What to Watch: NLL Week Nine

(Photo: Halifax Thunderbirds)

Welcome to week nine of the 2019-20 NLL season, Y’all! 

It’s not as much of a loaded week as last week was, but it’s not a light one either. Things get started on Friday with the New York Riptide taking on the Philadelphia Wings on the road. On Saturday, New York host San Diego, Buffalo travels to Colorado, and Halifax host Calgary. Week nine ends on Sunday when the Georgia Swarm travel to take on the New England Black Wolves. 

Philadelphia vs New York on Friday night will be the NLL Game of The Week, which can be viewed FREE of charge on Twitter, Facebook, and B/R Live.

Week Nine Storylines

How do the Riptide respond? 

The New York Riptide secured their first franchise win last Saturday, taking down the Georgia Swarm in overtime. Coming into week nine, where they have a back-to-back, it will be interesting to see how they respond after winning their first game. 

On Friday, they will play a strong Wings team that has looked pretty good thus far and on Saturday they will face a Seals team that has struggled out of the gate this season. While the Riptide should be able to, at least, compete with both teams given how they have improved and seemed to gel more each week, it will be crucial that they not lay an egg in either game. They need to come out strong and play a full 60-minutes of lacrosse.

Goaltender Battles

Last weekend saw some low scoring games for sure. And there could be a couple this weekend, as well, especially with some of the league’s best goalies going against each other. 

On Friday, Zach Higgins (Philadelphia) and Alex Buque (New York), who rank second and third in saves, will go head-to-head. And with three games on Saturday things really heat up. Veteran Matt Vinc (Buffalo) and Dillon Ward (Colorado), who leads the league in saves and is second in save percentage, go head-to-head and Halifax vs Calgary will feature will the league’s save percentage leader in Warren Hill (Halifax) and Christian Del Bianco (Calgary), who ranks sixth in the league in save percentage and fourth in saves. 

Also, Sunday’s matchup between Georgia and New England could be a good goalie battle, as well, with Doug Jamieson (New England) and Mike Poulin (Georgia) both playing pretty well at the moment. 

Can Georgia get back on track, knock off New England?

The Georgia Swarm are one of the best teams in the league, especially with an electric offense headlined by the likes of Lyle Thompson, Miles Thompson, Randy Staats, and others. However, the Swarm on currently on their longest losing streak since 2016 when they lost five straight games. 

Last weekend, they lost to New York, 13-12, in overtime on the road. Two weeks ago they lost to Buffalo 18-10 at home and two weeks prior they lost a home game, 13-11, against Colorado. And while they looked much better last weekend, they still need to do more if they want to get back on the right track, especially given they are facing an unbeaten New England. 

Georgia allowed a fourth-quarter comeback last weekend after going on a big run in the third and fourth. Against New England, Georgia has to play a full game and can’t take any shifts off at either end, as cliche as it sounds. Just like last weekend, if they can get their entire offense involved, instead of just a few guys carrying the load, this team has a chance to win. And also, Mike Poulin and that Swarm defense can’t let this New England offense, which is led by Callum Crawford, go on any big runs early. That has killed the Swarm in the past. 

The Alterna Cup 

For those who don’t know, the Alterna cup is a new in-season competition amongst the five Canadian franchises. And it’s based on head-to-head matchups. The winner of the cup will be announced at the end of the regular season. 

Only one Alterna Cup game has been played so far, and that was way back in week one between Calgary and Vancouver. The second game in the in-season competition will take place this weekend as the defending champions Calgary Roughnecks take on the 5-0 Halifax Thunderbirds. 

Learn more about the cup here.

Week Nine Schedule

Friday, January 24th

7:00 pm ET: New York@ Philadelphia

Saturday, January 25th

7:30pm ET: San Diego @ New York

9:30pm ET: Buffalo @ Colorado

9:30pm ET: Calgary @ Halifax

Sunday, January 26th

1:00pm ET: Georgia @ New England

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