2014 preview: Edmonton Rush

Rush

The 2012 Rush had a sub-.500 regular season but caught fire in the playoffs, making it to their first-ever Championship game. Their 2013 regular season was better – only their second .500 or better season in their eight seasons – but they couldn’t quite match the playoff success from the previous year. But the Rush have shown themselves to be a strong team that nobody takes for granted anymore… except maybe Calgary. During the regular season, anyway. With another strong draft, there’s no reason to think the Rush can’t contend in 2014.

2013 season summary

Record 9-7, tied for 1st in West (seeded 3rd)
Home 2-6
Away 7-1
Goals for 203
Goals against 170
Top scorer Ryan Ward (75)
Playoffs Division semi-finals: Lost to Washington 12-11

Roster changes

In October, captain Jimmy Quinlan announced his retirement. This is a big loss for the Rush. Obviously Quinlan has been a strong player, on offense for a few years (including two 50+ point seasons) and more defensive for the last four, but he’ll be missed for much more than his on-field contributions. Hometown boy Quinlan was one of the first players acquired by the Rush as a new franchise, and he’s been the heart and soul of the Rush for the entire history of the franchise – he is to the Rush what Kaleb Toth was to the Roughnecks. Quinlan only missed one game over his eight seasons in Edmonton. But the former captain will remain with the team in a different capacity. Former defensive coach Devan Wray has retired due to family commitments, and so Quinlan will take over the role of defensive coach.

Only two teams scored more goals last year than the Rush. But this off-season, they lost a fair number of those. Ryan Ward was an unrestricted free agent and chose to sign with the Philadelphia Wings, so his 75 points are gone. Corey Small tore his ACL during the WLA playoffs, so his 64 points are gone. Between them, Ward and Small scored 49 of the Rush’s 203 goals, or 24%. Mark Matthews was one of the most successful rookies in recent years, and he scored about 20% of the Rush’s goals in his rookie season. So counting on rookies not named Matthews to make up that 24% seems a bit optimistic. The addition of righty forward Robert Church should help (and might help quite a bit – I’ve already seen tweets predicting that he’ll be the Rookie of the Year), but that’s a lot of ground to make up.

Also missing from last year’s Rush are Alex Turner and Jarrett Toll.

Burning question

A few years ago, I thought the Roughnecks were in deep offensive trouble because they lost both Josh Sanderson and Tracey Kelusky. What happened? The likes of Scott Ranger, Jeff Shattler, Dane Dobbie, and some kid named Curtis Dickson all stepped up and produced one of the top offenses in the league (and then they got Shawn Evans). Expecting that level of success from the Rush after the loss of Ward and Small is really optimistic, but can Matthews and Church save the Rush offense?

Look out for

Curtis Knight. After a better-than-decent 46 points in his rookie season, he’s not going to be eclipsing Mark Matthews but could he be the second top scorer on the Rush this year? Sure he could.

Prediction

Third in the west.

Haiku

Ward off to Philly
Jim Quinlan behind the bench
Church and Matthews score

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One thought on “2014 preview: Edmonton Rush

  1. Pingback: 2014 NLL Predictions | NLL Chatter

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