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Week 21 Power Rankings

Week 20 in the NLL was an absolute treat for fans. It was an incredible opening act to the grand finale of next weekend’s final week of this regular season. After this weekend’s games, the playoff picture is clearer, but there is still plenty to be sorted out. One of the key questions that has come up after this weekend’s results is: Did they shake up the power rankings? Let’s find out.

 

#8 – Albany FireWolves (10-7)

Week 20 Results: 11-7 loss at Panther City Lacrosse Club
Week 21 Opponent: at New York Riptide (8-9)
Previous Ranking: 7th

The FireWolves are struggling right now. They have benefitted greatly from their 10-2 start to this season because their five-game losing streak has now put them at risk of not having a home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs. This losing streak is the third-longest in the NLL this year, and it has put a damper on what was looking like one of the most incredible seasons in recent NLL history – maybe ever. It still is a remarkable feat that the FireWolves will be in the playoffs after going 3-15 last season, but this team does not look like the 6-0 or 10-2 team that they looked like earlier this season.

 

#7 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (9-8)

Week 20 Result: 11-7 win vs. Albany FireWolves
Week 21 Opponent: at Calgary Roughnecks (7-10)
Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Panther City picked up a massive win in Week 20 by beating the Albany FireWolves 11-7, but the score line is slightly misleading as the FireWolves netted two garbage-time goals that didn’t have any impact on the game’s result. Goaltender Nick Damude had another spectacular performance over the weekend, and so too did Callum Crawford. In Week 20, the offensive explosion from non-traditional sources (Brandon Goodwin and Josh Medeiros) was a very welcome addition to a team that already has depth up front. When Damude and the offense are clicking, this Panther City team is dangerous. They are a club on the prowl and can potentially lock up a playoff spot in Week 21.

 

#6 – Halifax Thunderbirds (9-8)

Week 20 Result: Bye Week
Week 21 Opponent: vs. Colorado Mammoth (5-12)
Previous Ranking: 5th

The Thunderbirds and the Georgia Swarm were the two teams in the Top 8 that had the week off in Week 20, and it cost them both a spot in the ranking only because the teams directly behind them in last week’s rankings won. As I’ve said in the past, the Thunderbirds are one of the best teams on paper in the league. However, their results in the second half of this season haven’t been remarkable. After starting this season 6-3, they are 3-5 over their last eight games. During that stretch, they only have one win against a team that currently sits in a playoff position. This is a team that is much better than their record suggests, but results matter in these rankings, so the Thunderbirds fall to sixth, which also happens to be where they sit in the unified standings. 

 

#5 – Vancouver Warriors (8-9)

Week 20 Result: 16-10 vs. New York Riptide
Week 21 Opponent: at San Diego Seals (12-5)
Previous Ranking: 6th

The Vancouver Warriors are the hottest team in the NLL right now. They have won five consecutive games and six of their last seven. They’ve beaten the Thunderbirds and Riptide in their last two, and their six-goal victory against the Riptide was their third win by six or more goals this season. Outside of the Toronto Rock and Buffalo Bandits, I would say the one other team you would not want to be facing right now is the Warriors, especially considering that in Week 21 they will be putting everything they have into this final game with a potential playoff appearance on the line. If the Warriors make the playoffs, it will be their first appearance since 2017.

New York Riptide @ Vancouver Warriors (Photo: Jordan Leigh)

#4 – Georgia Swarm (10-7)

Week 20 Result: Bye Week
Week 21 Opponent: vs. Rochester Knighthawks (6-10)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

The Swarm were one of the two teams we didn’t see take the floor in Week 20. They move down only because the Bandits were so good (again) that they leap-frogged them in the rankings. The Swarm have been a little streaky since their 4-1 start to the season, but their latest stretch of games is once again showing what they can accomplish when they’re clicking. They’ve won four of their last five games and they’ve held their opponents to under 10 goals in their last two contests. The Swarm are still contending to have the privilege of hosting a first round playoff game in this year’s playoffs, so I’d expect they swarm the Knighthawks in Week 21.

 

#3 – San Diego Seals (12-5)

Week 20 Result: 13-8 loss at Saskatchewan Rush
Week 21 Opponent: vs. Vancouver Warriors (8-9)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The San Diego Seals took a surprising L in Week 20. It came at the hands of the Rush and the Seals’ former goaltender, Frank Scigliano, who bested their very young netminder Chris Origlieri. Their five-goal loss was their largest defeat of the season and their eight goals scored tied for the second-fewest goal scored in a game this year. The Seals have been dealing with injuries all year long, and they were once again without Curtis Dickson (he’s played one game since March 2nd). The Seals have locked up the #2 seed for their playoff run, and despite those injuries, they’ve assembled a talented and deep enough team to still win 12 games this season (the second-most wins they’ve notched in a season in franchise history). When these Seals are at full strength, they can challenge anyone in the league. I expect we’ll see a team much closer to full strength by their opening round playoff match in two weeks.

The Saskatchewan Rush host the San Diego Seals at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, April 13, 2024 (Photo: Stephen Hiscox)

#2 – Buffalo Bandits (10-7)

Week 20 Result: 14-7 win vs. Calgary Roughnecks
Week 21 Opponent: at Las Vegas Desert Dogs (5-12)
Previous Ranking: 4th

Other than the Toronto Rock, it was the Bandits that looked like the best team in the league this past weekend. After their slower-than-normal start to the season, the Bandits have come to life when it’s mattered most. Their demolition of the Roughnecks was the latest example of that. They led 4-0 after the first, 9-2 after the second, 11-5 after the third, and 14-7 at the end of the contest. This was the Bandits’ largest margin of victory of the season, and their most-lopsided win since January 7th, 2023 against the Georgia Swarm (they won that game by nine). The Bandits have now won three games in a row and five of their last six.

 

#1 – Toronto Rock (14–3)

Week 20 Results: 13-6 win vs. Rochester Knighthawks
Week 21 Opponent: at Saskatchewan Rush (8-9)
Previous Ranking: 1st

The Toronto Rock are on top again (shocker). They have been the #1 team in the rankings since taking the top spot in the Week 13 rankings on February 12th. In their Week 20 matchup against the Rochester Knighthawks, they controlled the game from start to finish. After going up 4-0, they brought their lead to 10-1 by halftime. Nick Rose and the defense were a brick wall and the offense smothered the Knighthawks’ D to a point which the Knighthawks could never really recover. The Rock looked like a championship-worthy team this week, but that’s not very surprising – they’ve been showing us how dominant they are all season long.

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