So the curtains are closed on the 2023 regular season. The Warriors, Desert Dogs, Rush, Wings, FireWolves, Swarm, and Riptide are all done for the year. The playoff curtains open next weekend for the rest, and we’re in for some pretty exciting games. Well, you are in for some exciting games. Details on that below.
The 2023 NLL season
What an amazing season this was:
- Attendance was back up, approaching (and in some cases, surpassing) pre-pandemic numbers.
- We had dominant and non-dominant teams, but there was still some “parity” there anyway – the Firewolves only won three games but they were all against division rivals who made the playoffs.
- Expansion Las Vegas didn’t have a great season but it wasn’t terrible either, and you can see the potential for growth there, not only in the team but in the city.
- Panther City and Rochester took giant leaps forward and made the playoffs.
- After a horrible start, Georgia almost did too.
- There was an outdoor game in San Diego and it was awesome.
- Jeff Teat won the first scoring title of likely many in his career, and other players like Dhane Smith and Christian Del Bianco set new records as well.
- A number of players, like Andrew Kew, Tanner Cook, Connor Fields, and Nick Damude, had career years.
Going into the last weekend of the season, Dhane Smith and Jeff Teat each had a chance to win the scoring title and with a really good game, set a new record. Both began the night with 126 points and needed 11 to tie and 12 to break Smith’s 2016 record of 137 points. In the early game, Smith scored two and picked up four assists (to set a new assists record with an incredible 96), giving him 132 points. At the time, this gave Dhane Smith third place, behind Dhane Smith (2016, 137 points) and Dhane Smith (2022, 135).
Teat’s game didn’t begin until Smith’s ended and for the fifth time this season, Teat hit double digits in points with 5+5. His five goals gave him 56 on the season, good enough to lead the league, and his ten points gave him 136, highest in the league this season and a single point back of Smith’s record.
Of course, this race didn’t get the national coverage that the Sosa / McGwire home run race did in the late 90’s, but among lacrosse fans, it was just as exciting.
The playoffs are here!
You can find the matchups all over the place, but I’ll summarize them here too.
- The Bandits will host the Knighthawks. Buffalo went 1-1 against Rochester this season.
- The Rock will host the Thunderbirds in a rematch of last year’s Eastern semi-final. Toronto won that game, and went 1-1 against Halifax this year.
- The Seals will host the defending champion Mammoth in a rematch of last year’s Western finals, which Colorado obviously won. San Diego went 2-1 against Colorado.
- The Roughnecks will host Panther City. Calgary was 2-1 against PCLC.
Maple Leafs get to the second round
I’ve been a Leafs fan more than twice as long I’ve been as a lacrosse fan, and this is the first time in 19 years they’ve won a playoff series. It’s my blog so I can list them here if I want, but if you really need a lacrosse tie-in, the obvious one is that the captain of the Maple Leafs is John Tavares.
Both awesome and not awesome
Awesome: I am going on vacation this week and will be spending the next 2 1/2 weeks in Italy. Rome, Pompeii, Florence, Cinque Terre, Lake Como, and Venice. I’ve never been to Italy, and I’m going with my wife and six friends. It is going to be amazing.
Not awesome: I will miss seeing at least one Rock home playoff game in person. It will be the first Rock home playoff game that I have not attended since 2000. I likely won’t be able to watch any playoff games at all until I get back, mainly because the games won’t start until early in the morning (7:30pm Eastern time = 1:30am Central European time). If a game in San Diego starts at 7:30 local time and goes to overtime, I might be able to see the very end if I get up early.
Also not awesome: No blog articles or twitter posts while I’m away. Then again, maybe you think that is awesome. To each his own. Also no updates to nllstats.com. I have arranged for someone to take over @NLLFactOfTheDay so there will be no interruption there.
Note that the one awesome here vastly outweighs the two not-awesomes. At least for me.
The 2023 NLL season
There were some not awesome parts of the season as well. I don’t want to gloss over them entirely so I’ll mention them, but I’m going to focus on the positive and not go into great detail about them.
- The league has a new stats provider and they’re going to be pretty great (I got access to a sort of beta site, which is where I get the numbers for nllstats.com) but the stats publicly available all season long were either incomplete or missing entirely.
- Attendance in Panther City, Albany, and New York was dismal. Albany I get because the team isn’t very good, but Panther City is. While New York wasn’t very successful on the floor, they have likely the most exciting player in the league, someone lacrosse fans should pay to go and see if given the chance.
- As always, there were injuries. Some were temporary and the players returned, like Ryan Lee and Tehoka Nanticoke. Others were more serious and ended a season, like Brett Hickey. And still others were career-threatening (or worse), like Brock Sorensen. These are always going to happen, but they still suck.
Marty Dinsdale retires
Well, it’s awesome for him and congratulations to Marty on a great career. It’s not awesome for his teammates and Rush fans. Dinsdale was one of those Stephen Keogh / Kasey Beirnes types of players – scores some very nice goals of his own, but is more known for grabbing loose balls, setting hard picks, and opening lanes for the other scorers on his team (“doing the dirty work”), and he was one of the best at it. He didn’t get the big scoring numbers or accolades that Robert Church or Mark Matthews got (his career high was 47 points in 2019), but he did get a lot of love from his teammates and the NLL media who recognized what he did and how well he did it. He played one season in Vancouver in 2022, but when he re-signed with the Rush in the off-season, many Rush players went public on how happy they were to have him back.
And yes, if you’re confused, Marty Dinsdale and Matthew Dinsdale are the same guy. I’ve never heard Marty as a short form for Matthew before. I’m sure there’s a story there.
nothing beats pointstreak.