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Swarm Mailbag: Sides, Uniform Colors, Defensive Reality

A game followed by a bye week is the norm for the Swarm in the beginning of their 2019-20 season, but it gives us ample time to answer questions in the latest iteration of the Swarm Mailbag.

The Swarm let the good times roll with a 12-6 win against the Philadelphia Wings. Stellar defense was the name of the game again, and while it’s still early and the Swarm’s first two games of the season were against an expansion team and a sophomore club playing in its first game of the season, you have to like what you’ve seen from the Swarm out the back door.

So let’s get right to the mail. Please note all opinions here are my own unless specified otherwise.

Thomas T. from Doraville, GA 

Why do you say right side when the left-handed players are on the right side of the floor staring at the goalie?

When someone references “right side” or “left side,” they make that reference from the goalie’s orientation, staring towards the mid-floor. Everything to a goaltender’s right is the right side, to their left is the left side.

I know that can be confusing, especially since we sometimes see the broadcast feed aiming towards the goalie’s front, and it does make some sense calling where the righties stand the left side and the lefties the right side, but you won’t find any professional address it that way.

It’s also easier because your lefties are on the left side and righties on the right side.

Jeffrey F. from Alto, GA

How do the Georgia Swarm and the NLL determine which teams wear which uniform? As a side note, is it true that the Swarm are the only NLL team with no white uniform at all?

Teams are required to have a dark and light uniform, and the NLL can direct a club to produce a white uniform and wear it at away games. It’s typically decided before a season which color a team should wear at home versus on the road.

Blues at home, yellows on the road | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess

As far as the white uniform question, the Swarm are not the only team to not have a white uniform. The San Diego Seals alternate is black and grey – originally it was a very light grey with purple shoulders. The New England Black Wolves are wearing an orange uni on the road this season, an alternate they rolled out last year instead of their whites.

Brad H. from Marietta, GA

How realistic is it for the Swarm defense to continue playing this well? It looks like they can do no wrong right now.

So let’s consider a few things for this:

  • The Swarm defense had Jordan MacIntosh and Joel White as the healthy scratches in the first game of the season and held the expansion Rochester Knighthawks to just four goals.
  • MacIntosh and White slotted in for the Swarm’s Home Opener, and Matt Dunn and Ryan MacSpadyen were the healthy scratches instead.
  • The Philadelphia Wings had the fourth best offense in 2018-19 and returned most of their forwards. Even with it being their first game, this is a team that could and should put up 12, 13 goals easily.

In a realistic world, the Swarm played an expansion team that has not gelled together yet and a Wings team that had to shake off the offseason rust. The Swarm defense is playing well, but two games is still a small sample size at the end of the day, and the opponents only get tougher from here.

However, let me counter with three facts:

  • Mike Poulin is playing out of his mind. I argue that the defense against Rochester was the bigger factor in the Swarm’s win, but Poulin still played well. He was even better against Philly. His 4.33 GAA and .911 SV% are not sustainable over the course of a season, but…
  • The Swarm defense is executing phenomenally in front of Poulin. The penalty kill unit has stopped 10 of the 12 man-advantage chances Rochester and Philadelphia have had. Guys are getting in lanes, disrupting passes, and forcing the shots to come where they want them to come.
  • MacIntosh said it in his postgame speech awarding game balls to Poulin and Ed Comeau – he has never been more prepared in his life for opponents. The prep work the Swarm coaches are doing with the players is huge, and the fact that guys are executing it as well as they are is a testament to their abilities, intelligence, and buy-in of the Swarm’s systems.

I know this answer is getting long, but one more thing worth pointing out: Dunn and MacSpadyen were the healthy scratches. If they had played, I doubt we would have seen a lesser defensive effort from the Swarm. The Swarm are now in an enviable position where they can rotate who are the healthy scratches, keeping guys fresh throughout the season and getting them important experience. When the Swarm pulled Poulin in the Season Opener, it was because of the goal differential and because Kevin Orleman needs more big league experience. Records are cool and all, but they don’t win championships. Getting those pro reps in now is going to serve the Swarm much better later in the season.

And that’s where the Swarm are at now. They need to prep for the next game and focus entirely on that, but they also have a bit of a luxury on hand where they can get rookies the reps they need to develop and rest guys for the long haul.

As I just detailed, it takes a lot for a defense to play as well as the Swarm have. It’s not realistic to expect them to hold every opponent to single digits for an entire 18-game season. That being said, you have to like what the Swarm defense has ably displayed. The keys are there for this team to be one of the best defensive teams in the NLL this season, and we should enjoy how much of a pleasure it has been to watch them dominate so far this season.

The Swarm return to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Field at Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday, Dec. 28 to welcome the Colorado Mammoth (0-1). Face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.

The Swarm are celebrating Family Night, getting into the holiday spirit with an evening full of special offers, entertainment, and a celebration of this special time of year. Tickets are available by visiting GeorgiaSwarm.com/FamilyNight or by calling 844-4-GASWARM.

Fans in the Metro Atlanta area can also catch the game live on Atlanta’s CW69 or over the radio on the Atlanta Sports X 1230AM/106.3FM.

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