Pre-season predictions revisited

As I always do at the end of the season, it’s time to look at my predictions from the beginning of the season and see how far off I was. Since the actual award winners won’t be announced until the end of August (?!?!) I obviously can’t include those, but I’ll include who I think should win.

Final Standings

East

Prediction Actual
Rochester Rochester
Toronto Toronto
Buffalo Buffalo
Minnesota Philadelphia
Philadelphia Minnesota

3 correct out of 5. Philly did a little better than I expected and Minnesota did far worse.

West

Prediction Actual
Calgary Edmonton
Vancouver Calgary
Edmonton Colorado
Colorado Vancouver

0 correct out of 5. Obviously Edmonton was much better than I thought and Vancouver much worse.

Individual Awards

MVP

Prediction: Garrett Billings. Short list: Cody Jamieson, Mark Matthews

My Choice: Cody Jamieson. On episode 17 of Addicted to Lacrosse, I picked Billings as MVP, but I’m rethinking that decision now. The Rock went 3-0 down the stretch without Billings, so it’s hard to argue that he’s more valuable to the team than anyone else is to their team. That said, nobody stands out as having been head and shoulders above anyone else. I’m going with Jamieson because he’s not only the top scorer on the team and in the league, but because he’s been the face and de facto leader of the Knighthawks since coming into the league.

 

Goaltender of the Year

Prediction: Matt Vinc. Short list: Tyler Richards, Aaron Bold

My Choice: Aaron Bold. Lowest-ever GAA, 15 wins, 3rd best save % in the league. Made almost 200 fewer saves than Anthony Cosmo, but faced almost 240 fewer shots. That’s how good Edmonton’s defense was this year.

 

Defensive Player of the Year

Prediction: Kyle Rubisch. Short list: Mike Grimes, Rory Smith

My Choice: Kyle Rubisch. You could also make arguments for Rubisch’s teammates Brett Mydske and Chris Corbeil.

 

Transition Player of the Year

Prediction: Geoff Snider. Short list: Jesse Gamble, Brad Self

My Choice: Jeremy Thompson. I’ve talked about Thompson many times before. There’s seemingly nothing he can’t do – he can score, play defense, take faceoffs, fight, and run like the wind. And he has a cool tattoo on his back and ponytail and he’s a movie star. You could make an argument for Corbeil here too.

 

Rookie of the Year

Prediction: Robert Church. Short list: Logan Schuss, Jason Noble, Cody Bremner, Karsen Leung

My Choice: Tough one. Church, Schuss, Tyler Digby, Dillon Ward, and Leung have all had very good rookie seasons, but I think I’m going to go with Schuss with Dillon Ward as a strong #2. Ward gave the Mammoth the reliable goaltender they haven’t had since the Gee Nash days.

 

Les Bartley (Coach of the Year)

Prediction: Chris Hall. Short list: Troy Cordingley, Derek Keenan

My Choice: Derek Keenan. Half-way through the season I was wondering how to pick between Keenan and Cordingley but the last half of the season made that decision a little easier.

 

GM of the Year

Prediction: Steve Dietrich. Short list: Doug Locker

My Choice: Derek Keenan, partially because of the players he picked up at the draft (Church, Loewen, Sorichetti all played big roles this year), and partially because of the moves he’s made over the last couple of years. Keenan has turned the worst team in the league to one of the best the league has ever seen.

 

Just realized that other than MVP, every one of my choices was for Edmonton.

 

“Watch Out For…”

In each of my team previews, I added a “Watch out for” section for a player that I thought would have a great year. I was even right on a couple.

Rochester: Joe Walters. I said he “could emerge as their #3 scorer”. Ended up as #5 but his 41 points eclipsed his 33 from last year.

Philadelphia: Kevin Crowley. 71 points in his first season, 72 in his second, 75 this year. The Wings don’t really have a team leader, and I though maybe Crowley would make an effort to pick up the unofficial title, like Jamieson has done with the Knighthawks, but he didn’t even lead his team in scoring.

Buffalo: Ryan Benesch. Not one of Benny’s best seasons but not much different from the numbers he was putting up in Minnesota. Of course, you’d expect a 12.5% increase in points since there were 12.5% more games, but that didn’t seem to be true for most players.

Toronto: Kyle Belton. Sort of right. He had a good season and was traded for Brandon Miller.

Minnesota: Kiel Matisz. Totally missed this one. Matisz fell from 63 points in his rookie season to only 36 in 2014. Goals dropped by 7 but assists dropped by 20. Maybe he was used more as a transition guy than offense and so his numbers dropped, or maybe it was just that the Swarm couldn’t score so there were fewer assists to be had.

Edmonton: Curtis Knight. Nailed this one. Jumped from 46 to 72 points, second on the Rush and there were a number of times that I felt he was more the quarterback of their offense than Matthews was.

Colorado: Sean Pollock. 51 points, exactly the same as last year. Not a superstar but definitely one of the important parts of the Mammoth offense.

Calgary: Curtis Dickson. He had 3.88 points per game last year, and bumped that to an even 4. Nominal increase but not the big jump I thought we might see. Still a pure goal-scorer; Dickson has never had more assists than goals in a season.

Vancouver: Lewis Ratcliff. Yeah, not so much. After a mid-season benching, Ratcliff came back with a vengeance, picking up 6 and 8 points in his next two games. But then he averaged just over 2 points over the last 5. His 55 points were the lowest of his career since his debut season with the Roughnecks in 2003.

Week 18 picks

Can you believe it’s already the last week of the regular season? The Rush won’t have a perfect season and they’ve already set the NLL record for wins in a season with 15, but while everyone’s been focused on the Rush, Rochester has quietly picked up 13 wins themselves. At the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota has 13 losses with one game left, while Vancouver has 12 losses and 2 games left. Both teams could hit 14 losses, though that wouldn’t be the record. Both the 2004 Anaheim Storm and the 2006 Edmonton Rush went 1-15. Not pointing any fingers here, but Cam Bergman and Teddy Jenner were members of both of those teams.

Record: 53-23 (.697)

Game
Comments
Pick
VAN @ EDM If Vancouver plays like they can play, they could give Edmonton some trouble. But if they play like they have been playing most of this season, it won’t even be close. Rush4
ROC @ BUF Buffalo is bound to end their losing streak at some point, and they are playing for home floor advantage in the first round, but the Knighthawks are just too strong. Knighthawks5
COL @ PHI Philly is out and so has nothing to play for but pride. I’m sure they’d like to put on a good show for their fans but the playoff-bound Mammoth are getting ready to take on the Roughnecks. Mammoth4
TOR @ MIN The Rock have a 3 game-winning streak going, and both Brandon Miller and Nick Rose have played very well in the last few games. The Swarm have only beaten two teams this year and the Rock ain’t one of them. It’s hard to pick the upset in this case. Rock5
CAL @ VAN Sorry Stealth fans, I think you’re going 0-2 this weekend. If that happens, it’ll be the Stealth’s second 5-game losing streak of the season. Roughnecks

Week 17 picks

I went 3-2 last week, missing Colorado going where no team had gone before, and Minnesota’s upset of Buffalo (though I did say “I can see an upset here”). I have broken the magical barrier of 50 correct picks out of 71, and now I’m going for 60 out of 81. I’m still ahead of everyone in the IL Indoor crew, though Bob Chavez is only one game behind me. The worst I can finish is 50-31, almost twenty games above .500. Trust me, nobody is more stunned by that than I am. Well, maybe one person.

Record: 50-21 (.712)

Game
Comments
Pick
BUF @ TOR Might be a homer pick again, but the Rock played well without Billings last weekend, and the thought of jumping over the Bandits for second place (not that this one win would do that) is probably quite alluring. Then again, the Bandits are desperate to avoid another six-game losing streak. Rock
BUF @ ROC If this was the Bandits from the first half of the season, this would be a tough call. But the Bandits from the second half of the season are quite a different team. Read an article saying that the Bandits have been hit by a “flu bug” so that won’t help them either. Knighthawks
COL @ MIN Colorado is in the playoffs if they win or if Vancouver loses, but I imagine the Mammoth want to get in themselves. Minnesota has nothing to play for since they’re already out, so they might be in “let the young kids get some playing time” mode. Mammoth
CAL @ EDM Edmonton’s had their way with Calgary this year (winning all 3 games by a combined score of 45-26). The Rush face the Stealth next week so I see them going 17-1. Rush
PHI @ VAN The Stealth have a chance at the playoffs but it’s pretty faint. But if they don’t play their hearts out trying to make the most of that chance, then they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs anyway. Stealth

Week 16 picks

5-1 last week, only missing the one game I hoped to get wrong, the Rock’s defeat of the Stealth. There are only 15 games left this year, so the worst I can finish is 47-34. Then again, I could also finish at 62-19. That might be optimistic though.

Record: 47-19 (.712)

Game
Comments
Pick
EDM @ COL If the mighty Roughnecks and Knighthawks couldn’t take the Rush down, I can’t see the Mammoth doing it. Then again, the Rush only beat the Mammoth by one last week and have already clinched everything they can clinch in the regular season. The Mammoth are at home and are still in a playoff race. But I’m still picking Edmonton. Rush
PHI @ TOR Homer pick? Perhaps but the Rock played a really good game last week, missing Garrett Billings for more than half of it. The question is whether they can adapt their offence for a full game without him. Will they ride Brandon Miller while he’s playing well, or go back to Nick Rose? Rock
VAN @ ROC Which Stealth team shows up? If it’s the one from last week, the Knighthawks should have no problem with them. If it’s not, and we end up with a good ol’ fashioned Vinc vs. Richards matchup, it’ll be a great game. Knighthawks
BUF @ MIN I imagine the Bandits are angry with their performance last weekend. Any time you get compared with a team that missed the playoffs (the 2013 Bandits), you need to step your game up and I think Troy will get that out of his team this weekend. That said, the Swarm have been playing pretty well over the last few weeks but still have managed to be on the losing end of most of them. I can see an upset here. Bandits
EDM @ CAL The Rush have had their way with the Roughnecks this season, beating them 15-8 and 15-7. Even if they lose to the Mammoth, I think the Rush will take this one. Rush43338

The Homer

Every group of fans has its homers. You know the ones. If someone on their team hits a player on the other team, that’s gritty, hard-hitting lacrosse. It’s a rough game. If you don’t want hitting, go watch figure skating. But if a player on their team gets hit, that’s a cheap shot.

Every goal against their team is a lucky shot while every goal they score was a brilliant play.

Every penalty against the other team was well deserved. That player crossed the line and has to pay for it. Every penalty against their team is a stupid ticky-tack call and the refs shouldn’t be so literal in their interpretation of the rule book. Just let ’em play.

It’s annoying, but I can deal with homer-ism when it’s a fan. But not when it’s an announcer.

Every team has its home announcers and they don’t try to be completely balanced in their calls. If their team scores, they get loud and excited. If the other team scores, it’s announced with somewhat more subdued tones. If their team scores in overtime, they sound like they just won the Championship. If the other team scores in overtime, the disappointment is sometimes quite evident. I totally get this, and this is not what I’m talking about. They’re excited for the team they work (and likely cheer) for, and I don’t have a huge problem with this or expect anything different.

What I don’t like is when the announcers forget that they’re not just chatting with friends. I don’t expect completely unbiased opinions, but they have to make some sort of effort to be relatively unbiased, don’t they?

In a recent game in Vancouver, Shawn Evans was cross-checked and dropped to the floor. Play was immediately stopped and a Stealth player penalized. The announcer immediately claimed that it was a dive and no penalty should be given. I’m not convinced that it was a dive, but I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t. In my opinion, it wasn’t a blatant dive. Obviously in his opinion it was. At the time I thought that the announcer should have kept his opinion to himself because the player was on the opposing team. If it had been a Stealth player, I imagine he would have kept that opinion to himself. But in retrospect, perhaps I overreacted.

If I’m at a Rock game and I see an opposing player commit some infraction that doesn’t get called, I get angry about it and may question the visual acuity of the officials. But if I see a Rock player do the same thing, I’m not going to scream and yell about the unfairness. I might say quietly to the person beside me “Wow, we got away with one there”. I keep waffling on whether announcers should be afforded that luxury as well. As long as they really do call the games honestly and not with the my-team-coloured glasses on, I think it’s generally fine. Sometimes the players on the other team do dive and the announcers should be able to express that opinion.

But all that being said, sometimes the announcers cross the line from giving a bit of a biased opinion to complete homer-ism.

During a Rock / Knighthawks game earlier this season, Chris Driscoll, who I was a huge fan of during his time with the Rock, made a number of comments that rubbed me the wrong way. The one I specifically remember happened at the 41:50 mark. Damon Edwards scored a very nice transition goal but instead of saying it was a nice goal, Driscoll actually said “It’s one of those things that… it’s unfortunate that stuff like that happens.” He then said it was a nice pass by Gamble but that “it’s unfortunate that [Vinc] didn’t make the save”. Maybe as a Rock fan I was being overly sensitive but that didn’t sound like the kind of thing we should be hearing on the broadcast. Perhaps “it’s unfortunate for the Knighthawks that he didn’t make the save”, but don’t talk like it’s simply unfortunate in general.

But the best one came from the Mammoth announcer at the end of their loss to the Bandits back in January. Shortly before the game ended*, he said that the loss was puzzling or surprising or something because “Colorado has the most talented roster in the NLL”. Do they have some talented players? Absolutely, including John Grant, one of greatest of all time, as well as Westervelt, Jones, Powell (who had yet to play for them at the time), Snider, Dalgarno, and others. There’s talent there, no question. But the most talented roster in the league? That’s a claim that would be difficult for any team to defend. But when your team is 1-5, as the Mammoth were at the time, and just lost by 7, it’s a huge stretch. It sounds just like the kind of thing that someone might say when they’re familiar with their own team and not with any other.

* – I was unable to find this on the video.

On a recent Addicted to Lacrosse episode, Melissa mentioned that she was watching a game in Edmonton (I believe) and at one point she had to check where the game was located because after listening to the announcers all night, she couldn’t tell. In my opinion, this is doing it right. In the days when a broadcast was completely local, the whole homer-as-announcer thing was commonplace. Say you’re the Detroit Turbos announcer, and the game is only broadcast in the Detroit area. In that case, go ahead, be as pro-Detroit as you want. Just about everyone listening is likely to be a Detroit fan. But in this era of live broadcasts around the world as well as YouTube archives of every game, a good portion of your audience (I’d say far more than half) is going to consist of people who are not fans of the home team. They don’t want to hear “rah rah home team!” announcers. They don’t want to hear “Oh, the visiting team scored. That’s too bad.”  They want to hear more unbiased (or perhaps minimally-biased) analysis of both sides. At least, I do.

What do you think? Should the announcers be completely unbiased? Or should they be able to speak their mind, regardless of how one-sided it might be?

Week 15 picks

I went 3-2 last week, missing the Vancouver defeat of the Bandits and Philly’s win over Colorado. This week I see Calgary and Rochester each going 2-0.

Record: 42-18 (.700)

Game
Comments
Pick
CAL @PHI I think Philly is a better team than their record indicates. But I think Calgary is still a better team. Roughnecks53
ROC @MIN First place team in the east against the last place team in the east. We could have an upset, and if there is one it’s probably this one in Minnesota as opposed to the next one in Rochester, but I still have to go with the champs. Knighthawks
CAL @ BUF Buffalo started the year really impressing me but not so much in the last few games. They looked like the 2013 Bandits last week – shaky offense and undisciplined. If they pull themselves together, this could be a great game. Roughnecks53
MIN @ ROC As above. Knighthawks
COL @ EDM Can’t bet against the Rush at this point. Rush43338
TOR @ VAN The Stealth looked pretty good last weekend against the Bandits, or was it the Bandits that didn’t look so good? Lewis Ratcliff didn’t like being a healthy scratch and has been playing well since his return. The Rock have been good for 30 minutes and not-so-good for 30 minutes in each of the last few games. Stealth

Help wanted!

I bought this NLL jersey on eBay last week:

IMAG1143

 

It’s obviously from the All-Star game in Portland in 2007, and it’s been signed by no less than eighteen NLL players. (At least, I’m assuming they’re NLL players.) Problem is, I can’t read most of them. Can you help? If you recognize any of them, please let me know in the comments!

If it helps, the players who played in the 2007 All-Star game are listed here.

 


sig1

First name could be Ryan. Ward, Cousins, Boyle, and Powell were all on the 2007 All-Star teams. Roy Colsey wasn’t but his last season was 2007.


sig2


sig3


sig4


sig5


sig6

Going out on a limb here. Gonna say Dallas Eliuk.


sig7

John Grant? Just going by the #24 here.


sig8


sig9

Kaleb Toth?


sig10

Kinda looks like Buck Martinez but I doubt it.


sig11

Peter Morgan?


sig12

Another John Grant?


sig13


sig14

Casey Powell?


sig15


sig16

Kind of looks like a heart-shaped balloon (more obvious in the picture above), which would seem odd for a lacrosse player’s signature.


sig17


sig18