The 2023 NLL schedule has been announced. I’m sure there are fans of every team screaming about how unfair it is to their team in particular, because there always are. But honestly, it’s really pretty good for most teams. Only one team plays back-to-back games twice, and one of those is a weekend with two home games. Going for weeks without playing is always a problem but it’s fairly even – ten of the fifteen teams go at least 21 days without a game, but nobody goes more than 22 days.
There is one part of the schedule I’m not crazy about, so we’ll lead with that.
A few days ago, I posted my summary of the off-season moves, beginning with the new commissioner and CBA, last year’s award winners, and the new Las Vegas team finally beginning to fill out their roster. Today we’re going to get into the player changes we’ll see on the floor this winter. Rather than evaluate each transaction separately, let’s look at each team and what changes they’ve made so far. This will be similar to the “Who’s in, who’s out” article I do every year summarizing each team’s roster changes, but is obviously incomplete and subject to change. Continue reading →
Man, you take one little summer off from writing about lacrosse and what happens? THINGS. Things happen. Lots of things.
We have new winners for NLL awards, we have a new team that has players now, we have a new commissioner, we have a new CBA, we have trades, we have free agent signings, we have retirements, and we have coaching changes. And we still have over three months until the season actually begins!
There have been enough off-season changes that I’ve broken this article into two parts. Let’s get started.
The division finals are set: the Bandits will host the Rock beginning next Sunday, and the Seals host the Mammoth with game 1 on Friday night. We had four excellent games to start the 2022 NLL playoffs, and the matchups for the second round should be just as good. The Rock took two of three from the Bandits during the regular season, while the Seals took two of three from the Mammoth.
Friday night featured the first game of the 2022 NLL playoffs and if you don’t think playoff lacrosse is just a little more intense than the regular season, I urge you to check out Halifax’s visit to Toronto Hamilton. Actually Colorado’s visit to Calgary was pretty intense as well, but I’m just talking about the T-Birds/Rock game here. As the second seed in the East and the home team, the Rock were the favourites but in a one-game winner-take-all showdown, we know anything can happen. Both teams have a ton of firepower up front, solid defense and transition, great goaltending, a proven leader as their captain, and are well-coached. We all knew this was going to be a fantastic game.
A number of player single-season records were broken this season, and a few players and teams came close. Here is a list of the new player records (in bold), and teams and players that are now in the top ten in some category. Categories I looked at were:
For non-goalies, goals, assists, points, loose balls, face-offs (wins, attempts, percentage), CTOs, goals/game, assists/game, and points/game.
For goalies, GAA, saves, minutes, wins, and save %. Yes, someone entered the top 10 in losses in a season but let’s focus on the positive.
Teams: wins, total goals, goals allowed, and goal differential.
The playoff picture in the West is almost complete, as Calgary has clinched their spot while Vancouver is out. Only one spot remains in the West, but the battle in the East will take that down to the wire. Right now, the Thunderbirds and Swarm would join the Bandits and Rock in the playoffs, and the FireWolves would take the fourth spot in the West. But Halifax, Georgia, Albany, and Philly are still close enough that any of them may or may not make it, and if Panther City wins their last two games, they could take that fourth position in the West as well.
Toronto’s final home game of the year saw the Halifax Thunderbirds in town to help celebrate Indigenous Heritage Night. I’ve given some more details on that in my Weekly Report so I won’t repeat it all here but it was a great night and the specially-designed Rock jerseys were absolutely beautiful. The game itself was entertaining as well though I’m a little surprised at how much the Thunderbirds don’t look like the team that started the season 8-1.
The playoff picture is a little more set, with both Colorado and San Diego clinching post-season spots. I have been unable to come up with a scenario where Halifax misses the playoffs, but neither the team nor the NLL has announced that they’ve clinched a spot, so I assume there’s at least one way it could happen.
It’s interesting that right at the end of the season, a few teams that have looked very strong (or in the case of the Bandits, borderline unbeatable) most of the season, Buffalo, Halifax, and San Diego, have started to look vulnerable. Buffalo has lost two straight, San Diego four, and Halifax are 1-5 in their last six. Continue reading →