Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Rush of Excitement

This is What the Stealth Looked Like Tonight.
By Josh Bourhis

The online feed was bad, there was no sound, but it was an exciting game for the Rush as they shot down the Stealth 16-5 to go 1-1 on the season.

The Stealth dropped to 0-3 and looked invisible in all phases of the game. Their big name players, Duch and Ratcliff, combined for 21 of the Stealth's 48 shots, and contributed only two goals. To add to the list of negatives for the Stealth in this debacle, was Tyler Richards, making just one save before being pulled in the second quarter after nine goals against. Dean Hill in his first game against his former club did absolutely nothing, but then again, who from the Stealth did?

The first half began the same as last weeks, with the Rush taking an early lead, but unlike last week the Rush kept their foot on the gas and entered half-time with a seven goal cushion. Corey Small and Shawn Williams lead the charge with four points each. The Rush in this half got lots of good shots and started to cut through the middle, something they didn't do enough of in their opener last week. The second half was less of the rush putting the pressure on, and more of them maintaining the lead and getting out of this one. It's always good to have a big lead, but it's hard to keep up the same pace all the way through.

Highlights for the Rush include "Stone Cold Aaron Bold" having a fantastic showing, with a .896 save percentage. This is the type of game he needed to play this early in the season, to gain confidence in his first year as a starter.  Corey Small, who tallied eight points, recorded as nine on NLL.com, but should be eight as he cannot have an assist on his own goal, was the top scorer in the game. Other players with a fantastic game tonight were Shawn Williams with a six point night and Scott Evans, who helped with a six point night also. The Defence played great and was a major contributor to Bold's night as they helped keep the shots to the outside where he could see them easier. Kyle Rubisch was the defensive stand-out, collecting 13 loose balls, and playing his man close all night.

Key Points: 


Rush:
-This is the Rush's largest margin of victory in team history, with an 11 goal margin tonight.
-The offence exploded tonight, taking good shots and capitalizing on their chances.
-The Rush were 24% in the faceoff circle, which has been a problem for many years, something that if improved, will set them apart from majority of the teams in the league.

Stealth:
-At least it wasn't 20-5. Sorry, I'm not Helping am I?
-They now know they have a lot to fix.

3 Stars:

3. Scott Evans: 2 Goals 4 Assists 7 Loose Balls 2 Penalty Minutes

2. Corey Small: 2 Goals 6 Assists

1. Aaron Bold: 43 Saves .896 Save% 5 Goals Against

Final Grade:

Rush: A-

Stealth: D-

Follow @Boursey on Twitter

GDB 2: Stealth Mission


AHHHHH! I'M LOUDER THAN YOU! AHHHHH 
Tonight the Edmonton Rush will travel to Everett to play the Stealth after losing 13-12 to Colorado in their home opener last week. The Stealth are winless this year after losing in overtime to Philadelphia last week, and Calgary the week before.

For Washington, Offense has been a problem that they haven't had in quite a while. Lewis Ratcliff, who finished second in league scoring last year, currently sits 34th, while Rhys Duch, who finished 4th last season, sits at #22. They also have the lowest goals per game average, scoring only 9.5 times a game so far.

Even more good news for Washington fans is that neither Eric Martin or Jeff Zywicki will be playing tonight because of injury. Wait did I say good news? I meant the opposite, bad news.

If there is any glimmering light right now it's the play of Tyler Richards who is sporting a .780 save percentage and a 10.71 goals against average.

Edmonton's offense looked good last week and could prove difficult for the Stealth defense, which has never been the strongest part of their team.

Keys To The Game:


Edmonton: Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots, Shots-
If there was a fault in Edmonton's game last week, it was the fact that they were outshot 54-41. If they can get more shots on goal, the goals will follow.

Washington: Make The Stars Shine-
Duch and Ratcliff may be off to slow starts, but if they get going again, the Stealth offense becomes one that is hard to match.

Prediction: Edmonton 16-14 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Best And Worst Of NLL Mascots

Pictured: Me upon meeting most mascots
By Josh Bourhis

Mascots can bring joy to little kids, or make them cry. They can pump up a crowd, or make you never want to go outside again. They can make you feel good when you're down, or give you nightmares. So what does this post have to do with lacrosse you ask? Mascots have been in sports for years and for a fun post I thought I would talk about the good, and the bad of mascots.

We don't have a deep history, but we can tell you there have been some real... interesting mascots.

See them all below the jump!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mammoth Get Past Rush In A Heartbreaker

Photo Credit: Larry Wong 
By Avry Lewis-McDougall
The game came down to the final seconds, and the ball was with John Grant Jr. That doesn't usually spell good things for other clubs as Colorado got past Edmonton 13-12 in the home opener for the Rush.

The game started off well for the Rush as they were able to get thanks to Corey Small, Zack Greer and Scott Evans 3 goals on 3 shots past Chris Levis to get the reeling early but that did not last for long. The Mammoth responded with goals of their own testing Aaron Bold often in the 1st and 2nd quarter. Adam Jones, John Grant and Jed Prosner brought the Colorado offense to life and before you could say "two scoops of raisins in a corporate cereal" 3-0 Edmonton turned into 7-4 Colorado by halftime.

The start of the 3rd was more Colorado making things hard for Bold (minus a Zack Greer goal to make it 7-5) in his Rush debut. The Mammoth dominated in shots on net and this game could have easily gotten out of hand but Derek Keenan's troops battled back.

The away team stretched the lead to 9-5 thanks to guess who again? John Grant Jr and Adam Jones. With some help from former Rush member Gavin Prout, they continued to make the handful of Mammoth fans at the game happy.

Edmonton late in the 3rd and early in the fourth capitalized on a series of powerplays to come back to make it a 9-9 game courtesy of Shawn Williams (9 points tonight, 1 goal and 8 helpers). Small, Ryan Ward, and Brett Mydske hung around to keep it a one goal game but then as I mentioned early, JGJ struck again to break the hearts of Rush fans with a goal with 14 seconds left on the clock to make it 13-12.

Avry's Points:

-Shawn Williams 9 point night was phenomenal debut, breaking records for most points and most assists by a Rush player in a single game.
-Aaron Bold faced a lot of shots tonight and he's going to need more help come next week vs Washington. The shots early in the 2nd were 36-15 Colorado, yikes!
-Small, Ward and Greer showed why they have been key cogs for the Rush before with their play tonight.
-Making sure John Grant Jr does not get a shot off late in the game is an absolute must in a tie game.
-Adam Jones is scary good for the Mammoth as a rookie with an 8 point outburst tonight!

Colorado heads to Calgary to face the Roughnecks on January 21st and The Rush are in action again at Washington on January 28th.

Friday, January 20, 2012

GDB 1: The Opener


By Josh Bourhis

The Edmonton Rush are looking to start the season with a bang against the Colorado Mammoth at home tonight. They have to; Losing this year isn't an option. After making the playoffs only once in their first six seasons, the demand for success is getting high in Edmonton, especially from the fans. This leads us into the preview for Tonight's game.

The Colorado Mammoth, (1-0) after a high scoring affair last week against the Swarm look to spoil the excitement for the new look Rush and their fans.

The Rush, finishing last in the West (5-11) last year, made a big splash this offseason, by replacing players like Brodie Merrill, Andy Secore, Matt Disher, Scott Stewart, and Bill Greer, with new players like Goalie Aaron Bold, Forwards Shawn Williams and Aaron Wilson, Defensemen Kyle Rubisch, Chris Corbeil, and Ryan Dilks. Keep an eye out for these players to make big plays tonight.

The big topic is Aaron Bold (pictured below), who will be the number one goaltender going into the season. Playing only 30 minutes last year for the Rochester Knighthawks, he is looking to finally make the jump to being a starter.


On Colorado's side, John Grant Jr. made a big impact last weekend, notching 4 goals and 11 points against the Swarm. Chris Levis made 47 saves, and the powerplay really clicked for Colorado last week going 4 for 6 for 66%.


Players To Watch:

Mammoth:

John Grant Jr.-Forward
Gavin Prout-Forward
Sean Pollock-Forward
Chris Levis-Goalie

Rush:

Aaron Bold-Goalie
Corey Small-Forward
Jimmy Quinlan-New Captain
Kyle Rubisch-Defense


Keys for tonight's game:

Rush:

Capitalizing on Loose Balls: The Swarm picked up 96 loose balls to Colorado's 67 last week, yet the score was 20-14 in favour of the Mammoth. The Rush need to get the ball, Transition fast, and get scoring chances.
Sticks on Sticks: The Mammoth have a good Offense, with John Grant Jr. Gavin Prout, and Sean Pollock. The Rush defenders need to make sure that their sticks are always up and must prevent shots from getting on goal.
Goaltending: It's another year with a new Rush goalie. Bold needs to make key stops and not let in 20. He needs to get the crowd behind him early and he will gain confidence.

Colorado:

Test Aaron Bold Early: Okay, complete opposite of the Rush's key to victory, Don't let him get comfortable or let the crowd get behind him.
Faceoffs: Colorado was 26% on faceoffs last game. This needs to improve as getting possession after a goal is key to keep momentum, or if it was a goal against, cut off the other teams momentum. Controlling the ball, slowing the play down, and setting up plays will be a major factor.
Special Teams: Colorado had a good powerplay last week. They need to keep making the most of the man advantage situations.

Last Minute of Play:
Athan Ianucci, who was aquired in the Brodie Merrill trade, has yet to sign with the Rush. This is a big loss for the offense, but I feel the Rush will still be able to get it done. Corey Small and Shawn Williams will be the anchors on the Offense, with support from Ryan Ward and newly acquired Aaron Wilson.

Odds and Ends:
The Rush Debut their new Home Jerseys for the season. Let's hope they aren't going to be the 'Edmonton Edmonton Rush" in front of their own fans because I'm pretty sure the fans know what city their team plays in.

Prediction: I think the final score will be 14-12 in favour of the Rush. Having a good home record will be key for the Rush this year.

Follow me @Boursey on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Digging Deeper Into Effective Shooting

By Dan Shirley

A little while ago Mike introduced my effective shooting percentage metric which prompted me to finally take the initiative to crunch the numbers from last season. Well, it wasn't really crunching the numbers as much as copy and pasting the numbers from the NLL website into Excel and dragging formulas all around. While doing this I realized something that was pretty cool (I promise, it's interesting).

I know that baseball is not a favorable word around lacrosse blogs so I'll apologize up front for using it but that's what this post relates to. Most of you probably know what batting average is (hits divided by at bats) but not many of you might know what the Mendoza Line is. The Mendoza Line originated from teammates of a player named Mario Mendoza teasing other players about their batting average. Mendoza played for the Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Texas Rangers and was known for having a low batting average (0.215 over nine seasons). A player whose BA drops below 0.200 is said to be hitting below the Mendoza Line which means that their offensive production is so poor that their defensive skills, no matter how good, can not compensate for the lack of hits and they are not worth keeping in the lineup.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roughnecks Defeat Rock In 2012 Season Opener

The NLL opened its season Sunday night with the Calgary Roughnecks facing off against the Rock in Toronto.  On this night 2 significant things took place at the ACC:
  1. The Rock raised their championship banner from last year
  2. Matt Roik started his task to step in for the retired Bob Watson
Quick Recap:


The first quarter was all Toronto as the Rock stepped up to a 5 nothing lead at the end of the opening  quarter. Josh Sanderson, Garrett Billings, Sandy Chapman, Stephen Hoar, and Kasey Beirnes all tallied in the first.

The Second quarter opened with Cory Conway getting the Roughnecks on board and Blaine Manning taking it right back for Toronto just 34 seconds later. Dane Dobbie then scored  a beautiful behind the back shot that tarted a 6 goal run by Calgary that included goals from Mike Carnegie, Shawn Evans, Daryl Veltman, and Jeff Shattler. It may have looked like Toronto's power would be to much for the Roughnecks, but they came back and had the score tied at 8 going into the 4th quarter. 

Scott Ranger put up his 2 goals on the night to put the Calgary up 10-8, before Dan Carey potted his second of the night to cut the lead to 1. 

The biggest goal of the game came when Dane Dobbie took the ball to the net and and crease-dove to score and put the game away. The goal went under review and was definitively a close call. I personally gave it the thumbs up and so did the referees. Dobbie completed the hat-trick on an empty netter and Calgary took home a 12-9 victory. 

Top Shooters:


Player
eS%
Scott Ranger (Cal)

Shawn Evans (Cal)
0.389%

0.32%
Josh Sanderson (Tor)
0.28%
Dan Carey (Tor)
0.28%
Dane Dobbie (Cal)
0.27%
Kasey Beirnes (Tor)
0.25%

Players Of The Game:

Calgary: Dane Dobbie- Dobbie had 3 goals and 3 assists as well as the most important goal for his team.

Toronto: Matt Roik- Roik shut out the Roughnecks in the first quarter and made 44 saves with a few big ones down the stretch. The game might not have turned out favorable for him, but the loss was in no way his fault. 

What's Next:
Toronto heads down to Buffalo to face the Bandits, while Calgary travels to Washington to go head to head with the Stealth.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 Team Effective Shooting Percentage


This Summer NLL Blogger Dan Shirley came up with a new advanced stat for shooting percentage in lacrosse. Regular shooting percentage is simple: You take the number of goals divided by the number of shots taken, a 1 to 1 ratio being 100%. Dan saw a problem with this and it's that not all shots are worth the same. There is a difference between a shot that ends up in the corner, and one that that hits the crossbar.

His way to filter out the idea that all shots are worth the same is called Effective Shooting Percentage (eS%).

eS%=(Goals/Shots)(1-((Goals- Shots on Goal)/Shots))

Using this formula, we can see how efficient last years teams (except for Boston) were at shooting:
eS%
Minnesota
0.329%
Washington
0.291%
Rochester
0.289%
Calgary
0.280%
Toronto
0.276%
Buffalo
0.253%
Edmonton
0.251%
Philadelphia
0.226%
Colorado
0.226%

The teams near the top could still have a good chance at winning even with a lesser amount of shots, while lower teams would need to shoot more to score the same amount. 

The chart above will have nothing to do with this years squads as there have been many offseason transactions, but you will be seeing this format in the future as we look at teams and players as the 2012 season moves along. (Hint: Colorado's probably going to stay at the bottom)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

NLL Blog Twitter

Yes you can follow your favorite lacrosse blog on twitter, and us too!

@TheNLLBlog

Be a cool person and give it a follow!

2012 NLL Season Predictions

Ah, January, The time of year when the NLL starts its season and I steal Graeme Perrow's prediction format. Is there a better time of the year? Probably. Like, maybe summer. They play lacrosse then too and it's not so cold. Although, we have a warm winter so it hasn't been so bad. Anyways, on with the predictions!

East Division:
  1. Toronto Rock
  2. Buffalo Bandits
  3. Philadelphia Wings
  4. Rochester Knighthawks 
West Division:
  1. Calgary Roughnecks
  2. Edmonton Rush
  3. Washington Stealth
  4. Colorado Mammoth 
  5. Minnesota Swarm
Why you may ask? Well here's why nosy person!

East:

  •  Toronto won the Cup last year and have improved their offence and defense coming into this season. Yes they lost Kyle Ross, Creighton Reid, and Jeff Gilbert, but they also gained Bill Greer, Bruce Codd, a healthy Ryan Sharp. On offense they bring the human concussion Dan Carey and future Hall of famer Josh Sanderson. The Rock can only hope Carey can power through that awful sound they use for a shot clock that sounds like a train being derailed. Finally, in goal, Matt Roik will have some big shoes to fill blah blah blah blah you know the story. Honestly Matt Roik will be fine, calm down Toronto fans. With that team in front of him they could dress a shooter tutor and still grab a home playoff date and I think Roik is a tad better than that.
  • Buffalo is Buffalo. John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Mikey Thompson. Oh What's that? Sure lets throw in Kevin Buchanan, Luke Wiles, and Matt Giles. They will without a doubt compete for first in the East, but Toronto is the golden standard to me. 
  • Philadelphia was god awful last year. They scored less goals than everyone, even Colorado. The only thing that allowed them to actually win a few games was Brandon Miller. Now adding Dan Dawson, Brodie Merrill, and rookie Kevin Crowley into the mix and this team is dangerous. I have them third, but I won't be surprised if I am wrong. 
  • The Knighthawks lost both of their top 2 scores from last year when they traded Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams to Calgary and Edmonton respectively, and now have a potentially strong, but young offense. The squad has amazing talent, but inexperience will be their downfall. I don't expect them to be terrible, especially with Matt Vinc in goal, but the teams that they share the East with will make it tough for them to move from the bottom of the standings upward. 
West: 

  • Calgary surprised the league last year with their first place effort after trading away Josh Sanderson and Tracey Kelusky, both players being top 3 scorers. Jeff Shattler went from scoring 51 points in 2010 to scoring 75 points and capturing both the Transition Player Of The Year and the MVP awards, Scott Ranger went from 51 points in 2010 to 61 points in 2011, and rookie Curtis Dickson broke into the league scoring 52 points and winning the Rookie Of The Year. Even Mike Poulin added 5 points! This was either a year of gross overachieving or one where they reached their potential. I believe in the latter concept and see this team staying at the top. It also doesn't hurt when you add a guy who scored 73 points last year in Shawn Evans. 
  •  You can see my entire Rush breakdown here. If you are too lazy to read it, just trust me on this one.
  •  The Stealth didn't do much this offseason, and why should they? Why fix it if it ain't broken? Kyle Ross will strengthen their defense and a healthy Jeff Zywicki will make up for the loss of Luke Wiles. Tyler Richards finished his Summer season with a league leading .850 Save Percentage and stood on his head in the NLL Championship so expect a great season from him. I may have Washington finishing 3rd, but I'm not counting them out from another run at the cup.  
  • Colorado has boasted its defense with guys like Rory Smith, Jon Sullivan, Creighton Reid, and John Orsen. Another strong year from Levis and the Mammoth will likely keep a lot of balls out of the net. Now, they may have lost Brian Langtry and Dan Carey, but it's not like they had outstanding seasons last year anyways. Yes they added 75 points between them, but i'm sure they replaced them. Oh wait? They didn't? So who's going to score all the goals? Jr. and Prout? Good luck with that.
  • This offseason, the Swarm traded most of their roster for draft picks. We may all laugh now, but it is them who will be laughing in the future. Good thing for us is that that is the future and we can still laugh/question now.
MVP: Stephan Leblanc

Goaltender Of The Year: Tyler Richards

Defensive Player Of The Year: Kyle Rubisch

Transition Player Of The Year: Brodie Merrill

Monday, January 2, 2012

Iannucci Ready To Dominate The NLL Prison Style


Nooch's love for money is going to give him a path to jail, and when it does, he will be ready. I too am waiting for someone to buck up and set him loose on the gen-pop. #Noochholdout




Yo Yo Yo

What's up folks, like Mike said in his last post welcome back to the NLL Blog! We've been gone for a bit but don't worry we will provide you with plenty of juice Lacrosse content this season. Allow me to re introduce myself

-I'm Avry Lewis-McDougall writer/co owner/goof of the site.
-I've followed Lacrosse going on 12 seasons now and have enjoyed every one.
-Cover mainly the Rush but the rest of the League will get love because I'm un-biased like that
-I had to do this after losing a bet to Mike last season...


-Not my best bet to lose and as you can see I'm a black lacrosse reporter and I could have used some lotion on my hands.
-Follow me on twitter at @Avry




Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome Back, Welcome back, Welcome back!

Welcome back to the NLL Blog! It's been a while since we've last ventured the catacombs of this site, and a lot has happened since then. If you have experienced amnesia, or are new to the site, here are some things to remember/ learn for the first time:


  • My name is Mike Wilson, and I am the Owner/Head Writer/Intern/Doughnut Boy for the site. 
  • I wrote here, moved here, went somewhere else, and now I'm back here. 
  • I am a Rush Fan, so I may show some homerism, although I won't hate on your team because of it. If I make fun of your team, I will TRY to have a reason besides "Because they suck".
  • If you do suck, I'll try to let you know.
  • Commenting is cool. Please do that. You can do anonymously, or with your actually identity. 
  • Corey Small is a cool guy.
  • So are these guys:


(Photo: Martin Allinson)


  • Check out "The Other Guys" on the sidebar. They have great stuff. 
  • I have a Twitter @MyqWilson