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Week 8 Power Rankings

Week 7, you really brought it all. You had upsets, big performances and the most games we’ve had in one week this season. And you did it all while battling some of the nastiest weather across North America. You really did your best to keep NLL fans on their seats. The question is: How did all of that affect this week’s power rankings?

 

#8 – Rochester Knighthawks (3-2)

Week Result: 15-13 loss vs. Buffalo Bandits
Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week
Previous Ranking: 6th

The scoresheet tells us that the Knighthawks lost to the Buffalo Bandits by two goals, but it was a game that the Knighthawks led for the majority, including being up 8-5 very early in the second quarter. In fact, after last relinquishing their lead in the first quarter, the Bandits didn’t lead again until there were fewer than seven minutes to go in the contest. There was a 25-minute+ stretch in the game where the Bandits only scored two goals, including being shutout in the third quarter. The Knighthawks are the first team to hold the Bandits scoreless for an entire quarter this season. Their losses have not been blowouts, but their fiery offense has made the losses look better than they were. The Knighthawks are averaging a league-best 14 goals per game. Coincidentally, the Knighthawks are also allowing a league-worst 14 goals per game this season, and they have now allowed 32 goals (16 goals per game) over their last two.

 

#7 – Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3)

Week 7 Result: 11-9 loss vs. Toronto Rock
Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week
Previous Ranking: 7th

The Thunderbirds’ record is not indicative of how good this team has been or what they’re capable of. They are 2-3, but two of their losses are against the only two remaining undefeated teams in the NLL (the Toronto Rock and Albany FireWolves). In Week 7, the Thunderbirds did lose to the Rock, but following a resilient three-goal run in the fourth quarter, they were only down by one (10-9) with less than 10 minutes to play. The game before that against the FireWolves, the Thunderbirds were actually winning 10-8 before letting the game slip away. That’s without even mentioning the Week 5 loss to Philadelphia where the Thunderbirds were up 10-6 at the half and then up 15-13 with less than eight minutes to go in the game before losing in overtime. Had just a couple more shots found the back of the net or a few bounces changed direction a little differently, this Thunderbirds team could easily be 4-1 or even 5-0. They have 13 games remaining to not let losses like those get the better of them anymore. Can they right the ship before it’s too late?

 

#6 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (2-3)

Week Result: 14-12 win at New York Riptide
Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week
Previous Ranking: 8th

I took a risk putting Panther City Lacrosse Club at #8 ahead of a few other teams. In Week 7, PCLC showed the box lacrosse community that they can be a dangerous force in the NLL when they get rolling. Yes, the final score against the Riptide was 14-12, but it was 14-9 with three minutes to go in the game. It helped that the Riptide pulled their goalie for much of the end of the game and had an extra attacker out there. Don’t forget that Panther City has been right in the thick of things in all five of the games they’ve played this season. They lost to the Las Vegas Desert Dogs, but in overtime. They lost to the Rock, but were leading that game with less than 10 minutes to go. They lost to the Georgia Swarm, but were tied in that one with less than five minutes to go. Point is: They have been in a good position to win every each and every one of their games this year; they just haven’t done it. I’m not saying that Panther City is one of the top contenders for the NLL Cup, but they’ve played some very good lacrosse this season against some of those top contenders.

 

#5 – San Diego Seals (3-2)

Week 7 Results: 10-8 loss at Las Vegas Desert Dogs & 12-8 win at Colorado Mammoth
Week 8 Opponent: at Albany FireWolves (6-0)
Previous Ranking: 4th

It’s fair to say that the Seals had one of the more interesting weeks in the NLL. Going up against the Desert Dogs in Las Vegas, many analysts, fans and even the sportsbooks were expecting a Seals win, but the Desert Dogs had other ideas. Vegas’s team put together one of their best and most complete efforts in franchise history and upset the Seals by holding their mighty offense to eight goals (four goals through the opening 54 minutes of the game). The next day, the Seals swarmed the Mammoth and jumped out to a comfortable 7-2 lead early in the second quarter. An attempted late surge by the Mammoth wasn’t much of a threat to San Diego, and they won by four. The Seals’ offense sits right in the middle of the pack in 7th for goals for this season (11.6), but you would expect that an offense with Curtis Dickson, Dane Dobbie, Wes Berg, Austin Staats and Kyle Jackson could have that number a little higher. The Seals’ goaltending and defense is actually what’s been above-average this season. So, if they can keep that up, and then start scoring more, as expected, this will be a team that will be near the top of the power rankings and standings in no time.

 

#4 – Georgia Swarm (4-2)

Week 7 Result: 12-8 vs. Albany FireWolves
Week 8 Opponents: at Toronto Rock (4-0)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

The Swarm built their confidence with early-season wins against the banged up Colorado Mammoth and a signature victory against the Buffalo Bandits. Their lopsided loss to the Vancouver Warriors definitely stands out amidst those. The team’s Week 7 loss to FireWolves was also a bit concerning to watch. Brett Dobson, who has been excellent this season in net, was pulled around the halfway mark of the game and the Swarm’s offense only scored three goals over the first 35+ minutes of the game. Adam Wiedemann was credited for blocking a league-record eight shots, but the Swarm couldn’t slow down the FireWolves until it was too late. The Swarm are a very talented team with the offensive juggernaut duo in Shayne Jackson and Lyle Thompson leading the way. Their defense is also often very reliable, and it will benefit them once TJ Comizio comes back from the IR. This team has the pieces to be a real threat as the season rolls on. Dating back to last season, this team is 10-5 over their last 15 games, and, for the most part, they are still playing like a team with that good of a record. The team’s Week 8 matchup against Toronto is going to be one you want to keep your eye on.

 

#3 – Buffalo Bandits (3-2)

Week Result: 15-13 win at Rochester Knighthawks
Week 8 Opponent: vs. New York Riptide (1-4)
Previous Ranking: 5th

The Bandits valiantly beat the Knighthawks in a game where they were not leading for much of the game. Down 8-5 and then 12-10, the Bandits came alive when it mattered most. Five consecutive goals to start the fourth quarter was the knockout punch, and it matched their offensive production of the first and seconds. The Bandits are the Bandits, and I know that upsets some people. Compared to the last three full seasons, the Bandits are off to their slowest start, but what matters is that they have virtually the same lineup as the last full years. They have also still been getting a ton of chances to score – they are averaging a league third-best 76 shots per game. With a game coming up against the Riptide in Week 8, the Bandits will be hoping to move their record to 4-2 overall and 3-1 at home this season.

 

#2 – Toronto Rock (4-0)

Week 7 Result: 11-9 win at Halifax Thunderbirds
Week 8 Opponent: vs. Georgia Swarm (4-2)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

To say the Rock are rolling is an understatement. They are not only still undefeated, but they are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. They have jumped out to big leads many times during this season, and, while there have been times where they’ve let teams get back into games, the result has never really been in question. They have looked like the better team in all four of the games that they’ve played this season, and this has been without Tom Schreiber, Chris Corbeil or Latrell Harris. Nick Rose is playing very well again this year and looks like he’ll be in the Goaltender of the Year conversation. Dan Craig is shining on offense, TD Ierlan is dominating at the face-off dot, Mitch de Snoo and Brad Kri are wildly good on defense, and Challen Rogers is masterfully doing a little bit of everything. This team has so much skill and so much depth, it’s hard to believe we won’t see them vying for the NLL Cup in the spring. 

 

#1 – Albany FireWolves (6-0)

Week Result: 12-8 win at Georgia Swarm
Week 8 Opponent: vs. San Diego Seals (3-2)
Previous Ranking: 1st

The Albany FireWolves are one of the best stories in all of sport right now. They have already doubled their win total from last year and they are doing so by playing team ball. They are averaging a league-best 22.67 assists per game and second-best 13.17 goals per game. Defensively, they are allowing only 10.17 goals per game, which is the third-best in the NLL. Doug Jamieson’s 10.14 goals against average is the second-best in the NLL and his eight goals allowed against the Swarm were the fewest goals he’s let in in a game this season. This Cinderella story is truly hard to wrap your head around. They are a mighty, young, headstrong group of kids that are working as a complete unit to be their best self on the floor. So far, it’s working. If the FireWolves can beat the Seals in Week 8, they will be only the fourth team in the league’s history to start the season 7-0.

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