#1 – Toronto Rock (13-4)
Week 20 Result: 12-7 win vs Philadelphia
Week 21 Opponent: at Buffalo (12-4)
Previous Ranking: 2nd
The Rock are back at #1 after their convincing home win against the increasingly desperate Wings who are trying to find any way into this year’s playoffs. After a close 1st quarter, the Rock took control of the game with a three-goal run to start the 2nd quarter. The Wings were never closer than two goals for the remainder of the match because the Rock managed to outscore their opponents 8-4 over the last 45 minutes. Nick Rose and the defense were dominant (no surprises here) holding the Wings to seven goals – that’s the second-fewest goals the Wings have scored all season. The only other time the Wings scored fewer goals was against the Rock back in January (they only scored five goals that game). The Rock not only have the best record in the NLL after Week 20, but they are now getting back to full strength. It was great to see Chris Corbeil, Mitch de Snoo and Dan Dawson all back on the floor last weekend.
#2 – San Diego Seals (12-4)
Week 20 Result: 15-14 loss at Colorado
Week 21 Opponent: vs Las Vegas (5-11)
Previous Ranking: 1st
Even when the Seals lose they manage to impress us. Yes, a loss is a loss (and that’s why they’re no longer ranked #1), but they were inches away from sending their intense and physical matchup against the Mammoth to overtime. They managed to score 14 goals against the usually sound Dillon Ward and the Mammoth defense. The Seals have won six of their last eight games, but their only two losses were by one goal and one of those was in overtime. This team is still clicking offensively and the goaltending and defensive play has exceeded expectations over the last month or so. Make no mistake, the Seal need to be considered as one of the most balanced teams in the NLL.
#3 – Calgary Roughnecks (11-5)
Week 20 Result: 12-7 win vs Las Vegas
Week 21 Opponent: at Panther City (10-7)
Previous Ranking: 3rd
The Roughnecks had a comfortable win against one of their West Conference rivals, but San Diego did enough (even in their loss) to not fall back two spots. Christian Del Bianco might win Goaltender of the Year and deservedly so. He has allowed seven goals or less in four of his last five games and his goals against average in that span in 7.6. It’s hard to remember all the way back in January when this team was 3-3. Since then, they are 9-2 and show week after week that they should be considered one of the most dangerous teams in this league.
#4 – Colorado Mammoth (9-7)
Week 20 Result: 15-14 win vs San Diego
Week 21 Opponent: at Saskatchewan (6-10)
Previous Ranking: 5th
The Mammoth are the latest team you need to be afraid of this postseason. Last years NLL Cup winners have won their last three games and have now clinched a spot in this years playoffs. Beating the Seals is a massive statement win. This team has all but one of its key pieces back in the lineup (Joey Cupido is injured) and they have shown us that they can win games in all kinds of ways. This team will be jockeying for playoff positioning with PCLC over the final two weeks of this season to see who takes on San Diego or Calgary in the Quarterfinals. Once the playoffs come, though, this team will be poised to repeat as champions.
#5 – Buffalo Bandits (12-4)
Week 20 Result: 11-10 OT win vs New York
Week 21 Opponent: vs Toronto (13-4)
Previous Ranking: 4th
Had the Bandits not pulled off their dramatic OT win on their home floor on Saturday night, they would not have been in the Top-5 this week, but I digress. The Bandits are the most clutch team in the NLL. Each of their last five wins have been decided by one goal and four of those wins were decided in overtime. Tehoka Nanticoke still isn’t back from his injury – he hasn’t played since March 3 – and that seems to have made an impact of this team. Once he comes back, this team will be no doubtably be back in elite form. With their win in Week 20, the Bandits clinched a home playoff game in the quarterfinals.
Next 3 In (in alphabetical order)
Georgia Swarm (8-8)
Week 20 Result: 15-6 win at Albany
Week 21 Opponent: at Rochester (9-7)
Previous Ranking: Next 3 In
The Swarm are in my opinion, 5b and not a ‘Next 3 In’ team. There is no team in the league on a hotter and longer winning streak than the Swarm. They are clicking on all cylinders (as they have been for two months now). Brett Dobson could be your Rookie of the Year and Andrew Kew should be considered a MVP sleeper pick. The Swarm have won six games in a row, which ties their longest winning streak in franchise history. With the team’s win in Week 20, Swarm Head Coach Ed Comeau won his 122nd game – the second most head coaching wins in NLL history.
Halifax Thunderbirds (8-8)
Week 20 Result: 15-11 win vs Saskatchewan
Week 21 Opponent: vs New York (4-12)
Previous Ranking: N/A
The Thunderbirds redeemed themselves after their deflating 17-7 loss to the Swarm. This team has looking to be consistent all season long. They have won three of their last four games, which is their best four game stretch since their first four games of the season. The offense has been particularly good in this four-game stretch. They have scored a minimum of 14 goals goals in three of those games. The Thunderbirds would benefit greatly if they could continue this hot streak next week when they face the Riptide as they are neck and neck with the Swarm for the fourth spot in the East.
Panther City Lacrosse Club (10-7)
Week 20 Result: 9-8 win at Vancouver
Week 21 Opponent: vs Calgary (11-5)
Previous Ranking: Next 3 In
Panther City clinched a spot in this year’s playoffs. It is their first playoff appearance in franchise history in just their second season. The team’s results of late have not been ideal (they’ve gone 3-2 in their last five games) but they’ve been winning more than losing and that’s what matters. This team will now have a significant ‘warm up match’ against the Roughnecks in Week 21 (their final game of the regular season). PCLC might end up facing the Roughnecks in the Quarterfinals, so the result of this upcoming battle might hold some weight come playoff time.