It’s a meeting of first-place teams as the Philadelphia Wings (7-3) host the Saskatchewan Rush (5-2) at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
The Wings are back on a winning streak and sitting at the top of the East Division standings after sweeping a pair of road games last weekend. Philadelphia defeated the Buffalo Bandits, 7-6, at the Key Bank Center on Saturday before outscoring the New England Black Wolves, 14-11, on Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Returning home, and playing in their 11th game of the season, the Wings will attempt to double their win total from last year’s expansion season’s 4-14 record. But that will be no easy task as the West Division-leading Rush have also won two in a row after defeating the Halifax Thunderbirds, 16-15, last weekend.
This will be Saskatchewan’s first ever visit to Philadelphia and the only meeting between the two teams this season. Last year, Saskatchewan defeated Philadelphia, 16-11, at the SaskTel Center in the only meeting between the two teams since the Rush relocated from Edmonton.
But that game feels like ancient history as the Wings have been a vastly improved team since the start of the 2019-20 season.
Philadelphia has been led offensively by Kevin Crowley, who has scored 17 goals and 34 assists, which ranks him second in the National Lacrosse League in total points behind Vancouver’s Mitch Jones (61 points). Matt Rambo is also racking up the stats with 18 goals and 25 assists, including a six-goal performance in his last game.
Philadelphia second-year star Trevor Baptiste leads the NLL in total faceoff wins with 175 and is second in faceoff percentage (.735) and leads the league with 108 loose balls.
Kiel Matisz leads all defense and transition players with 29 points and Brett Hickey leads the Wings in goals (22) and leads the league in game-winning goals with four.
Wings goaltender Zach Higgins, who played the last two seasons with the Buffalo Bandits, has been a welcomed addition to the Philadelphia this season and is having a banner season in the crease. Higgins is leading the league in wins (seven) and save percentage (.828), while tied for first in goals against average (8.76). Last season the Wings were at the bottom of the league in several goaltending categories.
Saskatchewan has played only seven games this season, which is tied for the fewest games in the league, but the Rush still have a few offensive giants in Mark Matthews (nine goals, 24 assists), Robert Church (10 goals, 17 assists), Ben McIntosh (14 goals, eight assists), Ryan Keenan (10 goals, 11 assists) and Jeff Shattler (eight goals, 10 assists).
The Wings will need to protect the ball around Saskatchewan’s Ryan Dilks, who leads the league in caused turnovers with 20. The Rush are also the least penalized team in the league with just 58 penalty minutes in seven games for a league-low average of 8.29 minutes per game. If they can get on the powerplay, the Wings can take advantage of Saskatchewan’s league-worst penalty killing which is at just 39.3 percent.
The Wings have been good at home this season with a 3-1 record but will host a Saskatchewan team that is undefeated (4-0) on the road. In other trends, Philadelphia is perfect (4-0) against teams outside their East Division including a 2-0 mark against the West Division.
The game can be seen live locally on NBC Sports Philadelphia or streamed online at B/R Live.