The first attempt at NLL power rankings are here. I skipped them a week ago in favor of letting everyone in the league get at least one game under their belt. Two weekends in, we’ve gotten to see everyone take the floor. We’ve had some upsets, some surprises, an OT game, and plenty of solid performances.
When approaching rankings, the approach I typically take is asking myself, “if these two teams met on a neutral floor today, who would I pick to win”, and applying that across the board. What that means in a neutral game, I’d pick a team to beat everyone ranked behind them. I also tend to do this with some recency bias, as that’s a power ranking is all about. What have you done for me lately. If you’re ranked number one, you’re the best in the business. For this week. If you’re ranked last, you’ve got some work to do, but you’re a win away from being out of the cellar. And now, the grand reveal, in reverse order.
15. Saskatchewan Rush
The Rush are out to an 0-2 start, dropping to Halifax and Rochester. Not exactly losses to bad teams. Zach Manns is out to a great start on offense, but the Rush defense has surrendered 33 goals in two games, more than anyone else in the league by a decent margin. The offense has scored the third most goals to date. Filling the net up is great, unless the other team is piling up goals much faster than you are.
14. New York Riptide
New York was idle this week, they’ll welcome Halifax to Long Island this weekend. A win would be a massive statement from the Riptide.
13. Vancouver Warriors
Vancouver was idle this week, they sit at 0-1 after a week one loss to Panther City. They’ll host Georgia this weekend.
12. Panther City Lacrosse Club
Panther City lost a heartbreaker to Vegas, which is the reason they’re 12 and Vegas is 11 for me. Line them up again tomorrow, Panther City might get that last second save or squeak out one more goal. But that’s why we play the games. Callum Crawford continues to tell Father Time to kick rocks; Crawford has eight goals in two games. PCLC is idle this week before they host Toronto on 12/22.
11. Las Vegas Desert Dogs
What an effort to get that win on Sunday. With the clock winding down, rookie Sean Westley fired from distance and beat Nick Damude to tie the game. 0.8 seconds remained. In OT, it was Zack Greer, very much NOT a rookie, who played the hero with a game winner. The Desert Dogs will battle this year, but they’ll win some games along the way. The last frame of this one shows you there is zero quit in this group.
10. Albany Firewolves
Is this disrespect? Maybe? I am trying to determine how for real the Albany Firewolves are. Per my rules above, if you put them on the floor against everyone ranked ahead of them, I’d pick against Albany. Yes, even Buffalo. But I am excited to watch Albany continue to develop this year. The Simmons/Kurtz/Walker group is really good. I would imagine all the various people who do these rankings probably have Albany at all sorts of different spots. We are all learning just how for real this Albany team is, and those are my favorite teams to watch. Another chance to prove they are for real this week at Philly.
9. Philadelphia Wings
The Wings lost to Toronto this week. After two early goals, they struggled to make things happen against the Rock’s defense. I do really like Philly’s power play. Mitch Jones is every bit the MVP candidate that experts said he’d be. He’s electric on the left side. Holden Cattoni went to the Injured List this week, a rough break. The Wings finally host a game this weekend as they were the home opener opponent for Toronto and NY. They’ll welcome the frisky Albany Firewolves to Philly this weekend.
8. Calgary Roughnecks
I did not anticipate an 0-2 start for Calgary. They were firmly in control against Rochester in week one and gave up a huge run, and then had to travel to San Diego week two. They get some time off now, not playing again until December 30th when they have their home opener against Vegas. It’s a good early break for them to refocus after a rough start. Jesse King already has 12 assists, and Tanner Cook has looked excellent as well.
7. Colorado Mammoth
Colorado dropped their first game of the year against Georgia. Connor Kelly, who joined the team in the offseason, was activated for this one and had five points, as did Eli McLaughlin and Tyson Gibson. Colorado is without Dillon Ward for now as he works back from the PUP List. The Mammoth over the last few years are more concerned with who they’re playing in May and June, not December. An early loss isn’t ideal, and they get the chance to avenge it when they hose Georgia two weekends from now, but it’s far from a reason to be concerned about Colorado.
6. Georgia Swarm
A convincing 16-10 over the Mammoth. Minor caveat in that Ward wasn’t in net for Colorado, and there are plenty of other injuries to mention, but 16-10 is still convincing. Seven points from Lyle Thompson, plus hat tricks from Shayne Jackson and Seth oakes. 39 saves from Brett Dobson. Brady Kearnan got his first career goal. Last year Georgia started the season with seven straight losses, all against very good teams, before feasting on some weaker teams late in the year. To make the playoffs, Georgia will need to win against the playoff teams. They started the year on the right foot.
5. Rochester Knighthawks
Rochester with another win, this week over the Rush. Last week it was Calgary. Connor Fields has been unreal through two games, picking up where he left off a year ago. He’s got 17 points in two games. This week, the Hawks dealt two first round picks for Ryan Lanchbury, and got an instant impact from him, as he put up four points. Last year, the Knighthawks were on fire early in the year winning six straight, and then fell off. They’ll have to take a hot start through the season this year to hold this ranking.
4. Halifax Thunderbirds
Thunderbirds were idle this week. They’ll play in New York this weekend. Halifax dismantling Saskatchewan in week one, even missing some weapons, was convincing.
3. Buffalo Bandits
Buffalo with a rough less in Albany. The Bandits on paper outclass just about everyone, and they were a heavy favorite. I do not have concerns about Buffalo. They’re built to well and coached to well to really think this loss was an indication of any larger issues. Matt Vinc just happened to have one of his worst games, and that’s about it. He doesn’t give up 17 often. Adam Levi reported it’s the first time it happened since 2013. He’s an all time great, Buffalo is the defending champ, hard to imagine them dropping too far in these rankings.
2. Toronto Rock
An excellent performance against Philly jump Toronto over Buffalo. The defense and transition play in Toronto is smothering. It’s relentless. And that’s without Latrell Harris or Chris Corbeil. Mitch De Snoo had three assists in this game. Brad Kri one and one. 38 saves for Nick Rose in net. Toronto is going to win games with defense this year, and even if that’s not enough, Mark Matthews and Chris Boushy are there to fill the net up. And eventually, Schreiber comes back.
San Diego Seals
San Diego got their first win of the season by knocking off Calgary on Saturday night, and they put Brodie Merrill’s number in the rafters. A few changes for San Diego coming into this year paid immediate dividends. The first, Trevor Baptiste is wearing purple and gold now. As a result, the Seals went 20/27 facing off. Chris Origlieri made 34 saves. Staats and Dickson led the scoring. It took San Diego a while to get it going, they trailed 6-3 in the third quarter. But out scoring Calgary 9-3 over the game’s final 25 minutes was impressive.