NLL Week 1

Finally, the NLL is back! In previous years, I wrote an article on each game I attended (last season, not so much) but I saved the commentary on other games and such for the Addicted to Lacrosse podcast, which I hosted for about eight years along with Tyler Fitch and Melissa Dafni. We’re not doing that anymore, so I need a place to vent talk about the goings-on in the league, so that’s here. I’ll do a wrap-up article each week, summarizing my thoughts on what happened the previous weekend.

I’m going to do this using an Awesome / Not Awesome format like we used to do on Addicted to Lacrosse. Awesome is, obviously, things that were awesome. Not awesome is everything else – not necessarily things that suck, though they’d be included, but there may also be things that happened that I’m just not sure about. In general, I try to be positive and have more awesomes than not, but I can’t guarantee that.

Awesome

Close games!

Of the seven games so far, five were one goal games and three of those went to overtime. The Thunderbirds without Cody Jamieson managed to beat the Rush, the Rock held off a late rally from the FireWolves, Philly spoiled Panther City’s first game, New York scored two in the final minute and a half to send their game to OT but the Knighthawks pulled it out of the fire, and everyone knew that San Diego was going to beat Vancouver, except Vancouver. Speaking of Vancouver…

Alex Buque

Buque had an excellent game in San Diego. He did not have a great year in 2020 with the Riptide, and I think a lot of people lost confidence in him. It’s only one game so we won’t hand him the Goaltender of the Year award just yet, but I think he regained some of that confidence on Friday.

TSN broadcasts

We got to watch live NLL action from the TSN page (in Canada, ESPN in the US), and it was free (for cable / satellite subscribers), and there were games on regular non-streaming TV. It wasn’t all awesome though, see below.

Broadcasters in San Diego

Cooper Perkins and Nick Ossello were really good doing PxP and colour respectively. I believe it was Ossello’s first-ever game as a broadcaster, and I thought he did a very good job. He’s obviously very knowledgeable about the game, but he’s also very funny on twitter and I’m glad some of that came through on the broadcast as well. It sounded like the two of them were having a lot of fun, and I think that’s crucial. That’s part of what makes Teddy Jenner and Jake Elliott so great at what they do – their love of the game is obvious in their broadcasting.

Panther City Debuts

The Panther City LC made their long-awaited debut on Saturday, losing an OT thriller to the Philadelphia Wings. Similar to the San Diego Seals a couple of years ago, they didn’t look so much like an expansion team (from what I was able to see), and it’s awesome to see a team that’s that competitive in their first year.

Faceoff guys

Jake Withers and Trevor Baptiste are two of the best in the game and it showed on Saturday. Withers went 19-27 and hit the 800 faceoff wins plateau in his 45th NLL game. Meanwhile Baptiste went an amazing 25-27 against Jeremy Thompson, who’s a pretty decent faceoff guy himself. Keeping up that pace will be next to impossible but getting anywhere close is impressive. In the Riptide / Knighthawks game, vet Jay Thorimbert was just over 50% against rookie Chris Willman. Holding your own against Thorimbert is also impressive, so good job rook.

The Rock in Hamilton

I covered this in my game report, but I wanted to mention it here as well. 8000+ loud lacrosse fans (mostly cheering for the Rock but there were a fair number of Albany fans too) in Hamilton for the Rock’s first game there was pretty awesome.

Beautiful goals

The NLL Play of the Week will be tough to decide: Dan Dawson did what Dan Dawson does, plow through defenders and then score a tough goal, but make it look easy. Scott Dominey looked like he was going to deke around Turner Evans but instead fired a behind-the-back missile by Evan Kirk. Zed Williams also shot BTB for the Mammoth and as nice a goal as that was, the long pass from Dillon Ward and the heads-up play from Joey Cupido after getting knocked over were just as nice. Ben McIntosh dove from behind the net to score on Kevin Orleman, which was pretty good, but Tom Schreiber had two of those.

Not Awesome

TSN broadcasts

I missed the first two minutes of the season but after that the feed was OK, in that it didn’t drop entirely. It did freeze for a second or two now and again (for me it was probably once or twice per minute throughout the game), which was just often enough to be annoying but not often enough to turn it off in frustration. I did miss seeing a few shots and at least one goal because of it though. I will give them a pass because it’s the first weekend with a new streaming service, but as Eric Ellis said on twitter, if we’re still seeing these issues a month from now, that will be a big problem.

TSN replays…

…don’t exist. We Canadians can’t watch games after they’re done so other than Friday’s Warriors/Seals game (which I watched live) and Saturday’s FireWolves/Rock game (which I attended), I haven’t been able to watch anything else.

NLL Stats

The game reports on NLL.com are missing some stats. First off, the player names are all “First initial last name”, so C. Dickson, M. Matthews, N. Rose, etc. This is a pain when one is maintaining one’s own database of games. I had to convince my database that the M. King who played in Calgary was Marshal and not Matt. I haven’t come up with a good way to deal with J. Noble and J. Noble yet other than “do it manually”. But more importantly, there are a number of missing stats: attendance, game length, shots (SOG are there but not all shots), time on floor, plus/minus, shots faced, and saves by quarter as well as the list of refs and healthy scratches. All of that was included in last season’s game sheets. I really hope this is a temporary glitch and will soon be fixed.

Next Week

I’m really looking forward to the Rock’s visit to Halifax on Friday. Both teams are strong all over the floor and if the Thunderbirds can hold off the rush without Cody Jamieson, they’ll be nasty if he’s able to return. Plus attending a game in Halifax has officially made my bucket list.

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