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PLL Power Rankings: Atlas on top, Denver makes a statement

Now that everyone has played at least one game, we can start assigning ratings like “the best” and “the worst” - and literally nothing in between - to every team in the PLL. That is to say, we can start the weekly power rankings. The difference between being the class of the league and missing the playoffs is not a lot. Every roster is a world class roster, it comes down to a few plays each week, staying healthy, and executing consistently. Not easy to do. I use this as a qualifier to say if your favorite team is at the bottom now, don’t be sad. They might not be there for a long. And if your favorite team is at the top, don’t gloat, it’ll come back to bite you quickly. The first batch of PLL power rankings:

1. New York Atlas (3-0)

The league’s only undefeated team, New York has been on fire out of the gates. They are drastically improved in the :32 second clock (read more about it here), and their transition defense is vastly improved. Save some of the credit for the Atlas sideline. The staff is managing sub patterns and situations much better in the early going this year, getting their personnel on and off the field much quicker and before the opponent can press an advantage. Jeff Teat and Connor Shellenberger continue to find teammates for high percentage looks. The Atlas 3-0 record is all the more impressive considering two of their wins are against the Cannons and Chaos, the next two teams in this week’s ranking. New York takes on California this weekend.

2. Boston Cannons (1-1)

After getting smacked around by the Atlas week one, the Cannons bounced back with a dominant win against Maryland. They held the whips scoreless for over 22 minutes of game time. A defense that looked to be feeling some growing pains with new personnel, no Jack Kielty, and a new DC in Kyle Hartzel, looked like a unit that had been together for years. Garrett Epple was dominant, causing four turnovers. The Cannons used Zac Tucci, their first time dressing a faceoff man in about 11 months, and he went just under 50/50 against Joe Nardella. It’s the Waterdogs next, Tucci should stay in the lineup for that game.

3. Carolina Chaos (2-1)

The week two homecoming squad, Carolina split their homestand games against California and New York. The much discussed change in philosophy for the Chaos has been on display through three games, and it’s already clear where their advantage lies. Once built on box players and two man games, now, this offense is built like Ricky Bobby. It wants to go fast. Shane Knobloch and Ross Scott are lightning in a bottle, Brian Minicus and Jules Heningburg are explosive change of direction players, Josh Byrne is a top three attackman in the world. Kyle Jackson gets a nice boost from it too, as more players with that skillset create space for the rest of the offense. Speaking of space. Sergio Perkovic is enjoying it. He looks reborn as a complimentary piece, hunting spots for step downs instead of forcing the issue off the dodge. Austin Kaut has been over 50% and in double digit saves in all three appearances in place of the injured Blaze Riorden. This week it’s a big test as they take on Utah.

Denver Outlaws (1-1)

Amazing what a “I’ll tell my kids about this” type performance from Brennan O’Neill can do for you. Denver announced to the league they have a player who can wreck a game. Mike Tyson famously said everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. In the PLL that fist looks like Brennan O’Neill. His 4th quarter performance of seven points, including the OT game winner, was enough to make anyone fall in love with the sport.

5. Utah Archers (1-1)

Someone had to be on the wrong end of the Brennan O’Neill break out, and unfortunately it was the Archers. They held a 7-1 lead and a 14-7 lead in their game this week, neither were enough. The defense is figuring things out, with the new personnel. Warren Jeffrey has been fine, Brett Dobson has bailed out the group each game a few times, and their short stick unit remains outstanding. The other pieces are still meshing. Colby Barsz had a decent game in his home town, and I’m still high on Mason Woodward. They have the best DC in the business calling the shots, they’ll be fine. On the offensive end, healthy Grant Ament in the midfield has been deadly. He’s the team’s highest scoring midfielder. Schreiber will always get a pole, you have to pole all the Archers attackman, Ament may see his fair share of shorties. A scary thought. He was frying shorties against Denver.

6. Philadelphia Waterdogs (0-1)

Philly only has one game worth of action under their belt, but they are the homecoming squad this weekend. A doubleheader is on tap, with Boston and Maryland on the schedule. Philly got out to a bad start in their opener against Utah, but really didn’t play that badly. They scored the game’s last seven goals and held the Archers scoreless for the game’s final 15:47 of game clock. Not easy to do. They also ran into a red hot Brett Dobson who made 23 stops. The Waterdogs are too well constructed a team to be worried about. The one place they’ve had a problem in the past is staying healthy. The double header after a bye week is big for them, they can come in fresh and hopefully get through unscathed.

7. California Redwoods (0-1)

Woods had the somewhat awkward experience of having a week one bye. It means they’re healthy, it means they get preparation time, but they don’t get the game experience that a team with a lot of new faces really needs. I think the Woods offense looked pretty solid against the Chaos. You could see a lot of what they want to do. Wes Berg is masterful and picking help defenders and clogging the middle, which allows players like Rob Pannell to find seems to Garrett Degnon, Romar Dennis, Charlie Bertrand, and the big midfield. It’s a nice design. And if you cheat away from Berg to make it easier, well then you’ve left Wes Berg open and good luck with that. Redwoods defense had a bad matchup week one, this week it’s the Atlas which actually may be better for them.

8. Maryland Whipsnakes (0-2)

Whips sit at the bottom of the division and overall standings, and have the league’s worst goal differential. It’s a team in flux, dealing with the retirement of some all time great players, and their top dodging middie from a year ago hasn’t played yet. They have a star in the making on offense in TJ Malone, who is already the team’s top scorer. Zupicich is a star in the making at LSM, he’s already seized the job. Zappitello is adjusting a bit to PLL dodgers, but he looks like he’ll be more than fine. The Whips need to get Dordevic back to unlock a lot of their offense.


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