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Week 9 Power Rankings

Week 8 gave us even more proof that anything can happen on any given night in the NLL. The defending champion Buffalo Bandits lost again, the San Diego Seals went into Albany and dominated the previously undefeated FireWolves, the Georgia Swarm almost upset the still-undefeated Toronto Rock, the Vancouver Warriors pulled off a gritty character-building win on the road in Saskatoon against the Rush, and the Mammoth finally looked more like the back-to-back NLL Cup participants that we’re familiar with. The question is: With these results, how does that shake up the power rankings?      


#8 – Rochester Knighthawks (3-2)

Week Result: Bye Week
Week 9 Opponent: at Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3)
Previous Ranking: 8th

The Knighthawks didn’t take the floor in Week 8, which doesn’t give us much to break down. Coming into their Week 9 matchup on the road against the Halifax Thunderbirds, the Knighthawks are averaging the most goals per game (14), but they are also averaging the most goals against per game (14). Against a team that is as capable as the Thunderbirds are, especially at home, it’s possible that this could end up being either a significant, transformative victory, or a crushing and humbling loss.


#7 – Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3)

Week 8 Result: Bye Week
Week 9 Opponent: vs. Rochester Knighthawks (3-2)
Previous Ranking: 7th

The Thunderbirds were also off this past week. Over the team’s last three games, their goal production has decreased every game. A game against the league’s worst defense (determined by goals against per game) in Week 9 could be exactly what the Haligonian doctor ordered. The Thunderbirds are one of only two teams in the NLL that have five players to reach 20+ points this season – the other is the Albany FireWolves, and they’ve played two more games this season. If Warren Hill and the defense can step up in a big way at home against the Knighthawks, the Thunderbirds might be delivering a statement win in front of their home fans.


#6 – Panther City Lacrosse Club (2-3)

Week Result: Bye Week
Week 9 Opponent: at Las Vegas Desert Dogs (2-3)
Previous Ranking: 6th

The Panther City Lacrosse Club have been sitting solid in these rankings for the last couple of weeks mostly due to the fact that they they’ve had resilient comebacks in two of their three loses, and those were against the Rock and the Swarm. Yes, they are 2-3, and yes, it would be very fair and reasonable to have Panther City in a different position, but I’m putting faith in this team to start finishing those comebacks with wins. Here’s some food for thought: Panther City and the Swarm are the only teams to have fourth quarter leads against the Rock this season. PCLC heads into Week 9 with a pivotal matchup against the 2-3 Desert Dogs. With the unified standings, moving to 3-3 in a year where there has been so much parity is a bit of a big deal.


#5 – Buffalo Bandits (3-3)

Week 8 Results: 15-13 loss vs. New York Riptide
Week 9 Opponent: at Toronto Rock (5-0)
Previous Ranking: 3rd

These aren’t the Bandits that many of us are familiar with, and this year has felt different in many ways. The Bandits haven’t started a season worse than 4-2 through their first six games of a season since the 2017-18 campaign. Dhane Smith is scoring at a career-low rate, Matt Vinc has looked uncharacteristically very beatable a few times this year, and the defense as a whole is allowing over one goal more per game than they did last season. Now, outside a seven-minute stretch in the second quarter in which the Bandits gave up seven goals against the Riptide, the team played pretty well on Friday night. Unfortunately, in this league, it takes a full 60 minutes to win ball games, and these Bandits have not been delivering those performances at the same rate as the last few seasons. The Bandits now head to Toronto for a massive early-season clash with their bitter rival. To say the Bandits need to win that game, for their pride more than anything, is an understatement.


#4 – Georgia Swarm (4-3)

Week 8 Result: 12-9 loss at Toronto Rock
Week 9 Opponent: at New York (2-4)
Previous Ranking: 4th

The Swarm are one of five teams that have a winning record, and they’ve beaten the Bandits and Colorado (twice) – the two participants in the last two NLL Cups. Also, two of their three losses were against the 5-0 Rock and the 6-1 FireWolves. The team’s 15-7 loss to the Warriors was a head scratcher. In fact, it was such an anomaly, that the only other teams to beat them by eight or more goals over the last seven years are the Rock and the Bandits. With all that in mind, the Swarm have shown that they are an impressive team this year. Lyle Thompson is scoring at a career-high rate and the Swarm defense is currently allowing nearly an entire goal less per game than they did all of last season. That defense will need to step up in a big way against Jeff Teat and the Riptide in Week 9, because New York’s offense is looking the best it ever has right now.


#3 – Albany FireWolves (6-1)

Week Result: 14-7 loss vs. San Diego Seals
Week 9 Opponent: Bye Week
Previous Ranking: 1st

Our very own Jon Rapoport wrote it best in this week’s game recap: “All good things must come to an end.” Yes, the FireWolves are no longer undefeated, but in no way does that mean that this amazing story has come to an end – not even close. The FireWolves lost and lost big in Week 8, but they lost big to a team that some think could be challenging for the NLL Cup come May. The FireWolves have a Bye in Week 9 to regroup before hosting the Desert Dogs in Week 10. As a whole, the offense still looks good – it definitely was noticeable not having Marshall Powless (short-term hold out list) out on the floor. Doug Jamieson and the defense should still be considered very reliable with their NLL third-best 10.71 goals against per game. This was the first blemish of what is otherwise a great year so far for this team and there is no indication that it will become the norm.


#2 – San Diego Seals (4-2)

Week 8 Result: 14-7 win at Albany FireWolves
Week 9 Opponent: at Philadelphia Wings (2-3)
Previous Ranking: 5th

Of course the Seals move up after they beat the first place, previously undefeated 6-0 FireWolves. But, not only did the Seals beat the FireWolves, they whooped em’ and whooped em’ good. The 14-7 win on the road was one the team’s most complete performances of the season, and I would dare say it was one of their best 60-minute efforts from top to bottom over the last couple of seasons. Chris Origlieri is the real deal in net, and we don’t need to say anything about that offense – it speaks for itself. This was a big statement win for the Seals and should put the rest of the league on notice.


#1 – Toronto Rock (5-0)

Week Result: 12-9 win vs. Georgia Swarm
Week 9 Opponent: vs. Buffalo Bandits (3-3)
Previous Ranking: 2nd

The Rock are #1. They are the last remaining undefeated team in the league. Since their first game this season, they have looked like one of the best teams in the league. I’ve said it before: The fact that the Rock are 5-0 without Tom Schreiber, Chris Corbeil or Latrell Harris says so much about how good this team is at every position. Nick Rose would be the Goaltender of the Year in my opinion if the season ended today. This team is so stacked and so talented. Even when they face adversity, they find ways to look like pretty easy wins by the final buzzer. As it stands right now, the Rock look like the team this is most likely to win this year’s NLL Cup.