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NLL Weekend Primer: Week 10

Week Nine saw the last of the undefeateds fall. There were shootouts, there were highlights, there were chases for history. An extremely fun weekend of six games. This weekend, there are eight games, so it’s going to be even better. Calgary has a double dip, Buffalo tries to stay in their top form, Georgia needs to snap a losing streak, and everyone is in action. We’ve got a TSN Game of the Week and a game on ESPNU in the US, plus college lacrosse returning, it’s going to be a lacrosse packed weekend.

Last week, I went 2-4 against the spread and 2-4 on game totals.

For the season, I am 21-27 against the spread and 27-21 on game totals.

All spreads/odds come from DraftKings. In case you can’t tell from the records, I’m not good at this. If you are serious about picks/wagering, you should line shop across all sportsbooks and consider the odds you are getting. I don’t actually bet these games, just picks.


When: Friday, February 2nd. 7:00pm EST.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Halifax favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

Halifax is coming off a win over Rochester that snapped a three game losing streak. Their defense played well in front of Warren Hill, who made multiple excellent saves. Holding Rochester to just eight, while limiting their stars, is no easy feat. It’s the only time this year Rochester has been held to less than 13 goals. A matchup with the Wings could go a similar way. Like the Knighthawks, Philly has an offense that has explosive potential and a defense that might be a little suspent. Philly has allowed Zach Higgins to see a ton of rubber this season, and he’s been up to the task for the most part. That’s a dangerous game against this Halifax lineup. Of note in this one, Randy Staats headed to the Injured Reserve list mid week, casting doubt on his availability for this matchup. 

The Wings offense was up to it the last time these two play. They met back on December 29, and Philly won the shoot out, 16-15 in overtime. The Wings had to outscore Halifax 10-5 over the second half of the game to make that happen. They also did it without Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni in the lineup. The boost to the offense is big, and they’ll need to maximize on chance. Jake Withers was at 91% in the first matchup. It’s tough to walk onto the floor knowing faceoffs won’t go your way, but that’s what Philly has to overcome. Riorden, Cattoni, Mitch Jones, and Joe Resetarits are the guys who have to toe the line between playing aggressively on offense, but not recklessly so they waste possessions.

The Pick:

Halifax snapped the streak and looked very good doing it. No Randy Staats would be a concern, but the rest of the Birds offense should be well equipped to pressure Philly plenty. I’ll take Halifax and the over. 


When: Friday, February 2nd. 7:30pm EST.

Where: Gas South Arena, Georgia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Georgia favored by 1.5, game total set at 22.5

The Matchup:

Georgia comes in off a loss to New York that made it a three game skid. The Swarm started hot, with a 4-1 record and a win in Buffalo. Their lone loss in that 4-1 start? Vancouver, who they welcome to Georgia this weekend. Shayne Jackson hasn’t scored a single goal during the Georgia losing streak. As potent as the Swarm offense is, they need Jackson to get going and start finding the back of the net again. Jackson still sits at 40 points, second on the team behind Lyle Thompson and one of just nine players in the NLL above the 40 point mark; that’s a testament to just how productive and impactful he was in their start. Georgia can get back to their top five team ways if Jackson can get back to scoring.

The Vancouver Warriors are coming off a serious beating from Colorado, one that led to some seriously impassioned answers from Curt Malawsky in the post game press conference. I don’t like saying sports comes down to this kind of thing, because it’s always sort of nebulous and unquantifiable and ultimately a cop out, but the Warriors need to play more inspired lacrosse. They are pros, they are skilled, you can see the physical and athletic ability they have, it’s why they are on the floor. But as Malawsky points out, there are moments when a big play happens and the bench doesn’t seem to get energized by it. The skill of guys like Adam Charalambides and Keegan Bal is apparent every week. The defense is coming together and has a young star in Owen Grant, who already guards top matchups every week. The culture building is happening.

The Pick:

In an ideal world, Vancouver heard their coach and GM after the last week, take it to heart, and they come out with a renewed vigor for the game. I think that’s what happens, and they put forth a good effort. I also think Georgia is able to get the win anyway. I’ll take the Swarm and the under. 


When: Friday, February 2nd. 9:00pm EST

Where: Westjet Field at ScotiaBank Saddledome, Calgary

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Calgary favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

The Riptide are on a heater. They’ve won three of their last four games, two of those against Buffalo and Georgia who look like playoff teams. The offense is averaging just over 14 goals per game over that four game stretch. As you might expect, Jeff Teat has been central to the success of the Riptide. He had the game winning goal in two of those three wins, including one near the end of regulation to break a tie and beat Buffalo. He’s up to 44 points, on a perfectly balanced 22 goals and 22 assists. Since acquiring Stephen Keogh in late December, the Riptide offense has round it’s form. They play with confidence and the ball moves extremely well in even strength situations, and have by far the most efficient power play in the league. They’ll see a solid test in Christian Del Bianco this week. 

Calgary comes in at 2-3, and their wins are over the lowly Warriors and Desert Dogs. This will be just their second home game of the year though, and the other was a convincing win. The Roughnecks have been all about Jesse King on offense, who is currently sitting on 36 points. His 28 assists are 4th in the league, and all three players ahead of him have played two more games than he has. He’ll be the key to the game. If the Riptide defense can limit King, and force Tyler Pace and Tanner Cook to carry the offensive lead, the Roughnecks could be in for a rough night. As mentioned, Christian Del Bianco will need to be on the form that won him MVP a year ago, because the New York shooters are hot.

The Pick:

Calgary getting the chance to play at home is meaningful, but New York is just too hot right to pick against them. I’ll take the Riptide getting goals, and the over. 


When: Saturday, February 3rd. 7:00pm EST. 

Where: MVP Arena, Albany

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Albany favored by 3.5, game total set at 22.5

The Matchup:

Vegas has to get over last week in a hurry. They suffered a brutal loss to Panther City that was never really competitive, dropping their record to 2-4. The two are noteworthy, one is against the Panther City team that just beat them, the other is against maybe the best team in the league, San Diego. Vegas is being led by their veterans righ tnow, with Rob Hellyer and Casey Jackson both performing decently well. Young star Jack Hannah continues to develop. But Vegas just doesn’t seem to have the weapons to keep up with most teams, and the defense and goaltender isn’t allowing them to keep scores low. Faceoffs go their way frequently between Zach Cole and Connor Kirst, which will be important in this one. 

Albany was idle last week and sits at 6-1. After a 6-0 start, going loss into bye week can’t be good for momentum. On top of that, Albany hasn’t hit the over in a game since December 16th. That doesn’t actually matter all that much, just mentioned to point out that the goal scoring has not been as plentiful as it was the first three weeks.  With seven games under their belt, Albany is done sneaking up on people. The film is out, the scout is out, the excellent young rookies will have to start adjusting. Vegas already saw this team on opening weekend, with Albany taking home a two goal victory. The Firewolves obviously shot like a cannon from there but now the grind starts. It gets harder to just ride the momentum of being that underdog, because now, nobody is going to consider Albany an underdog anymore. 

The Pick:

The spread here is a big one. It was a two goal game in week one, and a lot has happened since then. Albany has tended to win comfortably this year, with half there victories coming by four or more goals. But San Diego clamped them pretty well, and Vegas will try to do the same. I do not like laying a lot of goals in lacrosse, and won’t here. I’ll take Vegas to cover, Albany to win, and the game goes under. 


When: Saturday, February 3rd. 7:30pm EST. 

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Buffalo favored by 2.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

Buffalo dropped a game at home to New York two weeks ago, but righted the ship by beating their rival, and at the time 5-0, Toronto Rock. Chase Fraser was electric, but it’s the whole of the Buffalo offense that has found itself over the last three games. The Bandits are averaging nearly 15 goals over the last three games. The 16 spot they put on Toronto was the just the second time this year anyone even got to double digits. Josh Byrne is just under seven points per game on the season to date. Dhane Smith is just a point behind him, and Smith has a whopping 39 assist in seven games. As they did last year, the Bandits are once again beating opponents with just waves of weapons and a balanced, ball sharing offense. Rochester has struggled to limit opponents scoring this season, and that makes this one a tough matchup.

The Knighthawks can score with anyone. They’ll play the track meet game. Last week was the first time they didn’t reach at least 13 goals. When these teams played on January 13, it was the track meet we thought it would be, with a 20 goal first half and a 15-13 final. Rochester would likely welcome playing the same type came. Connor Fields, Ryan Smith, Thomas McConvey, and Ryan Lanchbury is as fearsome a top four as you might find in the NLL. But the Knighthawks are still in search of a goaltender who can make consistent plays in play of Rylan Hartley. I said it for the last game, I’ll say it again for this one. If you’re roster has a question mark on it when you play Buffalo, it better not be in net. 

The Pick:

I’ll pick this game to unfold as the previous one did. With lots and lots of goals. Buffalo is the class of the league right now in my eyes, and I’ll take them to win and cover. And if you take the under in the game, you hate fun. I hope we hit the over by half time.


When: Saturday, February 3rd. 8:00pm EST. 

Where: SaskTel Centre, Saskatchewan

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Panther City favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

Panther City has won two straight, and last week found themselves on 18 goals early in the 3rd quarter while Callum Crawford took aim at every record in the book. Their other win was over New York, a game they grinded out with a big second half from Nick Damude. The only regular starters with a better save percentage than Damude right now are Nick Rose, Chris Origlieri, and he’s tied with Christian Del Bianco. It’s been a heck of year for him so far. He’ll have to handle a Saskatchewan team that shoots the ball very well. Only Toronto and Calgary have a better team shooting percentage. 

Zach Manns is a key for Saskatchewan. He’s one of the more accurate shooters in the NLL this year, and has 14 goals in five games. The combination of he, Robert Church, and Ryan Keenan is a formidable one. The Rush need to start turning some of their close losses into wins if they want to climb out of the cellar of the standings. Taking the Firewolves to OT is great, but they lost that game. Dropping a game to Vancouver was a bad one for the Rush, they gave up a 6-0 4th quarter. Manns will have to make shots count, as he has all year to put them by Damude. Transition is another area where the Rush can have success. PCLC has surrendered 12 fast break goals this year, averaging two per game. The Rush are scoring over 2 per game. If they can turn saves from Frank Scigliano into transition opportunities, they may be able to squeeze out a few goals that make the difference.

The Pick:

The Rush are better than their record. I’ve also underestimated PCLC to this point in the season. Callum Crawford should be rested after getting the second half off last week, and Jonathan Donville and Will Malcom will come in red hot off their performance against Vegas. I’ll take Panther City but it’ll be a grind, and I’ll take the under. 


When: Saturday, February 3rd. 9:00pm EST.

Where: WestJet Field at ScotiaBank Saddledome, Calgary

How to Watch: TSN, TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Toronto favored by 1.5, game total set at 22.5

The Matchup:

It’ll be tough to get a read here since this is Calgary’s second game in two days. And have the second of the two be Toronto is about as brutal as it gets. 

The Rock suffered their first loss of the year a week ago at the hands of a team who has their number over the last few years, Buffalo. I am still a believer in the Rock. But at some point, they’ll have to knock off the Bandits if they really want to claim the crown. They don’t have to do that this week, they just have to handle Calgary. As covered above, Jesse King is a key focal point for Calgary. Toronto’s strength is their defense, transition, and goalie play. The game against Buffalo was the first time all year they looked beatable, let alone vulnerable. But it wasn’t some kind of blitz that did it. A steady onslaught eventually turned some cracks into the dam into a collapse. Buffalo scored just once in the 1st quarter, Toronto didn’t at all. Toronto had a 5-1 third quarter. But the pressure was constant, and the Bandits broke through with a 7-0 run to in the 4th quarter. That’s what Calgary needs to do in this one. 

The Pick:

Calgary going up against the arguably the best defense, probably best overall team, on the second day of a back to back is a very tall order. It’s tough to make a pick before seeing what happens on Friday night, but just on sight I’m inclined to take Toronto and the under. 


When: Sunday, February 4th. 6:00pm EST.

Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego

How to Watch: ESPNU, TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: San Diego favored by 2.5, game total set at 23.5

The Matchup:

The Mammoth come in riding a two game winning streak after a 1-4 start. The wins are over Calgary and Vancouver, but both by a decent margin. The key for the Mammoth will be Eli McLaughlin staying hot. He has 27 points over his last four games, with 10 of them coming against Vancouver. The Liger, along with Connor Robinson, have been instrumental in righting the ship this year. Colorado has shown time and time again they are never really out of it, and any of us foolish to think they might be down this year should probably think again. The ship is being righted, and a win on the road in San Diego would do them wonders. 

The Seals come in riding a three game win streak. Last week they let Philly hang around a bit, which is not always the mark of a great team. The week before they dismantled Albany, handing them their first loss, very much the mark of a great team. The Seals won the first matchup with Colorado this year 12-8. Noteworthy about that game is it pretty much was on script for Colorado. McLaughlin and Robinson combined for 11 points, and Dillon Ward made 41 saves behind a defense that played pretty well.  The difference was specialists, as Trevor Baptiste was over 70% facing off and Chris Origlieri saved nearly 85% of shots he saw. San Diego can ride those two again, as both have showed no signs of slowing down during the San Diego hot streak. 

The Pick:

I’ll be on San Diego, hard as they are to read at times. Only Vancouver and Vegas score fewer goals per game than Colorado. The average is climbing thanks to recent performance. San Diego has gone under in six of seven games this year, Colorado doesn’t score a ton, I’m on the under. 


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