As we move into the Week 8 power rankings, there are some tiers starting to take shape. There’s a clear group at the top, and a fairly clear group at the bottom. But from about number seven through about number 12, it’s an amorphous mess. Anyone could beat anyone, or lose to anyone, and throw that echelon of the rankings into disarray.
For fans, this is a good thing. The top eight teams make the playoffs now, and based on how these teams are starting to separate, that could come down to a group of maybe six teams playing for the last 2-3 spots. The playoffs are a long way away, but the race is starting to take shape.
15 Vancouver Warriors (1-4)
Vancouver got blown out by Calgary this week, and now sit at the bottom of the standings. The win over Georgia feels like it was ages ago. The Warriors were a bit all over the map, swapping goaltenders multiple times in their game and unable to put anything by Christian Del Bianco. They have lost three straight and right now, if you put Vancouver on the floor against anyone else in the league, I’m picking against Vancouver.
14 New York Riptide (1-4)
New York had a great performance against Philly, and early on against Panther City it looked like they were picking up where they left off. Jeff Teat was great, and put a show going goal for goal with Jonathan Donville early. Connor Kearnan remains an underappreciated talent. New York had a great look at net to tie the game at the end of the first half, but got robbed by Nick Damude, and all momentum sort of died there. PCLC had a 4-0 run in the third, and a 3-0 run to start the 4th. New York scored three goals in under a minute late, but couldn’t close all the way back. They travel to Buffalo this week.
13 Colorado Mammoth (1-4)
It’s difficult to believe a team that won the title two years ago and took the Bandits to game three of the finals last year is at the bottom of the rankings. But there’s nothing else to do with them at this point. The Mammoth lost to San Diego, at home, and it was the Seals second game in two days. The game wasn’t particularly close. Colorado now is at 1-4, with an OT win over the last ranked Warriors as their lone victory. The schedule has been hard, but if you keep losing, you fall in the rankings. I try to give minimal credit for losing to good teams, because it’s still losing. It’s not getting any easier, they have to play a hot Calgary team this week.
12 Saskatchewan Rush (1-3)
Accidentally idle this week due to extreme weather. The Rush will host Vancouver this weekend.
11 Las Vegas Desert Dogs (2-3)
Vegas hosted San Diego on Wayne Gretzky Night in the Joe Tsai Bowl. Against all odds, that entire sentence makes sense. Vegas held the high powered to Seals to just three goals well into the third quarter, and eight goals on the night. It was a few late goals away from really being an ugly one San Diego. Jack Hannah was sensational, scoring a natural hat trick in the 2nd quarter. The young stars make this team a regular to be an underdog, but dangerous, every time on the floor. Vegas hosts PCLC this weekend.
10 Panther City Lacrosse Club (2-3)
PCLC went to New York and got a road win with the usual suspects delivering big. The Riptide gave Callum Crawford a nice video tribute in arena, and Crawford said thank you by scoring five points on the night to lead Panther City. Jonathan Donville had a 1st quarter hat trick. Nick Damude made a dazzling save in the closing seconds of the first half on Jeff Teat, and carried that into the third quarter where he really shut the door. PCLC travels to Vegas this weekend.
9 Philadelphia Wings (2-3)
Accidentally idle this week due to extreme weather. Philly is back on the floor on January 27 against San Diego at home.
8 Halifax Thunderbirds (2-3)
Three straight losses for Halifax and a date with Rochester on the horizon. The three losses are by a combined five goals. The Birds had a 4th quarter lead in two of those three games (against Albany and Philly). With the veterans on this roster, it’s surprising to see them drop games late. They battled back mightily against Toronto and were within a goal, but couldn’t finish the comeback. Halifax finds itself middle of the road somehow.
7 Calgary Roughnecks (2-2)
Calgary has relished the opportunity to build some confidence lately. They started the year with two close losses, to Rochester and San Diego, but thoroughly thrashed Vegas and Vancouver to get their mojo back a bit. Jesse King is must see TV. Calgary gets to keep the good vibes going as they head to Colorado to play a spiraling Mammoth team.
6 San Diego Seals (3-2)
What to make of the Seals? This weekend, as written in Takeaways, they sort of played their games in reverse. Two games in two days, you’d think the second game would be the one where they looked out of sorts. But it was the first game, where they just couldn’t score on Vegas. The second game, against Colorado, was a much more thorough beating. San Diego has wins over Calgary, Rochester, and Colorado, and losses to Buffalo and Colorado. They look to be part of the top tier, and they can prove it with a win in Albany this weekend.
5 Rochester Knighthawks (3-2)
A close loss to Buffalo at home in a game that was a first half goal fest and second half slow down. New dad Connor Fields put up seven points, Ryan Smith had nine, Thomas McConvey had seven of his own, most nights that’s going to be enough to get the job done. But against Buffalo, they came up short. Rochester is looking for answers in goal, and if they can’t find a solid option to replace Ryan Hartley, they’ll need to win in shootout fashion most weeks. They visit Halifax this weekend.
4 Georgia Swarm (4-2)
Georgia hung tough and actually outscored Albany in the second half. But the damage was done, they trailed 8-3 at half time. There aren’t too many games where you’ll see Brett Dobson get chased, but that happened in this one, and early in the 2nd half. Swarm got balanced scoring, and blocked a ton of shots, but got beaten badly in the loose ball category and on faceoffs. The extra possession is all Albany needs right now. Georgia will have to shake it off quickly, they travel to Toronto this weekend.
3 Buffalo Bandits (3-2)
Buffalo with two straight wins since dropping a heart breaker to Georgia. That week one loss against Albany doesn’t seem so bad anymore, does it? Buffalo looked more like their old selves. Six assists from Dhane Smith, three and three from Josh Byrne, and all the familiar faces in on goal scoring. Matt Vinc had a shaky first half, but close the door in the second half. A 5-0 run to star the 4th quarter was the difference in this one, as Buffalo went from down by one to up by three with under four minutes to go. Buffalo will be favored to keep their winning ways going when they host New York on Friday.
2 Albany Firewolves (6-0)
It gets harder every week, but Albany remains at two and not in the top spot yet. If you put them on the floor with Toronto today, I’d pick Toronto. But Albany is pushing more and more. They chased Brett Dobson early against Georgia, a very difficult thing to do. But Albany is making the difficult look routine at this point. Now 6-0, their best start ever, one of the best starts in NLL history, Albany remains the most fun story in lacrosse. They host San Diego this weekend and if DraftKings has them as a home underdog yet again, they will still have not played a game as a favorite against the spread (on DraftKings, always line shop folks).
1 Toronto Rock (4-0)
Toronto with a win over Halifax this week stays undefeated, they now have wins over Philly, PCLC, New York, and the Birds. Granted, that is not exactly murderer’s row. But they are also beating these teams fairly comfortably (Halifax made it interesting late), have the best goalie in the league right now in Nick Rose, and still aren’t showing signs of missing Tom Schreiber or Latrell Harris. Those players in the lineup right now effectively just makes a strength stronger rather than fixing a weakness. Toronto executes well, they’re experienced, and look ready for all comers. They host Georgia this week.