Friday, May 6, 2011

Game preview: East Division Championship

By Alex Hinkley

The Toronto Rock head into HSBC Arena tomorrow night to take on the Buffalo Bandits in the Eastern Division Championship match. The Rock previously knocked the Rochester Knighthawks out of playoff contention last weekend and will be looking to ride this momentum to the NLL Championship.

This was a matchup that many fans in the East expected to see happen and it could really go either way at this point. Toronto and Buffalo met three times during the regular season. The Bandits ultimately came out on top winning two of those three games and they will hold home field advantage tomorrow night.

Both teams have benefited from solid goaltending all season long. The outcome of this game could very well be decided by the goalies. Mike Thompson of the Bandits finished the season with the second lowest GAA in the league (9.67). But will he be able to hold Colin Doyle, Blaine Manning, Stephan Leblanc, and Garrett Billings at bay?

Bob Watson has been stellar when the Rock seem to need him most and he held the Knighthawks to just 8 goals in last weekend's win. Considering Watson has already announced he is retiring after this season, this could very well be his last game. That fact undoubtedly brings Watson's game to the next level.

Speaking of veterans stepping up in the playoffs, John Tavares had 7 points (3G, 4A) in last weekend's game against Boston. If he can match that level of production again tomorrow, the Rock are definitely in some trouble.

The ball drops tomorrow night at 7:30pm EDT. Watch all the action as it happens on the Toronto Rock's livestream page online or on TSN2 in Canada. It will also be re-aired on VERSUS Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm EDT. The winner will meet either the Calgary Roughnecks or the Washington Stealth in the Championship Game.

(Originally published on Examiner.com)

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