(Photo Courtesy of Halifax Thunderbirds)
Welcome to Week two of the 2019-20 NLL season, Y’all.
Again, just six teams will suit up and take the floor this weekend in the second week of the season. Just like Week one, some fireworks are to be expected in all three games this weekend- which will all be played on Saturday night. BOO! New York will travel to Halifax, Toronto will host New England, and San Diego will be traveling to Buffalo.
Remember, ALL games for this weekend can be watched for FREE on Bleacher Report (B/R) Live. Starting with Week three you will have to buy a subscription.
Week Two Storylines
Halifax and New York Make Their Debuts
Saturday night presents itself as a marquee nigh in NLL history. The NLL officially arrives in Halifax with the Thunderbirds season and home opener, and the New York Riptide will be facing the Thunderbirds in their first-ever game as a franchise.
While it will be a game of first for both franchises, the game also marks the NLL’s entrance into the Halifax market. Something that Commissioner Nick Sakewicz has been chasing for a few years now. The NLL being the first professional sport to come to Halifax is monumental and many expect the fan support to be very similar to Saskatchewan.
On the floor, this game will be interesting, to say the least. Hopefully, it isn’t like the expansion Rochester Knightahwks debut last week, but there is a similar storyline coming into the game with Halifax being much more familiar with each other than New York.
Dan Dawson’s Debut With Toronto
One of the biggest pieces of free agent news this summer was Toronto signing veteran forward Dan Dawson. The veteran had a bounce-back year last season with San Diego and looks to help this Toronto offense sustain the success they have had over the past few seasons, despite their expansion draft losses.
The 18-year veteran has been seemingly ageless, etching his name into the NLL Record books. Dawson currently sits second in all-time games played with 287, fifth in goals with 509, and third in assists with 887.
While some do speculate if Dawson can replicate the 88-point season he had with San Diego last season, others are more optimistic as to what he can bring to the table, even as an 18-year veteran.
No matter what, it will be quite fun to see Dawson playing alongside the liked of Tom Schreiber, Adam Jones, Rob Hellyer, and others. The sheer talent on that offense has to give defenses across the league a scare, especially when they are all 100% healthy.
Perhaps no two teams are as decimated as Buffalo and San Diego coming into their season opener. Buffalo will be without forward Thomas Hoggarth for transition player Ethan O’Connor for the season. San Diego will be missing 2019 Rookie of The Year winner Austin Staats as he continues to rehab from a season-ending ACL injury late last season.
On paper, Buffalo looks the most hurt by injuries with two guys out for the season but they do have a ton of depth to rely on. The big thing for them will be filling Hoggarth’s role and getting used to playing as a unit without him after his breakout 2019 season. And yes, they still have Dhane Smith, Corey Small, Josh Byrne coming out the front door and that is scary enough.
San Diego is in a similar situation as they will have to figure out how to cope without Staats for the time being. When Staats will return has not been announced, but it likely won’t be in the early portion of the season. Also, they have to figure out how to fit Wes Berg into their system after acquiring him this offseason. Honestly, there are just a ton of questions surrounding both teams, and for the most part, they surround the offenses.
Week Two Schedule
6:00pm ET: New York @ Halifax
7:00pm ET: New England @ Toronto
7:00pm ET: San Diego @ Buffalo
As previously mentioned, ALL games for the first TWO weekends of the NLL season can be watched for FREE on Bleacher Report (B/R) Live.