Lots of games again this week but this time, no problems watching them. Lots of awesomeness throughout the weekend, and only a couple of minor not-awesomes.
Lyle Thompson goes behind the back
…but not the way you think. Thompson can shoot and pass behind the back with the best of them (seeing as he basically is the best of them), but this play was different. With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter of Georgia’s game with Albany on Friday night, Thompson had the ball near the crease but was… uh… swarmed by defenders and couldn’t get a shot off. So he passed his stick, with the ball still in it, behind his own back from his left hand to his right, then shot it. He missed the net which is too bad because if he’d scored, that play would be on highlight shows everywhere. It was an amazing play nonetheless. As the announcer said, “there is one player in the world who would try that in that situation”.
The Lacrosse Matrix podcast
Adam Levi has published the first episode of a new podcast called the Lacrosse Matrix. This show will be focused on stats, so it obviously appeals to me, but as part of each show Adam’s going to be interviewing players, coaches, broadcasters, etc. to help get different viewpoints and “frame” the stats to help give them more meaning. The first episode is about Colorado’s Ryan Lee, and Adam talks about Lee’s stats this year and in previous years, but also talks to Lee, Mammoth coach Pat Coyle, and play-by-play guy Teddy Jenner. Highly recommended – I’ll be listening every week.
Rock D and Nick Rose
At one point late in the second quarter of Saturday’s game in Philadelphia, one of the announcers said that the game has been close so far and he expects that to continue. I’m sure most people watching the game agreed. But the Wings never scored again. The Rock D was solid and prevented the Wings offense from getting inside, and Nick Rose was excellent facing the shots that made it through. If you can keep Rambo, Riorden, Small, Matisz, MacIntosh, Crowley, and Hickey from scoring for over thirty minutes, you are doing a lot of things right.
One slightly not-awesome part of that was that one of the broadcasters said that Rose is hard to score on because he’s a big guy and fills the net. He didn’t say that’s the only reason for Rose’s success, but implied it. While it’s true that Rose is a big guy, he’s more athletic and quick that you might think. At this level, just being a big guy isn’t enough to be a great goalie.
I thought Zach Higgins played very well for the most part, though he had a couple of “breakdowns” where he suddenly wasn’t making the stops he needed to and got pulled. Eric Penney came in and also played very well.
I complained last week because I couldn’t watch some of the games on the TSN web site. I was able to watch them on the mobile app but the website was broken. That was fixed this week, and while watching one game I realized that other than last week’s outage and some issues the week before, the streaming performance this season has been excellent. The vast majority of games I’ve watched (and I watch a lot) have had no drops at all, very few or no buffering issues, and no little spinning circles. A few have had temporary drops in video quality but a lot of them have been top quality feeds the entire game. Confirmation bias is at play here: you ignore the games you watched from beginning to end with no problems, but the feed fails twice in three weeks and you scream about how terrible the service is. I’m as guilty of that as anyone else, so I wanted to give a shoutout to the TSN folks here. This past weekend was flawless for me.
Speaking of TSN, a new feature they have during NLL games this year is Maki Jenner’s Lax Facts. It’s a short segment where Maki talks a little about some interesting aspect of the NLL. This week she talked about players with jobs outside of lacrosse. Maki is relatively new to the broadcasting biz but she handles it like a pro and is very comfortable in front of the camera. She comes by her love of lacrosse honestly; her father Fred played four seasons in the NLL and her uncle Teddy played six seasons and has been one of the most well-respected lacrosse broadcasters for years. A picture of Teddy even made a cameo appearance in this week’s segment. I expect we’ll see a lot more of Maki’s excellent work in the coming years.
There were a couple of plays I saw this weekend that didn’t change the direction of any game, and might not have led to anything at all. But they were nice plays anyway so I wanted to give them a mention:
- During a 5-minute power play, Halifax’s Clarke Petterson played both O and D for several shifts in a row. I don’t think he left the floor for at least 2½ minutes.
- Jeff Teat ran back on defense after a turnover and when the Halifax defender stopped running, Teat hit his stick, knocking the ball loose, scooped it up, and ran back up the floor. It was a perfect stick check and looked effortless. Of course, it takes a lot of effort to make something look that effortless. Teat is obviously known for his offensive skill but this was a very nice defensive play. Give that man a CTO and an LB.
- Two hidden ball tricks: in the Albany/Georgia game, two Albany forwards tried it and managed to fool everyone but one defender, who pointed at the guy with the ball but was obviously not vocal enough about it. Unfortunately for the FireWolves, the forward who actually had the ball missed the open net with the shot. And then in the Toronto/Philly game, two Rock forwards tried it as well and totally hooked the cameraman who followed the wrong guy around, but none of the defenders or the goalie were fooled.
During the Rock / Wings game, Scott Gabrielson, former Wings captain and current analyst, mentioned the Toronto D a couple of times (they were good – see above). At least twice, he said the defense in general was playing well, and then listed a few players specifically. The first time he did this I raised an eyebrow because he listed de Snoo and Hostrawser but not Kri, and I think Brad Kri is probably the team’s best defender. OK, maybe Gabrielson disagrees, or he thought that Kri wasn’t playing quite as well on this night. He’s a former player and obviously knows the game, so we’ll give him that. I also have to admit that someone disagreeing with me does not make them wrong.
The next time he did it, he said something like “All the Rock defenders are playing well: Brad Kri, Billy Hostrawser, Troy Holowchuk…” He even said Holowchuk twice because he mispronounced it the first time. Obviously Gabrielson was not listing players he thought were playing well, he was just reading them from a list. Troy Holowchuk is the Rock’s third string goalie. Not only did Holowchuk not play in this game, he’s not currently on the active roster. He may not have even been in Philadelphia. Generally I think Gabrielson does a good job on the broadcasts, but this was just lazy.
Lazy camera work
In the second quarter of the Albany / Georgia game, some weird stuff led to a Ryan Benesch penalty shot. This followed a goal challenge which took a little while, during which the announcers started talking about something else. That’s fine – as an announcer, you need to fill time when there’s nothing happening. But once the goal challenge result was announced and the FireWolves were awarded a penalty shot, they didn’t stop their conversation, and didn’t notice there was a penalty shot until it was happening. But the worst part was that the cameraman didn’t bother following Benesch down the floor, so we didn’t see the goal at all. Dude, you have one job.