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NLL Weekend Primer: Week 13

After a light schedule last weekend, the NLL has loaded us up with eight wonderful contests here in Week 13. Only nine regular season weekends remain, including the one that starts tonight. Calgary is getting hot at the right time, New York is trying to end their time on Long Island with a magical run, Rochester desperately needs to snap a losing streak, and Toronto and Albany continue to jockey for the top of the standings. Plenty to look at, no point in wasting more time.


Last week, I was 1-4 against the spread and 1-4 on game totals. Woof.



For the season, I am 29-39 against the spread and 39-29 on game totals



All spreads/odds come from DraftKings at the time of writing. 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.


NEW YORK RIPTIDE (5-5) VS COLORADO MAMMOTH (3-7)


When: Friday, February 23rd. 9:00pm EST.

Where: Ball Arena, Colorado

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


New York is coming off a loss to Toronto in the UnBoxed game in Montreal, but have still won four of their last five. They even had a three goal lead twice in the game against Toronto. Despite the loss they still very much have the look of a contender. With the news that the Riptide will move to Ottawa starting next season, Riptide fans will certainly be looking for a big run to close out their last year on Long Island. Jeff Teat leads the lead in points and goals, and if New York’s season continues this way is making a very good case to be the league MVP. He had eight points against Toronto; the offense wasn’t a problem last week. Cam Dunkerley cooled off a bit and he was barely over 70% in goal, and faced a barrage of shots all night. Colorado has some quality shooters, even if they aren’t as stacked as Toronto, so he needs to return to form.


According to TyMerLacrosse stats, nobody in the NLL has surrendered mor event strength goals than Colorado, a whopping 85. They’ve surrendered 43 in the last three games, all losses. Their three wins this year are Vancouver twice, and Calgary. It’s just been a rough ride in Colorado in 2024. The remaining schedule has winnable games, but the Mammoth need to find a way to win against teams outside of the bottom feeders. For a while last week against Albany is looked like they might be turning a corner, they even took a lead in the third quarter, and tied the game midway through the 4th at 11. But in the end they couldn’t solve Doug Jamieson, who went over 80% in net, and that was that.


The Pick:


These teams have arrows pointing in different directions, as Colorado is on a three game slide, and New York had been red hot before falling to Toronto. The Riptide run through this portion of the schedule has been fun to watch, and I’ll say it rolls on. Riptide -1.5 and the over.


GEORGIA SWARM (6-4) VS SAN DIEGO SEALS (6-3)


When: Friday, February 23rd. 11:00pm EST.

Where: Pechanga Arena, San Diego

How to Watch: ESPNU, TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


Georgia has won back to back games, both close, against the Warriors and Knighthawks. This is the first of a back to back for them, and their only meeting against San Diego all year. It’s a very good test. While Georgia has one win over Buffalo, other wins include Colorado twice and Vancouver. This can be a statement for them to say their 4-1 start was no fluke, they’re for real. The shooters in this one will be interesting to watch for Georgia. Lyle Thompson averages about 2.5 goals a game, and takes about nine shots a game. Andrew Kew about two goals, about eight shots. Shayne Jackson and Seth Oakes can be distributors or scorers, and both shoot well. They’ll need to find a way to neutralize Trevor Baptiste to get the possessions they need though, a tall order.


San Diego was idle a week ago, but the last time we saw them they took a 7-2 lead into half time against New York and lost 10-8. Before that, they’d won four straight, including a very decisive win over Albany. San Diego already has two 50+ point scorers in Austin Staats and Wes Berg, the only other teams who can say that are Buffalo, Rochester, and Georgia, and multiple teams don’t have one player who has hit 50 yet. Chris Origlieri has been outstanding in net over the last six games. San Diego is very much a team pushing for the top of the league, and building towards being their best come May. When Georgia struggles in games, it usually coincides with the other team’s netminder having a hot night. Limit the Georgia shooters and keep the total low.


The Pick:


I am excited for the Georgia shooters vs young star goalie matchup in this one. Ultimately, I think San Diego just sees more of the ball thanks to the faceoff edge, and they take control as the game goes on. I’ll go with the Seals and the over.


LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (3-6) VS ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS (3-5)


When: Saturday, February 24th. 7:00pm EST.

Where: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


Vegas is coming in off back to back losses against Halifax and Philly. A noteworthy part of this is that they only managed eight goals against the Wings, a team whose notably has played some poor defense this season. Vegas had the eight goals on 44 shots. The Desert Dogs seem to save their best performances for their toughest opponents. Just three wins, but two of them are San Diego and Albany. The Jekyll and Hyde nature of this team has been a bugaboo this season, and once they start getting more consistent performances, they can hang with good teams. Jack Hannah has been critical in each of their wins, as has goalie Landon Kells. Hannah scored the game winner in both the San Diego and Albany games.


Rochester has lost five straight and was idle last week, so they haven’t felt the joy of a win since December 23rd against Vancouver. Long time to wait. The Hawks will do plenty of scoring. They put up 13 goals per game, nobody in the league does better (Halifax is tied). They also surrender 14 goals per game, nobody else in the league is worse, or even over 13. It’s a broken record from me, but it’s tough to have a regular gameplan of winning 15-14. Connor Fields, Ryan Smith, the weapons run deep for the Hawks, but the goaltending and defense hasn’t been good enough to turn those big offensive outputs into wins on a regular basis.


The Pick:


I won’t take the under in a Knighthawks game for the rest of the season. That is my promise to you. Even if the number is 30. It’s hard for me to pick a team that has lost five straight and is looking like they just don’t have many answers on defense or in goal. Even if Vegas isn’t lighting the board up, I’ll go with the Desert Dogs getting 2.5.


VANCOUVER WARRIORS (2-7) VS TORONTO ROCK (7-2)


When: Saturday, February 24th. 7:00pm EST

Where: FirstOntario Centre, Toronto

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


Toronto took the game over late against New York in Montreal. A four goal run in the fourth quarter put things away, and was a major response to New York cashing in shorthanded twice. Toronto outscored New York 9-3 in the second half, a testament to their defense which is very much their calling card. Unfortunately just as this team was getting healthy, bad news strikes. Tom Schreiber looks great, has eight assists against New York, Chris Corbeil gets activated, and then this week the news comes that Challen Rogers is expected to miss four to six weeks. Toronto has handled playing with a depleted roster since week one, and they are still 7-2, but losing a TPOY candidate is difficult when defense and transition is so key to what they do well.


Vancouver has lost three straight, including an OT game to Gerogia, and fell to the Rush a week ago. I have been vocal about liking the young Warriors core this year, and the team is getting some good local support. Their last two home games drew over 19,000 fans combined. It’s a learning season and a building year under Curt Malawsky. The record isn’t great, but the way young players like Charalambides and Grant have looked this year should make those fans excited. They’re a big underdog this week against the best team in the NLL though, they’ll need a big game.


The Pick:


The 3.5 goal line spread is what makes me think about this one for a while. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, teams cover it. Vegas covered it twice in three games, New York covered it and won outright, Albany covered it and won outright, list goes on. The big line, and the potential for a “nobody thinks we have a shot, let’s just have fun” game from Vancouver has me making a wild choice. Give me the Warriors +3.5, and the under.


ALBANY FIREWOLVES (7-2) VS BUFFALO BANDITS (5-4)


When: Saturday, February 24th, 7:30pm EST.

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


An early season rematch. Back then it was Buffalo’s opener and nobody knew that Albany was good yet. Albany was a 3.5 goal underdog, they won outright, we all so oh my god what is happening, and then over the course of the next month we realized Albany was good. And that’s the difference now. Albany isn’t sneaking up on Buffalo in this one. The Bandits lost to Halifax last week, but get to return to the cozy confines of Banditland this weekend for their Albany rematch. I am very certain that about 18,000 people will remember how the last game went.


The Albany offense has sputtered a bit in the last month or so. After that early winning streak, the Firewolves dropped two in a row and didn’t score more than seven in other game. They scored 13 last week against Colorado, who has not been playing very good defense. This week they could get back to doing some scoring. Matt Vinc has been over 73.1% just one time in the last four games, as Buffalo has been playing shootouts of late. The one time he was over he was at 78%, and that was Rochester. So Vinc will still dial it up for the big time offenses. Albany will be strolling in with elite shooters, and Vinc will need to be on his game.


The Pick:


The Bandits have gone over in five straight, Albany has gone under in five of their last six. Something’s gotta give, and I’m going to say it’s the defenses. I’ll be on Buffalo and the over.


HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS (6-4) VS SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (3-4)


When: Saturday, February 24th. 8:00pm EST.

Where: SaskTel Centre, Saskatchewan

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


The Birds went 1-1 last weekend in a back to back, beating Buffalo and losing to Calgary. The loss to Calgary snapped a four game winning streak for Halifax, and three of those wins came without Randy Staats in the lineup. As I say most weeks, Jake Withers will be critical for the Birds. Saskatchewan is facing off, as a team, at 26.32%, while Halifax as a team is at 73.87%, with Withers personally just over 75%. They have yet to be on the losing end of the faceoff battle in a game, and Withers was a perfect 30 for 30 against Buffalo. Halifax will as they always do look to ride that extra possession for an offense full of weapons to victory.


The Rush have won back to back games, notching wins over Panther City and Vancouver. They were idle last week. In dealing with Withers, the Rush will likely have to weather a storm, particularly early, of possessions for their defense. Saskatchewan gives up more goals in the first quarter of games than any other, and more assists as well. A hot start for them is key if they want to make the upset happen. Zach Manns outstanding season so far has been one of my favorite stories this year, he’s up to 36 points. His 16 goals have come on 44 shots. The Rush will need a big night from him. They’re wearing Hulk jerseys for Marvel night, they’ll have to play like it.


The Pick:


Halifax recent form gives them an edge here, but I think this could be closer than expected. I’m going to go with the Birds, but acknowledge that I’m a hot Frank Scigliano away from regretting it. I will also be on the under.


PHILADELPHIA WINGS (3-5) VS CALGARY ROUGHNECKS (4-5)


When: Saturday, February 24th. 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 22.5


The Matchup:


What a difference a couple weeks makes. At 2-5, we were getting ready to shovel dirt on the Calgary grave. With back to back wins over Toronto and Halifax, suddenly the Riggers are right back in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Roughnecks are a team that’s more than happy to play the run and gun game. They scored 13 in the first half against Halifax, and had five transition goals in the course of the game. As good as they have been about running transitions of their own, their transition defense has improved. They haven’t allowed more than two transition goals in a game since January 20th.


Philly had one transition goal against Vegas, but put up a whopping seven against Halifax. They’ve have 4+ transition goals in a game three times this year. However, only Rochester is surrendering more total goals per game this year than Philadelphia. In the last two weeks the Roughnecks have shot well enough to beat Nick Rose and chase Warren Hill. Zach Currier’s loose ball play is looking like the Currier we all know and love; he has 27 in the last two games (he took two faceoffs in those games, so it’s not getting padded by that spot). It took until February, but Calgary got to what they do best.


The Pick:


Calgary’s recent form makes it tough to pick against them. They want to run, Philly might invite that so they can play more offense and try and steal a few goals. I’ll take Calgary to win a game against most teams if the formula for the day is a ton of transition and up and down play. Riggers are the pick, and the over.


GEORGIA SWARM (6-4) VS PANTHER CITY LACROSSE CLUB (4-4)


When: Sunday, February 25th. 4:00pm EST.

Where: Dickies Arena, Texas

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


We covered Georgia a bit above, and the same ideas hold true here. Their shooters can crack Nick Damude early and often, the team will have success.


Panther City has won three of their last four, the exception being a one goal loss to Saskatchewan. The wins are New York, Vegas, and Colorado. In their recent wins, the offense is cooking. They put up 14 on New York, 21 on Vegas, and 14 on Colorado. Donville hit the game winner against Vegas and Colorado. There is a very good strength on strength matchup here on the special teams. PCLC has the second best power play in the league, with just over 27% efficiency. Georgia’s penalty kill efficieny is over 85%, second only to Colorado in the league. If Georgia comes in on the 2nd game of a back to back and let’s fatigue lead to penalties, they’ll need to be ready to deal with one of the most dangerous units in the NLL.


The Pick:


Always hard to make a pick on a game where one of the teams is on a back to back. It’s hard to know just how fresh Georgia will be, how healthy they’ll be, any travel issues they have, it’s a lot to try and account for. Because of the fact that the Swarm are going from home, to San Diego, straight to Texas, and that’s not an easy road trip, it’s hard to lean the Swarm’s way. Panther City is favored at plus money, I’ll go for the value and take PCLC with the over.

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