NLL mid-season report: East division

Each team has played roughly half their games, so it’s time for mid-season report cards. Just like last year, I’ve assigned letter grades to each team’s offense and defense (which includes goaltending). The letter grades are purely subjective based partially on the stats but partially on my own impressions of the team. The letters compare roughly thus:

A 2012 Knighthawks (Champions)
B 2012  Roughnecks (Excellent regular season, faded in the playoffs)
C 2012 Wings (Just made the playoffs)
D 2012 Stealth (did not make the playoffs)
F SyracuseSmash

We’ll start with the NLL East and get to the West in a couple of days. All of the stats were as of the end of week 9.

BanditsBuffalo Bandits

Offense: C-

6th in goals scored per game. The top scorer (Shawn Williams) is 11th overall. The next-highest scorer (Aaron Wilson) is 34th. If you look at points per game (to factor out the number of games played), Williams is 12th and Tavares is 29th. Tavares missed three games which did not help though he’s back now.

Defense: C+

6th in goals allowed per game. They’ve given up 12 or more goals in seven of their nine games. When Cosmo is on, he’s still one of the best in the league, and he was certainly on in their 10-6 win against the Knighthawks. He just has to be on a little more often.

Overall: B-

How is their overall rating better than either of their offensive or defensive ratings? Well, they’ve managed to turn a below-average offense and a below-average defense into a 5-4 record.

WingsPhiladelphia Wings

Offense: F

Dead last in goals per game, averaging less than 11. They have one player in the top 20 in scoring, Crowley at #15. Only 7 players have 10 or more points after 8 games. The Kevins are doing fine, Drew Westervelt is fine, and Jordan Hall isn’t quite up to his New York Titans numbers, but is on pace to blow away his Rochester numbers. Paul Rabil has been disappointing from a scoring standpoint, especially since he’s been on offense more than transition. Brodie Merrill is about where he was last year, and nobody else is scoring at all. They’ll be happy to get Brendan Mundorf back.

Defense: B-

5th in goals allowed per game. Brandon Miller had three pretty crappy games where he allowed 14, 16, and 20 goals, but has been good or really good in the five wins.

Overall: B-

The Wings have impressed me more than I thought they would this year. I predicted them to be the one team out of the playoffs, but it’s looking less and less like that’s the case. They’re still not a Championship team in my opinion, but they’re closer than I expected.

KnighthawksRochester Knighthawks

Offense: D-

Tied for seventh in goals per game. How bad is the Knighthawks offense? Dan Dawson is on pace for his worst season since 2003, about 15 points worse than any season since 2004 – and he’s second on the team. (That’s not really a fair statement though, since a crappy Dan Dawson season is still better than most.) Jamieson is top 10 in both points and points per game, so no problem there. Dawson is tied for 18th in points per game. Casey Powell is in 35th and has missed two games. Johnny Powless is on pace for 35 points, after scoring 50 last year. Stephen Keogh is on pace for 38, after 59 last year. The only reason this isn’t an F is because they put up 35 goals in two games (in two days) in early February, so they can score. They’re just not.

Defense: A

The defense has been as good as the offense has been bad. The Knighthawks are first in goals allowed per game, allowing a measly 10.2. They’ve given up more than 10 goals once in their last six games, and yet they’ve lost two of them. The Knighthawks may have 99 problems, but Matt Vinc ain’t one.

Overall: D

If they’re trying to channel the 2012 Stealth (first to last in one year), they’re doing a good job. But there are better teams to emulate – like the 2012 Knighthawks. It’s looking like adding Powell and Dawson did have an effect on team chemistry. Strangely, the person I expected it to affect most, Cody Jamieson, seems unaffected and is on pace for 80 points.

RockToronto Rock

Offense: B+

Third in goals scored per game, and they have scored less than 10 goals only once. Two of the top six scorers are Rock players. Colin Doyle is on pace for 84 points which would be his highest point total in three years. Billings is on pace for 105 points. Blaine Manning’s numbers are way down (he’s on pace for less than half of his worst non-injury season), but his role has changed. He’s not one of the top scorers anymore, he’s one of the guys that “bangs bodies” and makes space for Doyle and Billings and Josh. He even played one game coming out the back door.

Defense: A

Second in goals allowed per game. Have only allowed as many as 13 goals twice, and one of those was in OT. Nick Rose is third among starters in both GAA and save %. Jesse Gamble has become one of the best transition players in the league. Young goalie, young transition, veteran D – seems to be a good combination.

Overall: A-

Most consistent team so far this year. Great goaltending and defense, the best transition game the Rock have seen for years, and plenty of offense, though by only a few players. A little more scoring from Evans and Manning and maybe a couple more decisive wins (7 of their 9 games have been decided by 1 or 2 goals) and this would be an A+.


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