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NLL Weekend Primer, Week 6

Week Five had a packed slate of games, including an OT thriller on New Year’s Eve. Albany pulled out the win in Saskatchewan to stay undefeated and keep their incredible start alive. Georgia made a statement with a big win in Buffalo. Toronto firmly looks like the best team in the league. Philly pulled out a massive win over Halifax. Calgary finally got their first win. Stories are being written every week, and it’s been a joy to watch so far. Crowds in Halifax, Colorado, and Buffalo were excellent at their respective games, with noise and emotion you could truly feel as you watched on TV. It’s so uplifting to see markets like that really show up and fill the seats for their teams.  Week Six has just four games on the slate, but they’re all fun matchups. Albany takes on a heavyweight, a title rematch, and the New York/Philly rivalry renewed. 


Last week, I went 1-6 against the spread and 6-1 on game totals. Astonishing.


For the season, I am 13-13 against the spread and 14-12 on game totals.


As always, lines are taken from DraftKings. If you are serious about making picks/gambling, you should shop all sportsbooks for the best value.


HALIFAX THUNDERBIRDS VS ALBANY FIREWOLVES


When: Saturday, January 6th. 7pm EST

Where: MVP Arena, Albany

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Halifax favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5


The Matchup:


Halifax comes in off a tough loss to Philly in which they gave up 10 second half goals and lost in OT. They actually didn’t trail in the game until they lost it. Th


Albany is now at 4-0 and has Alex Simmons tied for the league lead in points. Their best win is against Buffalo which came at home. Their only home game so far this year, until this weekend. I hope the Albany crowd takes notice of this team has started and the level of game this is and shows up in droves, we’ll see how it goes. Albany’s offense is led by a trio of young stars: Simmons, Ethan Walker, and Tye Kurtz.  Kurtz and Simmons are rookies. In this one, they’ll be tested by a defense loaded with veterans, and some of the best in the business. Graeme Hossack, Ryan Terefenko, Jake Withers, Tyson Bell, they’ll be making life mighty difficult for the youngsters. Even with a game against Buffalo under their belt, it’s not a stretch to say this could be the most difficult matchup Albany has seen yet. 


The Thunderbirds need to shake that loss off in a hurry, because things aren’t getting any easier. It’s Albany this weekend, followed by Toronto, then a week off before Rochester. Focusing on this weekend, Halifax presents a major test for the Albany defense. The Firewolves have given up exactly 10 goals in three games, the only team to go past 10 was Buffalo who had 13. Halifax has scored 14 or more in each of their three games. They’ve had a different leading scorer in each game. They run remarkably deep on offense. Randy Staats will have plenty of looks at net in this one, it’ll be a tall task for Doug Jamieson all night. An interesting matchup here will be for Jake Withers. He’ll be facing off against Joe Nardella, and these two are among the best at their position in the world. The faceoff battle, and the extra possession for the team that wins it, could be the difference.


The Pick:


Albany and Halifax have played four times, and Albany is 3-1 in those games. The combined margin of victory in those three wins is four goals. Clarke Petterson and Randy Staats both historically perform well against Albany. Albany is getting 1.5, but there’s very little value at -145, and they are a moneyline favorite. That said I’ll take the goals and throw my money away. Albany +1.5, and the over.


PANTHER CITY LACROSSE CLUB VS GEORGIA SWARM


When: Saturday, January 6th. 7:30pm EST.

Where: GAS South Arena, Georgia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Georgia favored by 2.5, game total set at 22.5


The Matchup:


This is a tough one for Panther City. Idle last week, but come in having lost back to back games. They’re hanging tight, not really getting blown out by anyone, and they have very promising talent. Callum Crawford has turned back the clock this year and has 15 points, tied with Jonathan Donville for the team lead. Nick Damude has been excellent in net, with a GAA just below 10 and save percentage just over 80, both marks near the top of the league for netminders. Matt Hossack has been a stand out on defense and in transition, and experts around the league regard Evan Messenger very well too. 


Georgia, however, is playing on another level right now. Back to back wins against the teams that played for the title last year, both on the road, and surrendered just eight goals in both games. It was the second time they shellacked Colorado this year. And they were an underdog both times. Brett Dobson is making a very early case for goalie of the year. Only Damude and Nick Rose have better numbers, and they’re only slightly better, and Dobson also has played one more game than the others. Lyle Thompson is up to 22 points on an evenly split 11 goals and assists and is shooting 29.7%; he remains the portrait of the perfect all purpose weapon in lacrosse. Shayne Jackson is also off to a blistering start through four games. Georgia is experienced and playing some of their best lacrosse right now. 


The Pick:


Georgia’s recent form is just too hard to ignore. Callum Crawford is shooting 31%, a solid mark, but Donville is at 19%. If either of Panther City’s top scorers get stopped by the wall that is Brett Dobson, it’ll be a long night for PCLC. I’ll take Georgia and the under. 


COLORADO MAMMOTH VS BUFFALO BANDITS


When: Saturday, January 6th. 7:30pm EST

Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

The Spread: Buffalo favored by 2.5, game total set at 22.5 


The Matchup:


The championship rematch from the last two seasons in Buffalo. And it’s Wing Night. Doesn’t get much better than that. 


Buffalo is coming off a home loss to Georgia by one goal. The Bandits didn’t really play all that badly, they ran into a hot Brett Dobson that kept them off the board. Dobson made 46 saves at an 85% clip, and whenever that happens, it can be hard to overcome. Dhane Smith had seven assists, Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser had four points each, the players you’d expect to provide the scoring provided it, but just not at the rate they might usually do so. The weapons are still plentiful and, as I said after they lost week one against Albany, I’ll never stop believing the Bandits are a heavy contender to repeat as champs. But scoring was tough last game, and it might not get any easier in this game.


Dillon Ward will likely be in net for Colorado, but as Tyler Carlson showed a week ago, the Mammoth netminders can keep teams quiet for extended stretches at a time. Colorado is dealing with plenty of injuries but getting Joey Cupido back was a major boost for them. This would be a massive win as they fight to stay in the mix as players get healthy. Connor Robinson, Zed Williams, and Eli McLaughlin are leading the charge in doing that. The trio combined for 17 points in Colorado’s comeback win over Vancouver a week ago. 


The Pick:


Colorado has a way of having the game they absolutely must have. The past two years they weren’t really even considered the top team in the West, and yet found themselves either hoisting the trophy or falling in game three of the finals. Buffalo finds themselves in an early season bind. The idea of going 1-3 to start the year is unthinkable in that locker room.


Buffalo, in front of a raucous home crowd, plays like a team with their back against the wall and wins. But Colorado battles. I’ll take the Mammoth +2.5 and the under. 


NEW YORK RIPTIDE VS PHILADELPHIA WINGS


When: Sunday, January 7th. 3pm EST

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia

How to Watch: TSN+, ESPN+

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


The Matchup:


The tried and true, New York vs Philly matchup. Fun in every sport. These teams already met once, in the season opener, and Philly won 13-10.


New York fell behind early in that game, spotting Philly a quick 4-0 lead. They came back to within one but could never quite get over the hump. Philly just always had the answer. In that first matchup, Blaze Riorden and Holden Cattoni had six goals, and both will be unavailable for the rematch. The Philly offense sputtered a bit without them, although they found their footing a week ago with a 16 goal outburst and win over Halifax. Mitch Jones has been a constant and is spectacular. But Joe Resetarits and Taite Cattoni also filled the book, and Jack Jasinski hit the OT game winner. 


The Riptide currently sit at 0-3, with losses to Philly, Halifax, and Toronto. Not exactly a lightweight schedule and being 0-3 against that isn’t all the surprising. But New York’s offense has been struggling. Just six goals against Halifax, eight against Toronto. Jeff Teat was naerly shut out against Halifax, managing just two points. He bounced back with six points against Tortonto, but it wasn’t enough. New York feels like a team that will go as Teat goes. If he isn’t dominating from the left side, they’ll struggle. New York’s right side, revamped in the offseason, is still trying to get revved up. Connor Kearnan has been very good, but otherwise, it’s been a struggle. Kiel Matisz has seven points this year. Austin Madronic, a former sixth overall pick acquired by New York, has yet to score a goal this year. They recently acquired Stephen Keogh to help boost righty production, they’ll need the veteran lift. 


The Pick:


New York is currently at the bottom of the power rankings, and hasn’t looked like they deserve to be much higher through three games. The schedule hasn’t been easy, but it ain’t getting easier. Philly, PCLC, Buffalo, Georgia, Rochester, San Diego, Toronto, Colorado, and Albany at the teams up next. It’s a brutal schedule, and New York needs to get on the right foot in a hurry or this might spiral. Philly’s defense has struggled this year, just what New York needs to figure it out and build confidence. I don’t know if they win, but I’ll take New York to cover +2.5 and the under. 


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