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NLL Weekend Primer: Week 18

It’s the weekend primer, but in the middle of the week! Only four weeks, including this one, of regular season NLL ball to go. It’s a short slate this week, and then three loaded weekends to close out the year and get us to the playoffs. This week’s primer is early because of a mid week game. Saskatchewan and Philly are making up their game originally scheduled for . It’s the first of two games for the Wings this weekend; they also host Buffalo on Saturday. Also of note, flex scheduling for the TSN game of the week and viewing options has been announced. That impacts the games for Week 20 and Week 21. The TSN Game of the Week for Week 20 is Rochester vs Toronto. For Week 21, there will be a doubleheader. The first game will be Colorado vs Halifax, the second will be either Toronto vs Saskatchewan or Panther City vs Calgary. That second game will be announced April 1.


Last week, I was 5-3 against the spread and 6-2 on game totals. Actually not bad?


For the season, I am 46-59 against the spread and 59-47 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.



SASKATCHEWAN RUSH (5-8) VS PHILADELPHIA WINGS (5-8)


When: Thursday, March 28th. 7:00pm EDT.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Pick:


This game is a make up date from January 13th, when some extreme winter weather kept Saskatchewan from making it Philly. Philly hasn’t won, or lost, two in a row since late January. Last week, the Wings got blitzed by the Warriors, surrendering 21 goals to a team that, while talented, hasn’t exactly been an offensive powerhouse all year. The Wings have been on a razor thin margin in the defensive end all year. They count on Zach Higgins to mask defensive breakdowns with top tier goalie play. And to Higgins’ credit, he obliges them frequently. He’s made more saves in 13 games than some NLL starters have made in 14, or even 15 games. The Rush are coming off a rough double header weekend. They fell to New York on Saturday, and then lost a lead to Georgia in a game where they had the Swarm shut out for an entire half. The Rush had been in good form coming into the weekend. This has loser leaves town feels to it. Both teams have just five games left, and a loss would be all but season ending. The Rush coming off playing back to back games just four days ago makes me think they may not be fresh for this one, and they have to travel to Philly on top of that. I’ll take the Wings and the over.


BUFFALO BANDITS (7-7) VS PHILADELPHIA WINGS (5-8)


When: Saturday, March 30th. 1:00pm EDT.

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Buffalo favored by 2.5, game total set at 24.5


The Pick:


Philly will be on a quick turnaround, having played Saskatchewan two days earlier. As noted above, Philly’s MO this year has been to lean on Higgins in goal to cover up defensive mistakes, and lean on their very talented offense to keep pace with teams. The Bandits lost to Panther City in OT last week. They had won two in a row prior to that, including a win over Toronto. As of today, there are two players in the NLL who have eclipsed 100 points this season. Jeff Teat and Josh Byrne. Dhane Smith isn’t far behind with 97. Buffalo may not be quite the juggernaut they were a year ago, but the offense still is a scary sight for a defense that’s had some issues. Connor Farrell could be an X factor facing off, if he can get the better of Philly and Nick Rowlett, the Bandits wining the possession battle will be difficult for Philly to overcome. I’ll take Buffalo even with a large line, and the under.


HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS (8-7) VS ROCHESTER KNIGHTHAWKS (6-7)


When: Saturday, March 30th. 7:00pm EDT.

Where: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Thunderbirds favored by 1.5, game total set at 25.5


The Pick:


Halifax has just three games left, but all three are against teams currently under .500. The Birds missing the playoffs at this point would be a stunner, though still mathematically possible. That doesn’t mean they can take their foot off the gas. Only one of those final three games are at home for them. If they play poorly to end the year and end up in a first round playoff game on the road, they will have played just three home games between March 1st and that playoff game. A situation they’d like to avoid. Halifax won the first meeting between these two , 13-8. The Hawks lost to Colorado a week ago, scoring just seven goals. They had won three straight before that and looked more like their high flying selves. With five games to play, the Hawks are very much in the playoff hunt. The schedule is difficult though. I think Halifax picks things up and begans ramping towards the playoffs in this one, so I’ll take the Birds. Also, it’s Rochester. I’m on the over.


VANCOUVER WARRIORS (5-9) VS LAS VEGAS DESERT DOGS (4-10)


When: Saturday, March 30th. 10:00pm EDT.

Where: Michelob Ultra Arena, Las Vegas

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Vancouver favored by 1.5 (Vegas is a moneyline favorite), game total set at 22.5


The Pick:


They may be at the bottom of the standings, but that’s not reason to skip this one. Vegas, even at 4-10, is mathematically alive for a playoff spot. They need to win out and get Sam carrying Frodo up Mount Doom levels of help, but they can still make the postseason. The turnaround does seem unlikely though. Vegas has lost four straight games, including a game to this Warriors team two weeks ago. They’ve battled; the last two weeks they lost by one goal, including an OT loss to the Seals a week ago. Vancouver made the move to Aden Walsh in net five games ago, and have gone 3-2 over that stretch. Wash has been solid, not world beating by any means, but doing enough for Vancouver to win games. Their three wins in that span are Buffalo, Vegas, and Philly. Vancouver fans have shown up to support this team at home this year, there are multiple young stars in the making on the club, and they have the perfect coach for to keep things moving in the right direction. Vancouver has four games left, including upcoming games against Halifax and San Diego. I’ll take Vancouver here, I think they’re playing well and trending up. I’ll also be on the over.

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