Did you have a good holiday? Enjoy time with family and friends? Open up gifts and eat well? Good. Now forget about all that because we have some Swarm lacrosse going on tonight.
It’s the first road game of the 2018-19 season for the Georgia Swarm, and it’ll be at newly-named Scotiabank Arena against the Toronto Rock. While the Swarm had the bye week last weekend, the Rock played on Saturday, earning their first win of the season with a dominant comeback performance. As of now, the two teams are in first place in the East Division. After tonight, only one will be in first. Who will it be?
If the Swarm had their way, it’d be them. And you have to like the team’s odds if you look at…
The Swarm and Rock met three times in 2017-18. Long story short, Georgia won all of those games, outscoring Toronto 37-30. Between the pipes, it was mostly Mike Poulin and Nick Rose, and here’s how they looked over those three games:
On the other end of the floor, Lyle Thompson led the Swarm in points against the Rock with 14 (8G, 6A), followed by Shayne Jackson (4G, 7A) and Randy Staats (2G, 9A) with 11 each. For the Rock, it’s Rob Hellyer who’s most effective against the Swarm, posting 12 points (3G, 9A) in those three games. Adam Jones had 10 points (4G, 6A) during that same span. Reid Reinholdt did some damage against Georgia last season, too (3G, 6A), but he’s on the PUP list after tearing his ACL over the summer.
Historical evidence is our best tool for analyzing a team and take an educated guess as to how the opponent will perform. But for a new season, you kind of have to…
FORGET THE PAST
That’s right, none of what we just went over matters.
It’s a new season, and both teams went through some changes to the roster following the Expansion and Entry Drafts. Offensively, they look pretty similar to last season’s iterations (except for one player the Swarm didn’t get to see in 2017-18; more on that later). The Rock acquired former Swarm forward Johnny Powless from the Black Wolves over the offseason and Jay Thorimbert after he was released by the same team following Training Camp. Toronto features two rookies: Alec Tulett, a defenseman who was picked in the fourth round (No. 35 overall) of the 2017 Entry Draft, and Adam Jay, another defenseman picked in the fourth round (No. 32 overall) in the 2016 Entry Draft. Tulett saw playing time in the Rock’s game last Saturday.
The Swarm have their new rookies (three of whom debuted in the Swarm’s Home Opener) on the defensive side of things – Brendan Bomberry, Matt Dunn, Joel Tinney and Adam Wiedemann. As he demonstrated in the Home Opener, Tinney can play some offense if needed, joining the lefties with newcomer Holden Cattoni.
Playing wherever the coaches need him to | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
The Rock get to unsheathe a weapon against the Swarm that they couldn’t last season, one…
The 2017 NLL ROY missed all three matchups with the Swarm due to a lower-body injury during the middle of the 2017-18 season. He played Georgia twice as a rookie, recording 11 points (2G, 9A) and an 8.7 S% in that span.
While his shot against the Swarm wasn’t great in 2017, Schreiber still recorded 94 points in his rookie season. He then posted 64 points (25G, 39A) and a 15.5 S% over 11 games last season. That’s 5.82 PTS/GAME, 2.27 GF/GAME and 3.55 AF/GAME. Had he been healthy all last season and maintained those paces, Schreiber could have finished with 105 points (41G, 64A). That’s MVP-caliber right there.
Schreiber’s off to a good start this season, too. He had a team-high seven points (3G, 4A) against the Bandits last Saturday. Time will tell how great a game he has tonight in his own barn. Unfortunately for him and the Rock, Scotiabank Arena is the Swarm’s…
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
As established earlier, Georgia and Toronto have met in the regular season seven times during the last three seasons. The Swarm are 6-1, having outscored the Rock 93-78. That comes out to a 13.29 GF/GAME and 11.14 GA/GAME.
The Rock tend to play tougher at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino at Infinite Energy Arena for whatever reason. In four games, they have their only win there and have only been outscored by six goals. Georgia’s GF/GAME and GA/GAME at home against Toronto is only 12.00 and 10.50 respectively.
Georgia plays much better in Toronto. They have three road wins, a +9 goal differential, and a 15.00 GF/GAME and 12.00 GA/GAME in Scotiabank Arena.
At individual levels, things get better. Across those three road games, Miles Thompson has 13 points (7G, 6A) and Jackson has 18 points (9G, 9A). Lyle has 23 points (6G, 17A), 22 LB and three CTO. Poulin has only played two games there, but his 19 GA in 120:46 min. comes out to a 9.44 GAA to go along with his .835 SV%.
Es fuego | Photo by Ryan McCullough
As a funny aside, the game scores have gone from 20-17 to 13-12 to 12-7. Both teams’ numbers have gone down since that first game in 2016, but the Rock has consistently dropped down five goals each game. Is that a sign that they will only score two goals tonight?
Of course not; don’t be silly. These teams are too good to not score. Chances are high this will be a close game (typical of bouts between the two), and everything may very well come down to…
In 2017-18, the Swarm finished last in the league in power play efficiency, converting only 34.25% of opportunities. In the Home Opener, the Swarm went 2-for-6, a 33.33% success rate. Their opponent, the Black Wolves, were also 2-for-6 on the man-up, meaning the Swarm were 66.67% successful at killing penalties.
The Rock weren’t much better in 2017-18, only scoring on 36% of all man-up situations. But last Saturday, the Swarm’s East Division rival was perfect, scoring four PPG on three penalties (one was a five-minute major, and the player who commits that penalty sits in the box for either five minutes or two goals, whichever comes first). They also killed 60% of the Bandits’ power play opportunities.
Both teams started their games off rough, as well. Toronto’s first four penalties all came in the first quarter, three for illegal cross checking. That got cleaned up from there, and the Rock were able to storm back and win handily. For Georgia, they had three illegal substitution bench minor penalties, an area they rectified with a quickness that same game.
Point being, we’re still dealing with small sample sizes. Both teams had areas to work on at the beginning of their games and did so to emerge with their first victories of the season. But small sample size aside, you can’t completely ignore one team only cashing in on a third of all opportunities and another being perfect when man-up.
Time will tell how big of a factor special teams are in tonight’s game. Until then, get ready to watch it on B/R Live and tune in for what is sure to be a fantastic game.
Cellies galore | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess