Sunday, December 30, 2012

9 Teams In 9 Days: Colorado Mammoth

Last year it was John Grant Jr. who lead the Mammoth to a home playoff date, scoring 116 points and capturing the MVP honor. The question now is will he be able to do it again? Will others step up instead? Or will the 2012 season show as a blip on the radar for the Mammoth who had their first winning season since 2008?

There is no doubt that Colorado is an offensively driven team as they lead the league is scoring with 217 goals, which is good because they also allowed the third most.

This has little to do with Chris Levis who put a decent .758 save percentage while facing the most shots of any goaltender.

If Colorado is going to be a powerful team this year, they are going to have to avoid offensive regression. It wouldn't be fair to expect Grant to put up those kind of numbers back to back years. Although he has put up more than 100 points four times now, it would be more realistic to expect 85-95 points, which is still nothing to scoff at. Gavin Prout, Rookie Of The Year, Adam Jones, and Sean Pollock also put up good totals, but I could have gotten a few points myself playing with Grant last year, not to make little of their accomplishments. I see the offense slowing down a tad, but not enough to really make a huge difference in the standings.

The defense sees additions in the form of Richard Morgan who was acquired from the Swarm, and a healthy Mac Allen who only played 3 games last year due to a knee injury sustained playing Summer lacrosse in Peterborough. Allen is one of the games top defenders and will be a leader on the back end.

Some familiar faces that left training camp without roster spots include Jamie Shewchuck and Alex Gajic.

The West will be extremely competitive this season and the Mammoth will compete for the top spot...just like everyone else.

Friday, December 28, 2012

9 Teams In 9 Days: Toronto Rock


By Avry Lewis-McDougall

The 2012 off season for the Toronto Rock has brought along a season of change, the club now thanks to owner ,Jamie Dawick, have a beautiful new training facility in Oakville and has been given what appears to be the keys to what could be another great season for the six time NLL champs.

In the draft, the Rock added a top prospect in the form of 20 year old defenceman Bradley Kri this year. Kri was apart of the Minto Cup winning Orangeville Northmen and  already has some accolades under him. In 2011 he was named the Ontario Junior B League's Eastern division Defender of the year.

Toronto, brought back their long time captain and their all time leading scorer Colin Doyle (898 career points) for another season. Doyle who's been with the club going back to their time in Hamilton as the Ontario Raiders had a 29 goal season last year and at 36 still shows no sign of slowing down as the heart and soul of this club.

Leading scorer, Garrett Billings was also resigned to the squad to a one year deal. Billings had a 114 point campaign and further solidified himself as one of the NLL's premier snipers last season and finished second to Colorado's John Grant Jr in NLL MVP voting. 

In the playoffs Billings also had 12 points before the club fell in the Rochester Knighthawks in the Eastern division final.

The Rock this year did lose one of it's leaders in the form Dan Carey who called it a career during the preseason after trying to comeback after missing the end last season due to concussion problems.

Scott Evans will now be in red, white and blue as he signed a one year deal after spending last year with the Edmonton Rush where he was a key cog in the team's run to the Champion's Cup last year while having a season of 24 goals, 23 assists for 47 points.

Troy Cordingly's bunch in 2012 were solid on the road going 6-2 but struggled to get wins at home in the Air Canada Centre with a record of 3-5, something that will have to change this season.

What will be interesting to see this year is the goaltending going into the season. Nick Rose will be back between the pipes this year as the #1 goalie it will appear after splitting starts in 2012 with Matt Roik (who Toronto brought in to be the main guy and lasted about as long as fine china in front of Ron Artest) and the now retired Pat Campbell. Rose went 6-2 in the regular season last year on route to the post season.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

9 Teams In 9 Days: Minnesota Swarm


By Mike Wilson

Our second stop on the 9 Teams In 9 Days tour takes to Minnesota where the young Swarm are gearing up to take a huge step in the West.

Last year they surprised the league and in some part themselves when they finished 3rd in the West with a 9-7 record.

The Swarm ended up with the third most goals, being lead by Callum Crawford (83 points), Ryan Benesch (72 points), and Kevin Ross (59 points). Kevin Ross has since signed with Philadelphia, but the offense sees more additions than subtractions.  The Swarm drafted Kiel Matisz with the third overall pick and Shayne Jackson with the forth overall pick in this years draft.

Matisz is a towering 6'5'' who will prove to be trouble to defend.  In his Junior "A" year with the Burlington Chiefs, Matisz scored 59 goals and 108 points on route to an MVP year. Playing with the Brooklyn Redmen of the MSL, Matisz put up 76 points over the past two summers in a supporting role.

Shayne Jackson is a little smaller coming in at 5''9', 180 pounds. He leaves Limestone college forth all-time in assists with 94. Jackson also scored 71 points in his senior years, 44 of them being assists.

The Swarm got elevated play in the transition and offensive game from Andrew Suitor, who won transition Player Of The Year, and Jordan Macintosh who was a candidate for Rookie Of The Year.

The Swarm also held the second overall pick in the draft and took Brock Sorensen, a 6''6' 220 pound defender from Ohio State. He has the skills to dominate the floor in his own end, run up the ball, and score. The Swarm allowed the third least goals last year and Sorensen will be a great addition if his ACL can
hold up.

For the Swarm to have been as good as they were, they had to get some help in goal, and they found it in the form of rookies Evan Kirk and Tyler Carlson. Kirk was first in save percentage for goalies who played more than 22 minutes, stopping 80.7% of the shots he faced. In the NLL, anything about .800 is outstanding so the question will be can Kirk sustain that number, or does it come from a small sample size?

The Swarm and a dangerous team and very young to boot. The 2013 roster features 6 rookies, 4 of them being first round picks, and 10 players who made their debut in 2012. They may have overachieved last year, so I would see them coming down to earth if they weren't cushioned by their draft class, which they will be. Consistency will be added and that can be huge.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

9 Teams in 9 Days: Rochester Knighthawks


By Avry Lewis-McDougall

Nine teams in nine days is underway! As we get closer to the NLL season Mike and myself will preview all of the teams in the league, I will handle the Eastern division teams while Mike will do previews for the Western division teams and the Rochester Knighthawks are up first.


The defending NLL champs are back and ready for a run at repeating as league champs.

Last year, the Knighthawks knocked off the Edmonton Rush at home in the Champion's Cup as they were carried by Cody Jamieson who had 36 goals and 49 assists for a 85 point season in a playoff run that shocked many including the entire country of Benin, and George W. Bush.

The big splash for the club this year has been the trade of Paul Rabil, Jordan Hall, Robbie Campbell, Joel White and two 2nd round picks in the 2014 NLL draft to Philadelphia for both of the Dawson brothers, Dan and Paul as well as a first round pick in the 2016 draft.

 Dan Dawson, had a 103 point year for Philly in a year that saw him lead the Wings to the post season but fall short in the Eastern division semi final to Rochester in 2012.

Paul, scooped up 53 loose balls playing in 16 games last year and was a rock defensively for Philly. 

With the addition of the Dawsons, Rochester becomes that much more of a dynamic team and should be easily able to put up 10-12 goals a night come January.

Rochester will also have the 2010 NLL player of the year, Casey Powell, this season. Powell was originally taken by the Knighthawks in last year's dispersal draft of the Boston Blazers. Powell did not play last year in the NLL and spent the 2012 season as a colour commentator for the NLL's games on the CBS Sports Network.

The Knighthawks also have Matt Vinc back in the net who had a so-so regular season but caught lightining in a bottle in net during the playoffs with a record of 3-0 and a save percentage of .807 which was tops among goaltenders during the postseason.

So this equals to ROCHESTER WILL SCARE THE PANTS AND PROBABLY THE DENTURES OFF OF MOST TEAMS IN THE LEAGUE!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Predicting Regression in the 2013 NLL Season

In sport, athletes can break past predictions either performing at astronomical levels or competing below their projected skill level.When given a proper sample size however, one can pick out statistical anomalies as just that, a spike on the chart. As the laws of regression tell us, most things will end up falling or rising closer to the mean in the long run. This is true in lacrosse as shown by pal of the blog Dan Shirley, who is totally serious and prefers to just be called Dan.

The Math: 
He took the data for players with 100+ shots from the years 2012, 2011, and 2010. Next, He ran a regression with a constant of 0 for 2010 and 2011 eS% as the independent variables and 2012 as the dependent. This basically means that it weights the 2010 and 2011 stats to find the best weights to get 2012 results.

The formula would look like this: 2012_eS% = 2011_eS% * w1 + 2010_eS% * w2 + c where year_eS% is the effective shooting percentage for that year and w1/w2 are the weights from the regression and c is the linear constant (0 in our case). So, with simplified numbers plugged in, we get 2012_eS% = 2011_eS% * 0.71 + 2010_eS% * 0.31.


As an aside, the p-values (for alpha = 0.05)  for the weights are 2011: 0.0288 and 2010: 0.3117. So it's technically not a super strong fit, but who cares. I ran a regression for just one year predicting the next (ie 2011 -> 2012 and 2010 -> 2011) and came up with statistically significant coefficients but that's more regression to the mean instead of prediction. The main problem with that is it really hurts players like JT who shoot REALLY well and it treats that as an outlier and penalizes them the following year.


Anyways...I then took players that had 100+ shots in 2011 and 2012 and calculated their 2013 eS%. I could do more, but players with over 100 shots are the ones that are getting the majority of floor time and are the real difference makers on offense.


Here's the results with the columns being: Player name, 2012 eS%, 2011 eS%, Expected 2013 eS%, and change from 2012 (sorted from largest increase (+) to largest decrease (-))



Player
2012
2011
E(x)
Delta 2012
Kevin Buchanan
0.113
0.236
0.154
0.040
Aaron Wilson
0.165
0.271
0.202
0.036
Chad Culp
0.245
0.323
0.274
0.029
Scott Ranger
0.263
0.339
0.292
0.029
Stephan Leblanc
0.246
0.315
0.272
0.026
Shawn Williams
0.209
0.270
0.232
0.023
Cody Jamieson
0.245
0.296
0.266
0.021
Dan Dawson
0.263
0.312
0.284
0.021
Lewis Ratcliff
0.242
0.288
0.261
0.019
Callum Crawford
0.243
0.284
0.261
0.018
Rhys Duch
0.282
0.315
0.298
0.016
Jeff Shattler
0.286
0.316
0.301
0.015
Mike Accursi
0.265
0.292
0.279
0.014
Ryan Benesch
0.334
0.348
0.345
0.011
Ryan Ward
0.276
0.287
0.285
0.009
Curtis Dickson
0.318
0.323
0.326
0.008
Scott Evans
0.238
0.247
0.245
0.008
Corey Small
0.206
0.217
0.214
0.007
Drew Westervelt
0.307
0.307
0.313
0.006
Dane Dobbie
0.254
0.247
0.257
0.003
Luke Wiles
0.321
0.307
0.323
0.002
Athan Iannucci
0.263
0.247
0.263
0.000
Garrett Billings
0.247
0.226
0.246
-0.002
Shawn Evans
0.279
0.254
0.277
-0.002
Colin Doyle
0.284
0.244
0.277
-0.007
Brendan Mundorf
0.236
0.177
0.222
-0.014
John Grant
0.290
0.211
0.271
-0.019
Josh Sanderson
0.290
0.206
0.270
-0.021
John Tavares
0.408
0.292
0.380
-0.028
Mark Steenhuis
0.382
0.204
0.334
-0.048
 

 You’ll see players like Kevin Buchanan, Aaron Wilson, Chad Culp, Scott Ranger, and Stephan Leblanc score 4-6 more goals than last year and on the other end John Grant, Josh Sanderson, John Tavares, and Mark Steenhuis score 3-7 fewer goals (based on if they take 150 shots.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rush Acquire Jeremy Thomson; Wilson, Draft Pick Go To Buffalo

ILIndoor's Steve Bermel reported early this morning that the Edmonton Rush have acquired young transition-man Jeremy Thompson for forward Aaron Wilson and a second round pick. Thompson finally makes his way into the Rush organization after almost being traded for Paul Rabil last season.

Thompson was a first round pick in the 2011 draft who played 14 games with the Bandits in his rookie season, scoring 9 points and picking up 72 loose balls. He also won 46.4% of his faceoffs last year, which surpassed Jarrett Toll's 37.4% that lead the Rush last year. This was a problem in Edmonton last year, although the size of the impact may be smaller than originally thought

Wilson had a career low in points last year only scoring only 13 goals and 18 assists for 31 points. That was his first year since 2004 that he has had less than 50 points. This coming on an offense that scored a league low 167 goals last season. The ball didn't make it to Wilson on the crease as much as it usually did, and even when he was given the chance to shoot, he only converted 10% of them. This trade may be what Wilson needs to get back to where he was just a few seasons ago when he put up career numbers.

It was also brought up that Wilson may have been brought in to replace Luke Wiles who is currently in contract talks with the Bandits, while Thomson should step into Derek Suddons' spot after he signed in Buffalo earlier this offseason.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rush Ads Get Sexier

Here at the NLL Blog we like to think we have just as many female readers as male readers even though it might not be true. For those who are part of that category, this post is more for you. Upon visiting the website of The Edmonton Rush I saw that they are Offering a "Hot Ticket Event." "Hot", in this situation, has two meanings. Take a look:


This ad shows the level of fitness these players need to have to play this game, but at the same time using sex appeal to sell tickets. I mean just look at those guys! If that can't get more ladies at the games then I don't know what will. Maybe make them sign the autographs at the end of the game without shirts. Just pitching some ideas.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NBC Presents: Player Movement in the NLL

How long until I'm in touch with their legal department? 
This post has been graciously sponsored by the wonderful people at NBC! Upon their advisement, this article is being posted this Wednesday morning instead on Saturday night when it was originally written.  Prime time baby!

By Mike Wilson

At the beginning of the 2012 NLL season, the Rush were without one of the best lacrosse players in the world in Brodie Merrill, and had little to show for it. They had the rights to Athan Iannucci and Paul Rabil at different times in the season, but both refused to step on the floor in a Rush uniform.

After a long wait, Edmonton finally traded Rabil to Rochester for forward Jarrett Davis. Some were shocked that the Knighthawks were able to pull off this deal one for one, but at this point, Edmonton had little to no leverage.

Davis had 7 goals and 21 assists last season for 28 points, putting him 7th in team scoring for his old club. That point total would have put him 7th on the Rush, just above Tom Johnson. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Throwback time: The 1989 MILL title game

By Avry Lewis-McDougall

It may be the offseason but it dosent mean we cant provide some gems for NLL fans from the league vault! Check out one of the wildest games in league history going back to it's days as the MILL. The 1989 title game between the NY Saints and the Philadelphia Wings.

Take a look below...


   Some points on this one,

-Even in the infancy of the league the Spectrum was still rocking! No matter what sport Philadelphia has been known to embrace it 154%. In the 1989 MILL season the Wings had over 14,000 fans per game and 74,876 fans in total at their home games that season.

-Have to love the REALLY lime green turf which is a joy to watch but should be assault on my eyeballs.

-Look at the stomping at 2:54,  Lou Delligatti of the Wings tries to turn John Driscoll's head into mashed potatoes and naturally he gets a chop lets not show this footage imagine if that happened in the modern era of sports? There would be "WANTED" posters all across the US for Delligatti.

-This could have been one of the greatest meltdowns at the Wings try to kill the clock and almost blow it in the final 38 seconds (starts at 5:24 mark of the video) as Wings goalie Kevin Bilger and company try to kill the clock on their own end of the floor until they realize that the Saints will not just sit back and play patty cake until the final buzzer.
Two awful passes almost result in the Wings turning over the ball in their own end. They finally break out and you have to love with 10 seconds left John Tucker almost becomes the goat with one of the most unnecessary passes which gets picked off and results in an 2 on 0 for New York and near disaster for Philly.

-If the shorts were any shorter every player and ref would have been arrested for indecent exposure.

-The league championship trophy was called the North American Cup now that is worth some serious laughs considering at the time the league had not a single team in Canada ( The Ontario Raiders would join the league in 1998) and barley any Canadian players.

That's all for now I'll bring you more classic NLL content as the summer goes on. I'm Avry and I'm out follow me on twitter @Avry .

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cody Jamieson and His Establishment in the NLL

By Josh Bourhis

From an NLL standpoint, Cody Jamieson is at the top of the world. He scored 85 points this year, 32 more than last year, and averaged 5.7 points per game. He also just led his team, the Rochester Knighthawks to their first NLL title since 2007, winning the game MVP trophy in the process. What makes it an even more incredible feat? He's only 24 and this is only his second year in the NLL.

Cody began his lacrosse career in Six Nations, Ontario which couldn't be a better place to play lacrosse. The only thing with playing there is there is such a large talent pool, you have to be exceptional to get noticed, and that he did. He won four consecutive league championships playing Junior A and one Minto cup where he took home the MVP trophy too. 340 goals and 646 points was what he finished Junior A with. 

He didn't stop there.

Jamieson first attended Onondaga Community College and tallied 121 points in 18 games in his rookie season and helped the team capture 2 National Championships. After transferring to Syracuse he was unable to play until the latter half of the 2009 season. In only a short amount of games he still managed to have an impact. He scored the game winning goal in overtime to win them the championship! That would be what one would call "clutch". He now plays for the Hamilton Nationals of the MLL during the summer months. Last year he tallied 26 points in 12 games. One would say he is really good at field lacrosse. Example: This video of him scoring against Johns Hopkins while he was in Syracuse:



What boggles me is the hate he has received from fans on forums. He has been targeted ever since he received the honour of wearing the number "22" on Syracuse. For those that don't know "22" was worn by the likes of Gary Gait and the Powell brothers. The dude is incredible, why the hate?

Cody is full of firsts now that he's in the NLL. He was the first overall pick in the 2010 NLL entry draft. He was first on his team in points this year. He made the all star game his first 2 years in the league. His team finished first in the league this year, and he signed the longest contract in NLL history, a whopping 10 years, making it the "first" one of its kind. 

He also has his own Bobblehead!
Cody Jamieson is quickly carving himself a niche in the NLL, one that features ankle breaking cuts to the inside, and a solid outside shot. If you aren't on the Cody Jamieson bandwagon, you better get your ticket quick before you miss out on all of the action.

You can also follow him on twitter here: @CJamieson88

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The 2012 Championship Game Is Here!

By Josh Bourhis

It All Comes Down To This
The time is upon us for the oh-so-short lacrosse season to wrap up. It was only a couple months ago that we had started the blog back up and were posting the season predictions. Before we get to the game this weekend let's take a look at Lead Writer Mike Wilson's season predicitions. His predicitons will be in Italics:

MVP: John Grant Jr. (Stephan Leblanc)

Goaltender Of The Year: Mike Poulin (Tyler Richards)

Defensive Player Of The Year: Kyle Rubisch (Kyle Rubisch)

Transition Player Of The Year: Andrew Suitor (Brodie Merrill)


East Division:
  1. Toronto Rock (Toronto Rock)
  2. Rochester Knighthawks (Buffalo Bandits)
  3. Philadelphia Wings (Philadelphia Wings)
  4. Buffalo Bandits (Rochester Knighthawks) 
    West Division:
    1. Calgary Roughnecks (Calgary Roughnecks)
    2. Colorado Mammoth (Edmonton Rush)
    3. Minnesota Swarm (Washington Stealth)
    4. Edmonton Rush (Colorado Mammoth)
    5. Washington Stealth (Minnesota Swarm)
    Final: Toronto Rock vs. Calgary Roughnecks
    Winnner: Toronto Rock

    Well 4 out of 16 predictions ain't...good. Oh well. That's the thing with the NLL, it's unpredictable and that is what makes it exciting. 

    And what an unpredictable final we have. Rochester vs. Edmonton. 

    Read the Preview for the final after the jump:

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Above .500 Dosent Always Mean Post-Season Success

    By Avry Lewis-McDougall

    This weekend, the Edmonton Rush and the Rochester Knighthawks will play each other in the Champions Cup for all of the marbles, corn chips, and pogs in the NLL. Both teams have been able to get on a roll this post season with Edmonton getting wins over Calgary and Minny, while Rochester's route had them beating the Philadelphia Wings and the Toronto Rock to get to the finals.

    One thing though that bugs many people about this match-up though are the regular season records of both teams. Edmonton finished the season at 6-10 and the Knighthawks at 7-9.

    Many people feel that the best teams are not playing in the final because they have the better records and those that feel that way clearly do not know sports very well. Being the BEST team in the playoffs goes beyond the numbers, many teams over look their opposition who may have a worse record than them and wind up stumbling early in the playoffs. In the 2012 post season the Calgary Roughnecks who have basically dominated the Rush for the majority of Edmonton's existence since 2006 in the regular season are now 0-2 to Edmonton in post season play, and Calgary's record was 12-4, tops in all of the NLL in 2012.

    Being the best in the post season truly means to me at least if you can catch lightning in a bottle you will do fine, the Rush and the Knighthawks are doing it and many teams in sports before have done it. The 2006 Edmonton Oilers, the 2010 Seattle Sehawks, the 1994 Denver Nuggets, the 2012 LA Kings, and countless other teams showed it is possible to make for far as an underdog. Do not just blindly look at the regular season records and assume that they are going to the title or are THE best in the playoffs.

    I'm going to enjoy the Champions Cup final with my feet up watching the Rush and Knighthawks battle for NLL supremacy the regular season records to me are now thrown out of the window.
    That's all for now I'm Avry and I'm out follow me on twitter, @Avry.

    Sunday, May 6, 2012

    Rush Rout Roughnecks In Playoffs for the Second Time

    Photo: Mike Drew, Calgary Sun
    There is always that Cinderella story in the playoffs. Whether it is a whole team or a single player, every sport has one, and on this weekend, it's the Edmonton Rush and Aaron Bold as they eliminated the Calgary Roughnecks in a 19-11 blow out. This came as a surprise considering Calgary was the top team in the league heading into the playoffs and had beaten the Rush eight consecutive times. The last time the Rush beat Calgary was the last time they met in the playoffs in 2010.

    The story tonight was a complete team effort as the Rush finally looked like they have all facets of their game working together. 

    The thing they were missing for most of the year came out to play tonight: Their offense. Ryan Ward scored 11 points and Corey Small chipped in with 8 to lead the charge for the Rush. They had outstanding off ball movement tonight which allowed for 59 shots to come from everywhere on the floor.

    On the other side, Calgary's scoring was led by Dane Dobbie, who notched 7 points.

    The game was dominated by Edmonton as they finally had Calgary's offense figured out, playing solid man to man tonight. Oh and that Aaron Bold guy? Yeah he did good too. 

    The game was hard fought and clean until the end of the fourth quarter when a couple of late goals caused Calgary to let their emotions get the best of them. This included Jeff Cornwall being chased by Dobbie and receiving a number of unwarranted punches by Dobbie, along with Zack Greer scoring a cheeky late goal to make it 19-11 and starting a scuffle by the boards.

    At the end of the day it was a one sided affair, one that the Roughnecks will not forget about for a long time to come.

    The Rush move on to play the Minnesota Swarm in Minnesota next Saturday

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    'Tis the Season, Playoff Time Is Here!

    CAUTION: RUSH HOMERISM AHEAD

    It has been 715 days (But who's counting) since the Rush were last in the playoffs. Since then, they have missed the playoffs, traded away 2 of the games best players, and once again, overhauled the team. Their first ever playoff game, played against the Calgary Roughnecks in 2010, was won on the backs of Ryan Ward who is still with the team, and Matt Disher, who has since retired.

    They moved on to the Western final that year which was played in Washington against the Stealth. The Rush found themselves down for most of the game, but managed to tie it up late and force overtime. There, right off the faceoff, Paul Rabil, who is now Rush property, went in on on Disher and scored. It was over just like that.

    My heart was broken, but after many days, (715) another chance has come as the Rush will face their rivaled Roughnecks in the first round of the playoffs. Everything in the regular season that happened; throw it out. It all means nothing. But just to keep you up to date, lets take a look at those useless stats.

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Brandon Francis Suspended A Semi-Appropriate Amount Of Games

    Bandits forward Brandon Francis has been suspended for 3 games after an incident that occurred on Saturday night in a game against the Edmonton Rush. He received 2 games for cross checking Edmonton's Jimmy Quinlan in the face, and another for having 3 misconducts on the year. The play takes place in the corner of the video a few seconds in.


    Quinlan was talking to John Tavares, and Francis decided that the best way to intervene was to deliver a nice check to the head.  Chris Corbeil wins team player of the game for going up against Francis, a guy much larger than him. It's not about winning the fight, but about standing up for your teammate. 

    Gold Star, but not for the mustache.
    Although it took a while to get a decision from the league, the right suspension length was delivered. I would have liked to see 3 on the hit along with the automatic game because of the multiple misconducts, but I can't be too picky. Good on ya NLL! It was a vicious, cowardly, and unnecessary hit that the game has no room for.

    Francis will miss the rest of the regular season, as well a a playoff game if the Bandits make the playoffs. If the don't, then it will carry over to the next season. He was also fined a undisclosed amount of money.

    Although this may be a bummer for Francis, I have trouble believing the Bandits are going to miss him that much. His job is becoming obsolete and one has to wonder is he has a place in the league at all. (Probably not.) (I mean he only has 3 goals all season.) (Really.)

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

    Rush Take Down Bandits, Playoffs Look Near

    By Avry Lewis-McDougall

    The Rush and Bandits played each other like they were division rivals but in reality it was only the 3rd match up ever between the two clubs as they hooked up on Saturday night at the place known as Rexall as the Rush got a convincing 11-8 victory.

    The game started off with the Bandits getting the early jump on Edmonton thanks to a Luke Wiles goal but Steve Toll just a few minutes later got his first on a breakaway beating Mikey Thompson to tie the game up uno to uno.

    The rest of the first was a tug of war as Luke Wiles added another and Jimmy Purves beat Aaron Bold while, Shawn Williams and Derek Suddons scored for the Rush as the 1st Q ended 3-3. The Rush were able to change to momentum as Mikey Thompson was knocked out of the game after being run into in the crease and Anthony Cosmo came into the game.

    The 2nd Q saw Zack Greer get in on the action as he gave Edmonton back the lead and Tom Johnson stepped up with a goal to make things a 5-3 game, but the master himself, John Tavares would not let the Rush pull away too far as he got his first of the night. Zack Greer got his 2nd of the game courtesy of the power play (a ton of these broke out for both teams) but guess what? The guys in black and orange would get two more goals to respond, one from Mark Steinhuis and another from Tavares as the teams went to the dressing rooms tied up at 6.

    The rest of the review after the jump! 

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    NLL Attendance Part 3: San Jose Washington

    By Josh Bourhis

    Today's edition of NLL Attendances is a little bit different, as it features only a single team, divided into two cities. It's the Washington Stealth, formerly known as the San Jose Stealth. The reason why I combined them is the Washington Stealth have not been around long enough to show considerable data, and the attendances are almost exact in the two cities.

     **Note: The 2012 attendances for all of the 5 articles will be shown with attendance figures as of the March 24,25,26 weekend so the league average will not fluctuate week to week.

    View the Graph after the jump:

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    NLL Atendance Numbers Part 2: Minnesota Philadelphia

    By Josh Bourhis

    Welcome back to another installment of NLL Attendances, a 5 part mini series discussing why certain teams generate certain attendances. In Part 2 our two teams are Philadelphia and Minnesota. These teams have some very interesting graphs. Minnesota is all over the place whereas Philly has had a constant decline since 2005.

    In this blog we had to ask some of the lacrosse community why these attendances dropped and we found that it wasn't just poor play, but some other interesting factors.

    **Note:The 2012 attendances for all of the 5 articles will be shown with attendance figures as of the March 24,25,26 weekend so the league average will not fluctuate week to week.

    View the graph and get the low-down after the jump:

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Does Winning Face Offs Mean Winning Games?

    NLL face offs: "Yeah, it's kinda like this."
    The key to winning a game is scoring goals when you have possession of the ball and stopping your opponents from scoring when they are in control. That's pretty much common sense to every sports fan and athlete out there so let's go a little deeper. Not only do you want to score when you have possession, but you want to maximize how many possessions your team has.

    How do you increase your possessions in lacrosse? One of the ways is through winning face offs. If you win the face off then you have control of the ball but a loss in the circle could lead to a goal against. 

    Mike came to me the other day wanting to know just how much effect face off percentage had on a team's winning percentage or goal scoring totals. If you know me well (or even just a very little), you know that I can't say no to someone when they give me an opportunity to combine my love of mathematics and sports. I compiled the team stats that NLL.com had for every team in the last three years and calculated the correlation between different stats.

    Before I get into the results, let me explain to you what correlation is. Correlation shows the relation between a two variables (a dependent and an independent). Correlation is represented by the correlation coefficient (r) and can show us how much effect face offs have on anything. r is measured on a scale from -1 (negative relation) to +1 (positive relation). If data has an r value of -1, this means that as the independent variable increases then the dependent decreases and vice versa. An example of this would be as someone exercises more, their body fat decreases. An r value of +1 means that both variables increase or decrease at the same time. For example, as someone eats more food their weight goes up and as they diet their weight goes down. If r is around 0, there is no relation between the two variables.

    Back to lacrosse. Here are the correlations between FO% / FO% ratio (FO% divided by opponent's FO%) and multiple stats.

    For a correlation to be considered "strong", the absolute value of r should be at 0.6 or higher. As you can see, all of the r values for both FO% and FO% ratio are down under 0.2 (except for shots ratio which measures how much a team is out shooting their opposition). This leads me to the conclusion that winning face offs aren't nearly as important as I once thought.

    So, why aren't they so important if they give a team extra possessions? An easy answer would be to cite turnovers. In the last three years, there have been approximately the same number of turnovers per team per game as there have been face offs per game. This means that the ball changes hands faster than teams can score goals. In addition to turnovers, how often do we see teams win the face off and then sit back until they get the right personnel onto the floor? Quite a bit. If teams were to pressure more off of the face off, I think that winning the FO might lead to more goals.

    I'm not saying that winning face offs aren't important. They just aren't as important as I originally assumed. If I had access to overtime only stats, I would be willing to bet money on the team that wins the face off scores the goal the most often. In other words, face off wins have more leverage in overtime than they do in the first 60 minutes.

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    Rush Get Massive Win In Overtime

    By Avry Lewis-McDougall

    OT always brings magic and in this case it worked out just fine for the home team playing in the capital of Alberta. The Edmonton Rush got their 2nd win in a row with their 9-8 win over the Minnesota Swarm at Rexall thanks to an Aaron Wilson goal just 38 seconds into overtime. The Rush offense was lead early on by Zack Greer, Ryan Ward and Shawn Williams as they were able to give the Rush a 4-2 lead after the first frame. 16 shots on net showed the team has been improving in that aspect as shots on net has been an Achilles heel for the team all season long.

    The 2nd saw more offensive firepower from the Rush as Zack Greer, Aaron Wilson and Corey Small were able to put up tallies but Minny hung around in the ball game thanks to goals from Kevin Ross, Jay Card and Josh Gillam.The Rush offence started strong in the first half with 8 goals before halftime and a strong performance in net from Aaron Bold who stood on his head as the Rush had an 8-4 lead going into the half.

    The 3rd saw the switch flip as the Rush were unable to get anything going as the Swarm got two goals in the quarter another one from Jay Card and Tyler Hass to make it an 8-6 game going into the quarter that is commonly known as the 4th.

    A complete shutdown of the offense occurred for Edmonton as they put up another goose egg on the board but guess what? Minnesota didn't as they tied the game up at 8 thanks to goals from Callum Crawford and Kevin Ross to send the game to overtime.

    Overtime lasted about as long as it takes for me to wash my hands thanks to the Aaron Wilson goal which was set up by a great pass from Jeff Cornwall to beat Evan Kirk.

    The Rush improve to 4-7 on the season and sit 4th in the West Division thanks to the Calgary Roughnecks beating Washington 13-11 on Saturday. Edmonton travels to Toronto next week to play the Rock on April 7th and Minnesota plays Philly on April 6th.

    Three Stars of the game:
    #1: Zack Greer (EDM) 3 goals. Clearly the first star as his play helped spark the Rush early in the contest.
    #2: Kevin Ross (MIN), 3 goals 1 assist. He kept the Swarm in the ball game when it looked like the Rush were going to pull away and turn the game into a blowout.
    #3 Ryan Ward (EDM) 3 goals, 1 assist. Ward was another key cog in the Rush O.


    That's all for now and I'm out! Follow me on twitter, at @Avry.




    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    NLL Attendance Numbers Part 1: Buffalo Colorado

    By Josh Bourhis

    After doing spreadsheet after spreadsheet, going through every attendance for every team since 2005 I have decided I want to discuss possible reasons for why certain teams generate certain attendances. For the next 5 weeks I will be bringing you short quick hits including graphs and exact numbers of Team Attendances of every current team for every year they have been active since 2005.

    **Note:The 2012 attendances for all of the 5 articles will be shown with attendance figures as of the March 24,25,26 weekend so the league average will not fluctuate week to week.

    Today we start with the first two teams: Buffalo and Colorado. These teams are not the ones of concern which is why I will start with them. From 2003-2008 Colorado had a winning record almost every one of those years and won the champions cup in 2006. This is the reason fans have consistently been coming to the games. What is really amazing is the Mammoth since the 2007 season have been getting more fans then the Avalanche, their NHL team. Buffalo, from 2003- 2011 have been consistently competitive, with a championship in 2008 and second place twice.

    See the graph for Buffalo and Colorado after the jump

    Monday, March 19, 2012

    NLL TRADE DEADLINE HYPE-O-MATIC 3000

    The NLL trade deadline is tomorrow and we here at the NLL Blog are giving it as much hype as the fine fellows at TSN do for the NHL trade deadline! Well maybe close.

    So Far:
    On Monday, the eve of the deadline, a surprising move was made by the Free-falling Rock who traded away a 2014 first round pick for Calgary back-up goaltender, and Orangeville native Nick Rose. The Rock then released Matt Roik who was the first goalie not named Bob Watson to be the definitive starter for Toronto.

    Roik gave up 7 goals on 11 shots against the Bandits on route to their 3rd strait loss and Rock GM Terry Sanderson felt they needed to make a move to shake things up. Roik ended up the scapegoat. Has he been great for Toronto? Not at all. He currently has the ninth best Save percentage among goaltenders that have played at least 100 minutes. He also hasn't been the reason for every loss so far as different areas of the team have been inconsistent at other points so far this season. I personally think it is a lateral move if anything, knowing that Rose is still unproven, and the rest of the team are still working with injuries and inconsistency.

    The other moves that were made Monday were the signings of Chris Schiller to the Philadelphia Wings and Ben Prepchuck to the Edmonton Rush practice roster.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Roughnecks Take Round One of Home and Home Against Rush

    By Josh Bourhis

    The Big "E" on the Rush Twitter jerseys stood for Evans Friday, but it came up short as the Rush fell to the Roughnecks 13-10.

    J.Kushneryk Images

    It took until the fourth quarter for the Rush to get things going, and it was too much of "too little, too late". Scott Evans had an incredible 6 goal 7 point night, but in the end it was Curtis "Rush Killer" Dickson who stole the show with a 7 point night of his own. He has totalled a hat trick in every one of his last 6 games against the Rush which led to his new nickname "Rush Killer".

    The Rush kept it close in the first quarter but fell down 8-4 to start the last frame. 10 seconds into the fourth Kyle Rubisch potted a great goal on Poulin after a rare faceoff win for the Rush. Then it was off to the races for Scott Evans who scored two more after and assisted on a great goal by Aaron Wilson. Suddenly it was all tied at 8 with the momentum on the Rush's side. It stayed that way for four minutes until Calgary shot back with three unanswered to take the lead again. Cue Scott Evans as he pots his fifth and then his sixth to cap off the impressive Sock Trick. The game was in reach for the Rush until Curtis Dickson came up with a clutch goal to curb the comeback.

    Zack Greer and Greg Harnett got into a tilt in the third and Greer who is not known to be a fighter stood in until the very end when Harnett landed a couple of big rights to end the fight. This bad blood will carry over into Saturdays game, when they face off again. This is a job well done by the league scheduling home and home Calgary Edmonton games as it allows for the heated rivalry to flourish. What adds to the storyline in these Battle of Alberta's are the battles of the brothers Shawn and Scott Evans and Travis and Jeff Cornwall. In the big scheme of things however the Rush have seemed like the little brother in Battle of Alberta losing 18 of the 22 games since their inception versus Calgary. This is also Calgary's 8th straight win over the Rush.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Edmonton Rush to Wear Twitter Handles on Back of Jerseys

    Classy
    By Josh Bourhis

    A few days ago the Edmonton Rush announced that they are going to follow in the footsteps of the Philadelphia Wings and have their players wear jerseys with their twitter handles on the back. They will be the first Canadian team to do so, which is a step in the right direction. The NLL is a league that needs to use social media to build the game; however, it's too soon after the Wings did it.


    According to a picture on the Rush website the jerseys will be their regular white home jerseys with their "@username" on the back, just like the picture above. What is surprising is they didn't decide to go with a unique design. This was a chance for the Rush to get creative, and instead they just decided to only change the namebars. We can only hope that the picture below is just an example and they actually do have a special jersey design. There is also no word on if they will auction off the jerseys. The auctioning off of special jerseys is a great way to give fans a chance to get a unique item, and to put the money toward a good cause.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Bye Bye Bye (Our New Playoff Format)

    By Josh Bourhis

    After a long discussion with all the writers here at the NLLBlog, we have decided to reach out to our fans with articles from a different take. We promise to bring you more exciting articles, and talk about things that are effecting the league in positive and negative ways. We want to bring you our opinion on different topics, and it starts with this article.

    The Holy Grail of the NLL
    Playoffs: A series of contests to determine the winner of a championship, played between the LEADING teams in different divisions.

    The Problem:
    Notice how "Leading" is bolded? The reason why it's bolded is because of the current playoff format in the NLL. For those who aren't aware the top 4 teams in each division make it, and it's played 1 vs.4, 2 vs. 3, winner moves on. The only problem is the West division has 5 teams and the East has 4. Does it make sense for 8 of the 9 make the playoffs? No. To have every team but one to make the playoffs lowers the competion level come the last couple of games because by then, the team that isn't making it is pretty much decided.  The format needs to be changed. I understand because it is a small league, that they want lots of teams to make the playoffs to keep fan interest in all cities, but lets be honest, it just makes the regular season less exciting.

    Saturday, March 3, 2012

    GDB: The Injury Bowl (Rock v. Stealth)

    Before you get on me, this isn't a Rush preview, it is a Stealth/Rock preview. This isn't the Rush Blog as much as I has seemed to make it so. It's the NLL Blog so I'm going to do another game this week. GET OFF MY BACK! The Rush also don't play this week soooo...

    Oh boy am I excited to see Colin Doyle in action this week! Oh? he's not playing? Well at least I get to see Blaine Manning! Hometown kid! He's out too? Huh. Well maybe this is a good time for Rhys "Clutch" Duch and the boys to get their second win! What? You're kidding. Tyler Richards? Damn. Why am I previewing this game? Oh right because it's going to be on TV*. Right. OK let's go!

    On Saturday night the Washington Stealth will travel out east to face the Toronto Rock in a Champions Cup rematch. The Rock currently lead the Eastern Division with a 4-3 record, while the Stealth sit at the bottom of the West and the league with a 1-6 record.

    Even with their highly skilled offensive personnel, Washington still scores the least amount of goals per game at 9.29. On the other side of the floor things don't get much better as they also give up a league worst 13 goals per game. Tyler Richards, now injured as mentioned above, wasn't the problem, sporting a respectable .775 Save Percentage. Matt King and Chris Seidel are both well below .7 in relief. Seidel has been moved to the practice roster and former Rush/Swarm goaltender Kevin Croswell has been brought in. Defense has never been a strength of the Stealth, usually the offence is there to bail it out, but not this year.

    Athan Iannucci was brought in to help out the offence, and so far has been able to put up 2 goals and 4 assists in 2 games. Not flying high.

    Kyle Sorensen is will back in the lineup so there's some good news.


    The Washington Stealth: Making the Edmonton Rush  look good since 2012
    Interesting stat from Graeme Perrow from NLL Chatter:
    "The Rock with Colin Doyle for a full game are 0-3. The Rock with Doyle for less then half the game (or not at all) are 4-0." 
    The Rock got out to a slow start this season but seem to be getting their legs back underneath them. Because I picked him as my MVP, Stephan Leblanc isn't playing up to expectations, but is still chipping in with 7 goals and 24 points so far.

    Stepping up huge for Toronto in Doyle and Manning's absence has been Garrett Billings who leads the team with 42 points, which is good for 4th in the league.

    Both teams have had a tough time with injuries so far, so the playing field is leveled.

    Prediction: The combination of the Rock being good, the Stealth not being good, and the fact that Washington has to travel across the continent to play, doesn't play well for the bombers.

    Toronto wins 15-9

    *On TSN2 in Canada, ESPN3 in The USA, and and will be shown on tape delay on ROOT Sports Northwest at 9:30pm PT on Saturday and at 12:30am Sunday.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Black History Month and Lacrosse


    By Avry Lewis-McDougall

    This month is one for reflection of the many great things that people of colour have done in the world such as Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and Tiger Woods. Lacrosse (NLL, MLL and NCAA) does have links with black players. Without further ado here is the black history of lacrosse:
    Jim Brown
    Jim Brown the legendary running back of the Cleveland Browns is considered one of the greatest lacrosse players in NCAA history having 4 outstanding seasons at Syracuse all the while playing college football for the Orangemen.He grew up in an all-black community near Georgia. He was lucky enough to not have to deal with a lot of racism when he was raised by his grandmother. Brown moved to New York at the age of eight and became an all-around athlete. Brown said that if there was a professional league at the time he would have turned pro (The original NLL was not created until 1974).

    The 1975 Team Picture for the Morgan State Black Bears
    The Morgan State Black Bears from Baltimore, Maryland were one of the few all black Lacrosse teams in the NCAA and had tremendous success.The Bears placed in the top 25 four of five years between 1970-75 and made the championship tournament two times. These teams were led by Howard Silverman,who then retired after the 1975 season. Sadly this led to the Bears never having a winning season again. The Bears biggest accomplishment came when they upset the number one team in division II lacrosse in the form of Washington and Lee University, a team that had not lost a home game IN THREE YEARS! This is considered one of the largest upsets in intercollegiate history. is ranked in the top 25 of NCAA scoring, and became a powerhouse until the team was disbanded in 1981. Morgan State, is thankfully reviving its Lacrosse program and is reviving a history that is so rich the "10 Bears" will made into a movie soon.


    Johnny Christmas playing for the Philadelphia Wings
    The NLL has had black players also. The Boston Blazers had Brian J White suit up for them in 1996 and play in 2 games recording 4 loose balls and an assist. White has gone on to have a successful acting career and always speaks highly of his time playing pro Lax. More recently Johnny Christmas played for the Philly Wings for 5 seasons as a great role player and is very active in the US in promoting the growth of Lacrosse with his own foundation. More recently in the NLL is Travis Cornwall, a member of the Calgary Roughnecks (and former Minto Cup winner) has become regular member of the squad and hopefully can become a mainstay in the league.


    Box lacrosse among African Americans, African Canadians and Caribbean Canadians has started to expand, but field lacrosse has shown the largest growth. Players like Kyle Harrison have dazzled in field. Kyle Harrison was the number one pick in the MLL draft in 2005, and graduated from Johns Hopkins, one of the most prestigious lacrosse schools in America. The Success of black people in lacrosse has not only been limited to just playing but coaching as well as the head coach of the MLL's Boston Cannons is Bill Daye who led Boston to their 2nd straight league title in 2011 and was named coach of the year. 

    Lacrosse among the black community is starting to shape into something that could be incredible in the next few years. Being a black lacrosse writer is something that I am proud of and who knows what we could have next? The sky's the limit for equality in the sport coming from a black lacrosse writer. 

    That's all for now I'm Avry and I'm out follow me on twitter at @Avry.