When Randy Staats has a good game, you don’t always see the full story in the final boxscore.
The Six Nations, Ontario native led the Swarm in its Home Opener with eight points (2G, 6A). Arguably the most impressive facet of his game last Saturday was how five of his six assists were primary ones.
But not all assists are created equal. Since the NLL defines an assist as “(a)ny pass or two passes, by a player or players, to a teammate who then scores a goal is an assisted goal,” that means a player can get an assist for a goal that he’s not really involved in just because he passed it to the eventual goal-scorer.
So how do we determine how impactful Staats’ dishes were on Saturday? The eye-test.
When evaluating how effective a player has been offensively, there are a number of intangibles we can’t properly value numerically — think setting picks, sealing an opponent, or operating as a screen. Along with a player’s floor vision, that’s generally the things we’re looking at when breaking down a play.
Applying those factors to Staats’ work on Saturday is telling. The 26-year-old’s lone secondary assist of the night came on Georgia’s second power play goal, and it was Miles Thompson’s 100th career goal.
Ball movement is always good as it spreads a defense around. Adam Bomberry stretched a little too far into Greg Downing’s zone in the penalty kill formation, which Lyle Thompson saw and took advantage of with his off-ball pass to Miles. There’s not necessarily a rating system I am aware of as far as how impactful a player’s assist was to the goal being scored, but it’s safe to say Staats did have a small hand in Miles’ goal if only because he drew the overzealous defensemen towards him and moved the ball around.
For his five primary assists, let’s break them down individually to help decide how important his efforts were and learn some life lessons simultaneously:
- 1st Swarm goal, assisting Shayne Jackson (5:15 1st): Jackson was cutting in through the defense’s gap in the high slot on the left side. Staats saw him and made a perfect pass through traffic for Jackson to eventually net. Moral of the story: don’t give Jackson that much of an alley to run through.
- 8th Swarm goal, assisting Zed Williams (7:34 3rd): The important part of this assist was more what Staats did after he gave Williams the ball. Staats pinned himself to Joel Coyle’s arms, an off-ball seal on the sliding defender. This seals Coyle’s stick and gives Williams space to wind up and rocket the ball into the goal. Moral of the story: don’t give Williams that much room to wind up.
- 13th Swarm goal, assisting Lyle (9:33 4th): Staats is in the right corner, receives a pass from Miles, sees Lyle cutting a step ahead of David Brock through the middle, and makes another perfect pass. Moral of the story: don’t give Lyle any breathing room.
- 14th Swarm goal, assisting Lyle (9:50 4th): Staats hands the ball off to Lyle as the offense and defense are getting set, all Lyle with that farside changeup. Moral of the story: what did I just say about giving Lyle any breathing room?
- 15th Swarm goal, assisting Holden Cattoni (13:06 4th): Brendan Bomberry doesn’t take advantage of the empty net and makes a bounce pass to Staats. Staats sees he has Coyle in front of him and immediately flips it to Cattoni, who’s near the crease and more open. Cattoni pumps some fakes and scores. Moral of the story: this offense doesn’t need an empty net to score.
Out of his five primary assists, only one really didn’t need Staats, and that was Lyle’s second goal. Staats’ night was made up of crisp and timely passing via great floor vision and using his body to create an opportunity for Williams to score. To have a night where four of your primary assists are very dependent upon you is great.
It’s small sample sizes for right now since we only have a game under our belt, but you have to like what Staats did in that one game since it’s typical of what he does every game.
When I spoke with assistant coach Dan Ladouceur a few months back about Staats, he remarked, “(E)ven when he’s not scoring points for us, he’s doing good things like setting big picks out there, setting great seals for Lyle to come around and for (former Swarm forward) Kiel Matisz to move. Even though it’s not showing up in the score sheet, which traditionally a goal-scorer is going to measure himself by, he’s doing great things.”
Staats doing great things meant he was involved in half of Georgia’s goals on Saturday. That’s the kind of production throughout a season which can result in some new career highs.
The Swarm’s next home game is Saturday, Jan. 5 against the Vancouver Warriors. Hosting Country Night presented by Georgia Lottery, multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Jerrod Niemann will perform a halftime and postgame concert in the Swarm’s Goal Zone Club. Early arriving fans will receive Swarm cowbells presented by Georgia Lottery.
Lower Level Tickets to Swarm Country Night featuring Jerrod Niemann start as low as $25 and can be purchased online at GeorgiaSwarm.com/CountryNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.