jamieson in net, to the defense in front of him, to Joe Nardella at the face-off dot and the unselfish offense up front, the FireWolves are for real. Of all the teams in the league right now, I would say the FireWolves are the least likely to make any moves at the deadline.

 

#2 – San Diego Seals (9-4)

Week 15 Result: 13-8 win vs. Halifax Thunderbirds
Week 16 Opponents: at Calgary Roughnecks (5-7)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

The Seals bounced back from their tough Week 14 loss against the Toronto Rock with a notable win versus the Thunderbirds. Thanks to the defense, Chris Origlieri only needed to make 32 saves on the night, and the recent emergence of young, but very capable, Jacob Dunbar is a positive sign for their already potent offense. Dunbar has now had back-to-back multi-goal games. The Seals took this past weekend’s games into their hands for the last three quarters, and it was very impressive. They allowed only four goals over the final 45 minutes of play. A win in Week 16 will give the Seals their 10th win of the season, which would mark the Seals third consecutive 10+ win season, and their fourth 10+ win season in their five years in existence.

 

#1 – Toronto Rock (11–2)

Week 15 Results: 12-7 win vs. Colorado Mammoth
Week 16 Opponents: at Buffalo Bandits (6-6)
Previous Ranking: 1st

The Toronto Rock continue to be the top dogs of the NLL this season. Their Week 15 win against the Mammoth proved that, especially if you watched them during the first and fourt quarters of the game – the Rock shut the Mammoth out in both of those quarters and outscored them 9-0 over those 30 minutes. Yes, the Rock have elite stars at every position, but what’s so impressive about this team is how they’ve managed to stay so dominate despite so many injuries and absences throughout the year. I think it’s fair to say that the Rock are the top contenders to win the 2024 NLL Cup.

HAMILTON, ON – March 9th 2024 – NLL regular season game action between the Colorado Mammoth and the Toronto Rock on Saturday, March 9th, 2024 at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.
(Christian Bender/NLL) 

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