Week 10 picks

And my streak continues. Other than week 1 which only consisted of a single game, I am 2-2 in every odd numbered week, and .500 or lower in every even numbered week. The last five weeks have alternated between 2-2 and 1-3, and that will end this week since there are six games.
John Grant will not be playing in Colorado’s two games this weekend, which may or may not make the picks in the Colorado games easier. After all, Rochester lost five players (including their top scorer) for one week and won, then lost when those players returned. I have said at least twice this season that Colorado’s offense was based mainly around Grant and if he were to get injured or started slumping, they wouldn’t be able to recover as well as other teams with more balanced offense. Now we’ll see how prescient those statements were.
Record: 14-21 (.400)

Game
Comments
Pick
CAL @ EDM Edmonton is a better team than their record indicates. If their offense can start clicking, their defense is good enough to make them contenders. But that has to start happening pretty soon, or it might be too late.  They’ve only had two home games, but they beat Philly last weekend at home, and they’ll be motivated to put on a good show for their Twitter jersey game. Rush
PHI @ TOR The Rock’s last four games were: two blowouts against Philly (one in each direction), then a convincing win against a good team (Rochester), and a humiliating loss against a bad team (Washington). Depending on which Rock team shows up this weekend, it could be good or it could be very bad for them. Philly’s on a two-game losing streak, but first place and the season series is on the line, so expect a hard-fought game. Rock
EDM @ CAL Yeah, the post-All-Star-game Rush will be better than the pre-All-Star-game Rush, but sweeping the Roughnecks? Not there yet. Roughnecks
WAS @ COL OMG look at me picking Washington. A couple of weeks ago this would have been a no-brainer: Colorado sweeps the Stealth, with the over-under on the weekend goal differential around 15. But since then the Mammoth have proved that they are beatable, and the Stealth have proved that there is indeed a good lacrosse team buried under there somewhere. The Stealth’s fortunes will continue – for one game, anyway. I actually made this pick before it was announced that Grant would be out, but I’m a little more confident in it now. Stealth
BUF @ ROC Buffalo can’t lose six in a row, can they? Well, I also thought they couldn’t lose three in a row, or four, or five. I expect Cosmo to have a better game as he shakes off more rust, but the Knighthawks are getting great production out of Cody Jamieson and great leadership and production out of Mike Accursi, and Matt Vinc had a great game against Philly. Hawks in a close one. Knighthawks
COL @ WAS Yeah, the post-All-Star-game Stealth will be better than the pre-All-Star-game Stealth, but sweeping the Mammoth? Not there yet. Mammoth

Previous weeks:
Week 1 – 0-1
Week 2 – 2-2
Week 3 – 2-2
Week 4 – 2-4
Week 5 – 2-2
Week 6 – 1-3
Week 7 – 2-2
Week 8 – 1-3
Week 9 – 2-2

Attendance away from home, Pt. 2

I looked over the 2012 NLL attendance stats yesterday and decided that the Bandits were the biggest draw in the league. I explained why and described the method I used to come up with that conclusion. I also said that my conclusion was wrong. Well, kind of. As it turns out, my conclusion was right but (a) the method I used was slightly flawed, and (b) there are really too few games to make a definite conclusion. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I will describe the flaw in my reasoning by way of an example using made up numbers. Let’s use the same example as before – Toronto playing in Colorado and Buffalo, and Rochester playing in Minnesota and Washington, and we want to find out which team (of Toronto and Rochester) had the biggest impact on attendance. Let’s say for simplicity that each game’s attendance is 500 higher than the average attendance for that arena. Using the previously described method, the average draw for both Toronto and Rochester would be 500, and so we’d conclude that they have roughly the same impact on attendance. This is false.

The reason that it’s false is this: bringing in an extra 500 people to a game in Colorado is not as big a deal as bringing in an extra 500 people to a game in Washington. Colorado’s average home attendance is 14626, so an extra 500 people would increase attendance by 3.42%. But Washington’s average is only 4017, so an extra 500 people means a 12.45% increase. Rochester’s presence in Washington had four times the effect on attendance than Toronto’s presence in Colorado. Once again, we need to factor out the average attendance by using the draw percentage rather than the draw. In this case, the draw percentage for Toronto was 3.42% in Colorado and 3.26% in Buffalo while the draw percentage for Rochester was 12.45% in Washington and 6.38% in Minnesota. Toronto’s average draw percentage was 3.35% while Rochester’s was 9.42%. While our previous calculation showed no difference in the draw numbers, in actual fact Rochester had about three times the impact on attendance than Toronto did.

Let’s add the draw percentage to our previous table. Note also that the attendance for the Minnesota @ Washington game from Feb. 24 was not included in the game sheet until today. This affects Washington’s home average attendance, and therefore the draw numbers for teams that have played there (Calgary, Edmonton, and Minnesota). I’ve updated the numbers from the previous article.

Team Away Games Average Draw Average Draw Percentage
Buffalo Bandits 3 961 13.6%
Colorado Mammoth 4 920 10.9%
Rochester Knighthawks 6 279 2.4%
Calgary Roughnecks 4 84 1.1%
Toronto Rock 3 -50 -2.6%
Edmonton Rush 4 -330 -2.9%
Washington Stealth 4 -525 -5.7%
Philadelphia Wings 3 -627 -6.1%
Minnesota Swarm 4 -780 -11.0%

Despite the flaw in my logic, the ordering remains the same, and therefore the conclusion remains the same: the Bandits are the winners. Or so it looks.

As I briefly mentioned before, the biggest problem with this whole scheme is sample size. Buffalo has the highest draw percentage, but this is only based on three games. One of those games was in Rochester, which is close enough to Buffalo that many of the fans in the Rochester arena actually drove from Buffalo. Indeed, the draw percentage for that game alone is 38.3%, while the draw percentages for the other Buffalo away games were 5.0 and –2.6 in Philadelphia. That one game skewed Buffalo’s draw percentage to the top of the heap, while Colorado has positive draw percentages (10.0%, 15.0%, 15.2%, and 3.4%) in all four of their away games, so you could also argue that Colorado is really the biggest draw.

If I were to take the attendance numbers for the past five years and calculate the draw percentage, then perhaps the numbers would be meaningful but half a season’s worth of data is just not enough.

Attendance away from home

I have a database containing information on every game (including every goal) in the NLL this year. I’ve been looking at goal totals, assist totals, and weird combinations like “which quarter has seen the most power play goals scored?” (Answer: the 4th overall, though Minnesota and Philly like the 2nd better). I then started to look at the attendance numbers to figure out which were the teams that fans in other cities wanted to see.


Background (you can skip this section if you’re not interested in where this database came from):

As part of my work writing the Money Ballers columns on ILIndoor.com, I wrote up a program (a python script, if you care) to download and read the game sheets for each game from NLL.com and calculate the Money Ballers points for each player. This was a lot faster and easier than the error-prone manual way I did it for the first week or two. I then realized that I could modify my program slightly to record a bunch of information about each game in a database. I’ve been working for Sybase, writing software for a SQL database engine, for almost fifteen years, so I kind of know what I’m doing there.

I changed my script to store information on each game (home/away teams, winner/loser, final score, attendance) and each goal (scorer, first and second assist, what quarter, what time within the quarter, and whether it was power play, shorthanded, game-tying, go-ahead, game-winning, empty net, or penalty shot). I will hopefully be adding other stats like shots on goal, loose balls, penalties, etc. in the future. This is all stored in a Sybase SQL Anywhere database, and I have stored procedures written in SQL to serve up web pages displaying and aggregating these stats in various ways. And no, these web pages are not available on the internet, only on my laptop. Sorry.


My page on attendance originally contained the following numbers for each team:

  • Total attendance (Colorado is the only team over 100,000 this season)
  • Average attendance (Colorado leading, 12,614)
  • Home average (Buffalo leading, 15,318)
  • # home games
  • Away average (Colorado leading, 10,602)
  • # away games

The away average seemed like the best way to figure out who the biggest draw was, but I quickly realized that this number was heavily skewed by the cities that a particular team had visited. For example, say you wanted to decide which would increase attendance more for any given team: hosting Toronto or hosting Rochester. If each has played two away games but Toronto has played in Colorado and Buffalo, while Rochester has played in Washington and Minnesota, then you can’t compare the averages. To compare them would be meaningless because Colorado and Buffalo get far higher attendance numbers than Washington or Minnesota regardless of who’s visiting. This means that the fact that Toronto’s away average is in the 15,000 area while Rochester’s is maybe 6,000 doesn’t tell us anything. We need a way to take away the differences in average attendance.

To to this, I took the attendance for a particular game and subtracted the average home attendance for the home team. For example, Calgary’s average home attendance so far this season is 8,122. When Colorado played in Calgary, the attendance for that game was 9,341.This means that all other things being equal, Colorado increased the attendance by 1,219. I call this difference the draw, so Colorado’s draw for that game was 1,219. If the attendance for a particular game is less than the average for that arena, then the draw for that game is negative. Doing this for all of Colorado’s away games and taking the average gives you the average draw. For Colorado this number is 920. This means that regardless of what arena you are talking about, having Colorado in town increases the attendance by about 920 people.

This scheme factors out the huge differences in attendance averages at the various arenas, making them more easily comparable. But they’re still not going to be 100% accurate, for a number of reasons. First off, we’re talking about a very small sample size – only a handful of games per team. Secondly, attendance can be affected by many other factors, including which night of the week the game is, the time of the game, the weather in the city at the time, how the team is doing (if the team is losing, some people may not bother going to the game regardless of who the visitor is), how the visiting team is doing (more people might have come out to see Washington last year than this year) and even how other sports teams in the city are doing (a Mammoth game in Denver on Super Bowl weekend will not draw the same if the Broncos are playing than it would if they are not).

There is no way to adjust the numbers to account for all of these factors, but here are the numbers for the draw for each team.

Team Away Games Average Draw
Buffalo Bandits 3 961
Colorado Mammoth 4 920
Rochester Knighthawks 6 279
Calgary Roughnecks 4 32
Toronto Rock 3 -50
Edmonton Rush 4 -356
Washington Stealth 4 -525
Philadelphia Wings 3 -627
Minnesota Swarm 4 -935

We can see that the Buffalo Bandits are the biggest draw in the league, bumping attendance by an average of 961 people per game. Colorado is next at 920. The Roughnecks and the Rock don’t make much of a difference, while having the Swarm in town reduces attendance by 935 per game. Again, because of the small sample sizes it’s hard to draw meaningful conclusions, so perhaps we’ll wait until the end of the season and see what the numbers look like then. I plan on expanding my database to include games and stats from previous seasons, though it looks like I won’t be able to get the detailed goal information since the game sheets don’t contain them. The attendance is there, so I may be able to get data for the past 2-3 (or even more!) seasons.

This article is the first in a short series about attendance. Next time: why my conclusion above is wrong and how to fix it.

Game report: Washington 14 @ Toronto 9

In last night’s Rock / Stealth matchup, we had a 1-6 team that has been struggling on offense all year, and a 4-3 team that’s contending for first place in their division. Strangely, each team looked like the other as the Stealth pulled out a 14-9 victory in Toronto. The Stealth scored early, taking a 1-0 lead a minute in, and the Rock were never really in it at all.

How bad was the Rock offense? Leblanc, Billings, and Sanderson had four points each. Nobody else on the Rock offense had a single point. Eight members of the defense / transition had a point each, and Pat Campbell got a point as well. At one point while the Rock were in the offensive zone I thought to myself “It’d be nice to get a short-handed goal here before this Stealth power play is over” and then realized that the Stealth weren’t on the power play at that point, it just seemed like it.

As for the Stealth, Dean Hill led the way with 5 points (2+3), Jeff Zywicki was welcomed back with open arms as he scored two and added two helpers, and Lewis Ratcliff had 2+2 as well. Athan Iannucci has now scored one goal and two assists in each of this three games as a member of the Stealth.

Kevin Croswell, who was just signed on Thursday and is so new to the Stealth that his jersey didn’t even have his name on it, was outstanding in goal. He made a number of excellent saves, though many of the Rock’s 50 shots hit him square in the chest. The Stealth defense, who I recently graded an F, was also excellent in preventing the Rock from getting many decent shots.

The Rock defense, on the other hand, allowed plenty of good shot opportunities, many of which were converted by the Stealth. Matt Roik started but was pulled early in the third.  He wasn’t terrible but wasn’t great either, allowing 9 goals on 30 shots. Pat Campbell came in and allowed a fairly easy one within the first couple of minutes, but then settled down and only allowed 3 more. Campbell made some pretty impressive saves himself and stopped 22 of 26 shots, though he ended up getting tagged with the loss. Campbell is, shall we say, a very energetic goaltender, jumping and bouncing around like his pads were on fire. When he makes a save, he immediately passes the ball to someone, almost as if he’s panicking and wants to get rid of it as soon as possible. I’m sure there’s no panic involved, that’s just how it looked.

I tweeted during the game that the Stealth did not look like a 1-6 team, and they definitely did not look like a 1-6 team who were missing their top scorer and their #1 goalie. A little later, my friend Faisal said the same thing. Kudos to the Stealth for what was likely their best game of the season. All the ILIndoor people, all the In Lax We Trust people, and Jon Turner, and I (my picks) all picked the Rock to win this game, possibly the first unanimous game all season. People have been spouting the whole “any team can beat any other team on any given night” thing all season long, and I’ve been getting kind of tired of hearing it. But the fact that the Stealth won this game in such a convincing fashion proves that it’s true.

Other game notes:

  • Damn, that Iannucci fella’s big. He looked like he was wearing football shoulder pads but I think he’s just that big.
  • There was one fight, in the 2nd quarter between Cliff Smith and Rock newcomer Scott Johnston. It was pretty long but rather boring, with a lot of struggling but few punches thrown. I don’t remember who won since I kind of lost interest, and I’m not sure what triggered it either. At the time, I suspected it was just Johnston doing the “I’m the new guy, I need to make an impact” thing.
  • I asked my friend Steve at halftime whether he thought it was the Rock offense that was so bad or the Stealth defense that was so good. His response: “Yes.”
  • The Rock had at least three goals called back because of crease violations, which is not a complaint – the calls were correct. The Stealth had a couple called back as well, though Teddy Jenner and Rhys Duch (both watching on TV) said on twitter that these were bad calls. Not that this means they’re wrong, but they both do have a wee bit of a Stealth bias.
  • Not everything was sucky for the Rock. Damon Edwards and Jesse Gamble both looked really good on transition, and Stephan Leblanc did have four goals, though I think he led the team in “shots that hit the goalie in the chest”.
  • In the fourth, Campbell was hit by someone and fell while the Rock ran up the floor with the ball. It wasn’t that hard a hit and Campbell got up again. The ref then decided that for whatever reason the Stealth should have possession, and then Campbell fell back down again, apparently in pain. It really looked like Campbell waited until the possession call before deciding he was hurt, though it’s highly possible that he was not faking anything and the timing just make it look that way. The Rock were given an unsportsmanlike conduct bench minor (which was announced as simply “bench minor”) on the same play, so I have to wonder if the refs thought the same thing.

The Leafs and Raptors need a Terry

A little over three years ago, I wrote an article about the General Managers of the Leafs, Raptors, and Rock. The Leafs had just hired Brian Burke as their new GM, and it seemed that the Toronto media had already decided that he was going to save the team; in fact, I facetiously referred to him as Our Saviour for a while after that. Bryan Colangelo had been the Raptors’ GM for a year or two, and had done a pretty good job of turning around the mess that Rob Babcock had left behind. The Rock still had Mike Kloepfer as GM, and the team sucked.

My article suggested that the Rock needed to get rid of Kloepfer and hire themselves a “Brian” who would overhaul the team and make them not suck, which Burke and Colangelo were obviously about to do with the Leafs and Raptors. One of the suggestions I gave for who could take over was Terry Sanderson, and another was Jamie Batley. Ironically, less then four hours after I posted that article, the Rock did fire coach Glenn Clark, who was at least part of the problem, and Batley was hired as coach. The rest of the problem was solved at the end of the season when Mike Kloepfer resigned. A month later Sanderson was re-hired as GM. The next season (2010), the Rock went to the Championship game and in 2011, they won it all. We’re now midway through the 2012 season, and the Rock are tied for first place in the Eastern division. I’d call that mission accomplished.

I could pat myself on the back for predicting the Rock’s next course of action (kind of – I suggested Sanderson though I said it was unlikely), but the original point of my article was lost. It wasn’t so much that the Rock needed a new GM,  it was that the Rock needed to do what the Leafs and Raptors did and replace their rookie GM who screwed the team up with a proven veteran who could turn it around. The Rock did that, but the Leafs and Raptors haven’t had nearly the success that we all envisioned when Our Saviours came to power.

In the 3 seasons prior to Burke’s being hired, the Leafs had 91, 83, and 81 points and missed the playoffs every year. In the two full seasons since, they had 74 and 85 points and missed the playoffs every year. This year they’re on pace for 83 points and missing the playoffs. They don’t have any first-round draft picks for a couple of years because of the Kessel trade, so the rebuilding process will be continuing for a long while.

Update: My timing was off. The picks involved in the Kessel deal were for the last two drafts, so that’s done now. Thanks Faisal for the clarification!

Bryan Colangelo was hired by the Raptors in February 2006, six years and a week ago. In the first couple of years, Colangelo looked brilliant. The Raptors finished first in the Atlantic division the very next year, and Sam Mitchell was named Coach of the Year and Colangelo Executive of the Year. The Raptors lost in the first round of the playoffs, but made the playoffs again the next year. They lost again in the first round, and then things went south quickly. They haven’t made the playoffs since and haven’t really been much of a threat at all. Last season they were a hopeless 22-60 and this year they’re not much better at 11-25.

Barring miracles, the Leafs and Raptors are not likely to win championships during the Burke / Colangelo eras. I’m not suggesting firing them now, though I think the Colangelo era has run its course and unless the Raptors start turning things around on the floor very soon, Colangelo should be done at the end of the year. I don’t think Burke has done a terrible job; he’s acquired some players who have been great like Phaneuf and Lupul. The fact that the goaltenders play like Turk Broda one week and a turkey sandwich the next isn’t entirely Burke’s fault. I’d give him another year or two to right the ship but unless obvious improvement is made, he’s gone too.

Three years ago, I said that the Rock needed to find their Brian, and they did. Now the Leafs and Raptors need to find their Terry Sanderson.

NLL Mid-season report: West division

Following my recent mid-season report on the East, let’s take a look at the NLL West. We have two awesome teams, one in the middle (but on the high side), and one not scoring but doing very well defensively. And the Stealth.

 

Roughnecks Calgary Roughnecks

Offense: A+

Best in the league, at 13.6 goals per game. They only have one player in the top ten in scoring, but five in the top 25. Hell, even their goalie is averaging more than a point per game. They haven’t scored fewer than 12 goals in any game, and scored 21 last week against a previously-undefeated team. They’ve only lost twice, both in overtime. With a couple of lucky bounces, the Roughnecks could easily be 7-0.

Defense: A

Only one team has allowed fewer goals than the Roughnecks, and that’s the Rush who also have a great defense, but have played one fewer game. Note that the Bandits have also played one fewer game than Calgary, but Buffalo has allowed one more goal. In terms of average, the Roughies are second-best in the league, with 10.7 goals against per game. In their five wins, they’ve only allowed as many as 11 goals once. Mike Poulin is one of the best goalies in the league, Nick Rose is better than average as a backup, and Frankie Scigliano made his NLL debut a couple of weeks ago and allowed 5 goals in 35 minutes for a sparkling 8.56 GAA. Add in defenders and transition guys like Geoff Snider, Curtis Manning, Andrew McBride, and Mike Carnegie, and the Roughnecks don’t even need a great offense to be successful.

Overall: A+

But they do have a great offense. They don’t have the best record in the league right now, but I’d call them the best team in the league.

 

Mammoth Colorado Mammoth

Offense: A

Only Calgary has averaged more goals per game than the Mammoth’s 13.3. Of course, the fact that John Grant is playing out of his mind right now is a large part of that. Grant is not averaging 10 points per game anymore, he’s down to a measly 8.4. Grant has 59 points in 7 games – only 22 players had more than that last season. If his production for the rest of the season drops by 50%, he will still end up with more points than anyone had last year. Oh yeah, and they also have Gavin Prout, early Rookie of the Year candidate Adam Jones, and Sean Pollock who are all in the top 20 in scoring.

After that though, it drops off significantly. Jamie Lincoln has 15 points, but nobody else has more than 6. That’s the problem with having such a dominant superstar (if you can call having a player of Grant’s calibre a “problem”) – if he gets injured or hits a multi-week slump, the Mammoth are in less of a position to recover than, say, the Roughnecks.

Defense: B+

The Mammoth are fifth with 12 goals against per game. If you take out the Calgary loss, they’d be second at 10.5. They gave up 14 goals in their first game, then the numbers dropped steadily until they were down to 7 in back-to-back weeks. Then Calgary came in and blew them away. Still, that’s only one game, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Chris Levis is having his second straight great season. Imagine how good this team would be if Mac Allen wasn’t hurt.

Overall: A

It may seem weird to rank the Roughnecks higher than the Mammoth considering the Mammoth have a better record. It’s not like the Mammoth are overachieving and have beaten a bunch of weak teams – they are definitely a strong team, and if Grant stays hot and Levis continues to play well, they could have an amazing year. But I really believe the Roughnecks are better overall.

 

Rush Edmonton Rush

Offense: F

The top two scorers on the Rush are tied for 27th in the league. They have scored 10.7 goals per game, the second-worst in the league. They have less than 10 goals in 3 of their 6 games thus far, though they did score 16 against the Stealth. Shawn Williams is on pace for 64 points, his lowest total since 2000 when he only played 10 games.

Defense: A+

Wow. Just, wow. The Rush have given up an average of 10.2 goals per game, the best in the league by half a goal. Strangely, they’re even better away from Rexall Place, giving up a stingy 9.5 goals per game compared with the 11.5 at home. They’ve lost Chris Corbeil to injury, but still have Kyle Rubisch, Brett Mydske, top Money Baller Derek Suddons, Ryan Dilks, Jarrett Toll, and captain Jimmy Quinlan. There was word that the Rush were going to trade Paul Rabil to the Bandits for Jeremy Thompson or to the Knighthawks for Jordan Hall but they don’t need transition or defense. They need scoring.

Overall: C+

The Rush are the new Mammoth. Last year’s Colorado Mammoth also had a very good defense (though not this good) and a really bad offense. Of course, the Mammoth are kicking butt this year, so maybe the Rush have that to look forward to next year. Giving up Brodie Merrill for Iannucci Rabil nothing hasn’t hurt the defense at all, (how good would the defense be with Brodie?) but the offense needs help.

 

Swarm Minnesota Swarm

Offense: B+

Callum Crawford, Ryan Benesch, and Kevin Ross are leading the Swarm offense, no surprise there. But four of the next five are surprising: rookies Jordan MacIntosh, Corbyn Tao, and Jay Card along with 2nd year transition guy and captain Andrew Suitor, who has already eclipsed his 10 points from last year. The Swarm are fourth in the league in scoring, with 12.6 goals per game.

Defense: B

After the Blazers expansion draft, we thought the Swarm goalies this year might be Anthony Cosmo and Nick Patterson, a more than acceptable combo. Turns out to be neither one, and the Swarm went with rookie Tyler Carlson who has been very good and rookie Evan Kirk who has been outstanding. The Swarm are seventh with 11.6 goals against, but are improving – they’ve only given up more than 9 goals in one of their last four games. Their home goals against average is 9.5, almost two full goals better than anyone else. The defense has tended to be great in the wins (opposing scores are 11, 9, 6, and 7), but not very good at all in two of the three losses (scores of 20, 16, and 12).

Overall: B

With all the young kids, you might think this is a team that will be good in a few years, and I’m sure they will. But they’re also good right now.  The Minnesota Swarm have never won a playoff game, but they definitely have as good a shot this year as they’ve ever had.

 

Stealth Washington Stealth

Offense: F

The loss of Luke Wiles was pretty big, but not this big. The Stealth are dead last in the league, only scoring 9.3 goals per game. They’re the only team under ten, and 1.4 goals behind Edmonton. As Stephen Stamp and Ty Pilson discussed on last week’s Boxla Beat, the problem is simple: Ratcliff and Duch are just not scoring. Ratcliff has 15 goals on a league-leading 97 shots on goal – compare that to Curtis Dickson, who has 15 on only 60 shots, or John Grant, with 27 goals on 86 shots. Now Duch is injured and Jeff Zywicki is back, but that’s a wash at best. The addition of Athan Iannucci hasn’t helped much so far, but once he shakes off the rust he could make a big difference.

Defense: F

The Stealth are also dead last in this category, giving up 13 goals per game – 14 at home. They’ve given up 15 or more goals three times. Chris Seidel has played 93 minutes and leads the team with a brutal 12.26 GAA. Tyler Richards has a 77.5% save percentage, which is not bad (5th in the league). But his GAA of 12.58 is only good for twelfth among goalies – and this is a nine-team league, so three backups (including his own) are ahead of him in that category. Richards is also injured now, so unless Seidel and newcomer Matt King can stop the bleeding, things may get worse before they get better.

Overall: F

Sorry Stealth fans, but there are no two ways around it. The Stealth have sucked so far this year. Chris Hall returned to the bench for the last game, which didn’t have the impact on the team that I was expecting, but I don’t know how many of the practices and such before that game he was able to attend. Maybe once he’s running the whole show, the team will start playing like the team that went to the last two Championship games but right now, that’s certainly not how the Stealth look.

The Stealth have the same problem as the 1992 Orlando Magic, whose GM Pat Williams said “We can’t win at home. We can’t win on the road. As general manager, I just can’t figure out where else to play.

Week 9 picks

In my picks last week, I stated “If anyone can beat the Mammoth, it’s the Roughnecks, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they did” but I picked the Mammoth anyway. I also said “Could the Rush… beat the Wings? Sure they could” but I picked the Wings anyway. I got the Toronto game right and the Washington game wrong, but I could have been 3-1 on the week instead of 1-3. Sigh.

Record: 12-19 (.387)

Game

Comments

Pick

COL @ BUF I’d like to say that the three week “mid-season vacation” for the Bandits plus Cosmo would equal a victory but I can’t. I expect them to be better in the second half of the season than the first half, but not yet. Mammoth
MIN @ CAL Calgary is the team to beat in the west now that Colorado is no longer undefeated, and not just because they beat Colorado. I expect Minnesota to put up a good fight (my respect for the Swarm is growing weekly), but the Roughnecks take this one. Roughnecks
ROC @ PHI In a rematch of the season opened for these two clubs, I’m sure nobody expects the same result (a 22-12 win for the Knighthawks). Not that the Hawks can’t win this game, but it won’t be a blowout. The Knighthawks are better in Rochester than on the road (0.9 more GF, 0.1 fewer GA), but then again Philly is much better on the road than in Philly (1.8 more GF, 4.8 fewer GA). Going with the numbers. Knighthawks
WAS @ TOR Washington is last in the league in offense, last in the league in defense, and will be without Rhys Duch and Tyler Richards. The Rock lost Colin Doyle last week and a bunch of other regulars are out, but they’ve dealt with lots of injury problems this year and have done just fine, thanks. Rock

Previous weeks:

Week 1 – 0-1
Week 2 – 2-2
Week 3 – 2-2
Week 4 – 2-4
Week 5 – 2-2
Week 6 – 1-3
Week 7 – 2-2
Week 8 – 1-3