The Minnesota Swarm finish up a long road trip as the face the Washington Stealth for the second time this season. The last time these teams met, the Swarm crushed the Stealth 15-7, leaving the Stealth with a bad taste in their mouths. Since that meeting, the Swarm have been good, but inconsistent, while the Stealth have been consistently bad.
Although, that game was missing Rhys Duch, an elite NLL scorer. What does that mean for tonight? It means the Swarm have another player to account for, and it just so happens that extra player is one of the biggest scoring threats in the league. Adding another dimension of scoring is always helpful, but adding a sniper is on a whole different level. If the Swarm do not take him seriously, they'll lose this one big.
Of course, the Swarm have plenty of scoring of their own, even after trading Jamie Shewchuk at the deadline for a third round pick. Ryan Benesch sits three goals from the 100 mark for his career and Callum Crawford is just one point behind Benesh. Factor in Kevin Ross and rookie Jordan MacIntosh adding 29 points each, and the Swarm have plenty of scoring to go around.
The Swarm defense was a bit soft against the Buffalo Bandits last week, and you can bet that Andrew Suitor is going to be fired up after being held without a point and racking up 24 PIMs. The D will be tasked with shutting down Duchs, who sits just two points behind Stealth team leader Lewis Ratcliff despite playing in two fewer games. If the Swarm defense can find a way to contain those two players, and shore up the transition game a bit, this game should be in hand.
It never seems to be that easy in the NLL, however, and whichever goaltender gets the start, Tyler Carlson or Evan Kirk, they will have their work cut out for them. Both goalies have been outstanding this season, and will need to be again tonight. The Swarm do not want to fall to .500 on the season, and a win would be a great way to lead into a return home this Friday.
The game can be seen on the NLL Network at 7PM.