The National Lacrosse League playoffs are in full swing as we get ready for the division finals this weekend. Game 1 sets the tone for the series so let’s get into the “X-Factors” for each of these four franchises.
EAST FINAL – Game 1
(#1) Georgia Swarm at (#2) Toronto Rock
This series has the makings of a classic. Not only did the Rock and Swarm split their season meetings 1-1, but they also matched one another in total goals at 24.
Toronto “X-Factor”: Goaltending
Credit: Graig Abel
- 1st in the NLL in goals against average for starting netminders at 10.82
- 5th amongst starters for save percentage with .774
- Has been pulled the past two games
- 17-years in the league
- Played stellar off the bench in relief the last two weeks, backstopping Toronto to consecutive victories.
- A 6.34 GAA and .857 save percentage facing 30-shots in East Semi-Final win over the Black Wolves.
Georgia “X-Factor”: Lyle Thompson
Credit: Paul Sasso
The Swarm’s Lyle Thompson is simply put, a force. A favorite for MVP, here are a few of Thompson’s impressive regular season statistics.
- 1st in the NLL for total points – 116 (45G, 71A)
- 2nd in power play assists – 27
- Tied for 1st in game winning goals – 4
- Held to only three assists in Georgia’s 12-11 loss to the Rock
My NLLTV broadcast partner Brian Shanahan and I dove deeper into the “X-Factors” for Saturday night’s Swarm vs Rock playoff battle.
WEST FINAL – Game 1
(#1) Saskatchewan Rush at (#3) Colorado Mammoth
The two-time defending NLL champs took the season series 3-1 over the Mammoth, but these encounters were certainly not one sided. Each of the Rush’s victories came by only one goal and their single defeat was in Colorado where Game 1 takes place.
COLORADO “X-Factor”: Joey Cupido
Credit: Jack Dempsey
The Mammoth’s transition game has many contributors, however, Joey Cupido is the face of it. In a contest that could come down to the buzzer, winning the transition matchup over Saskatchewan is vital.
- Lightning quick with improved defense
- 1st on the team in short-handed goals (3)
- Top-10 in franchise history for loose balls
SASKATCHEWAN “X-Factor”: Aaron Bold
The Rush are arguably the most complete team in the National Lacrosse League. They are built from the net out and Aaron Bold seems to play best when the bright lights of the playoffs are on him.
This is the fifth time that the Colorado crew has faced Bold in 2017, and it will be interesting to see if they can exploit any tendencies. These are some details on the veteran goaltender.
- Backstopped Saskatchewan to consecutive Champion’s Cup titles
- 2nd in the West for starters with an 11.22 goals against average
- In the three wins versus the Mammoth this season, he allowed an average of only nine goals per game
IL Indoor and NLL.com writer Stephen Stamp joined me to break down these two “X-Factors”.
Andy McNamara has been a play-by-play commentator for the NLL on TSN, NLLTV, and world lacrosse tournaments since 2011. He’s also a sports talk host and anchor on TSN 1050 sports radio. Follow Andy on twitter @AndyMc81