After the last weekend of MLL games one thing is for sure. The playoff picture is in no way clear cut. The league leading Boston Cannons have dropped two in a row, to Long Island and Hamilton. In the last two weeks The 2nd place Denver Outlaws have dropped back to back games against the previously 0-7 Rochester Rattlers. Which brings us to this week’s matchup, where these two teams meet.
Against Long Island and Hamilton, the break down is simple for Boston. The Cannons simply have not shown up to play in the second half since the All Star Break. In the two weeks since the break they have gone into the locker room at half time with a lead, and then come out and scored a combined four goals down the stretch in both games. This has to be disheartening to Coach Bill Daye as The Cannons have had the man advantage differential in games, a 50% face off percentage and 35 saves on 56 shots on goal by all accounts winning most of the individual battles. The issue has been turnovers and shot percentage. Without a doubt Drew Adams and Scott Rodgers are playing very well right now for both Hamilton and Long Island. Both goal tenders recorded over 20 saves against The Cannons and there is something to be said for running in to a hot goal tender. However that doesn’t explain the sloppy play with the ball and poor shot selection. Against Long Island, The Cannons had seven man up opportunities and only converted twice. With teams playing for their season at this point, you have to convert on those chances.
Against Rochester the last two weeks, the break down is also simple for Denver. They ran in to a talented young team at the wrong time, and they underestimated them twice. The first game between these two teams was a hard fought battle. Rookie Goalie John Galloway played a great game, held the vaunted Denver offense 8 goals. Most people thought it was bound to happen eventually, that Rochester was too talented to not win a single game this season, but no one predicted the sweep of the home and home. Last week The Denver Outlaws were simply caught napping. The young attack of Ned Crotty, Jordan Mcbride and Grant Cattalino seemed to be able to do whatever they wanted and Goalie Jessie Schwartzman was unable to do anything about it. The end result for Denver, a two game losing streak, locked in a three way tie in the standings, and people questioning if they will be able to make the playoff run.
So what does all this mean? We are in for a great game this weekend. We have two elite offenses, both coming off two game skids, both wanting to answer the critics and both wanting to make a statement. The Cannons and The Outlaws have split the season series and have played two hard fought close games already. Add in the emotion of a losing streak, the pressure of the playoff push and the opportunity to clinch for Boston, you could be in for more fireworks then when these teams played on July 4th.
Boston is going to have to settle in the second half. They need to play all four quarters, control the turn overs and work the ball around for better shot selection. The Cannons dealt with two hot goalies in a row and now All Star Jessie Schwartzman coming off his worst game of the year is going to want to respond.
Denver is going to need to play better team defense in front of Schwartzman. Boston has more weapons then Rochester and if they do not figure out their slides, and switches of defense they will be in for another long night. Brendan Mundorf was held to a single point in each game against Rochester in order for them to beat Boston this week, Mundorf is going to need to show up and play like he did in the first half of the season.
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