National Lacrosse League: Can the Buffalo Bandits Make the Playoffs?

Jim Flannery@@calgaryjimboAnalyst IApril 12, 2013


The Buffalo Bandits are in trouble.

After getting off to a solid 5-3 start, Buffalo has dropped six straight games and are now sitting in dead last in the NLL at 5-9. As the ninth-best team in a league of nine, they are the sole team currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

With just two games remaining on the regular season schedule, the question is: can the Bandits get back on track and find a way into the postseason?

At this exact moment, it doesn't look good.

On their losing skid, the Bandits haven't just been losing; they've been getting killed. Following a heartbreaking 11-10 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Wings on March 1, the margin of defeat in the five subsequent losses has been 7.4 goals.

Rock bottom came last weekend against the Minnesota Swarm when Buffalo lost by a whopping 14 goals in a 21-7 massacre, the worst loss in Bandits history. Buffalo played without composure, giving up eight short-handed goals and were outscored 11-2 in the second half.

One of the many issues the Bandits have been dealing with is injuries.

John Tavares missed four games earlier this year, rookie Carter Bender is currently stuck on Injured Reserve along with veterans Chad Culp and Tracey Kelusky. Rookie Dhane Smith—who is leading the Bandits in goals scored with 20—missed last week's game due to a shoulder injury.

Another issue has been the goaltending.

Although No. 1 netminder Anthony Cosmo got off to a decent start, he simply hasn't been getting it done recently. The Bandits have been giving up 15.3 goals per game during the losing streak and Cosmo has been between the pipes for most of it. 

If Buffalo hopes to reverse their fortunes, they need everyone on the squad to step up and get the job done. While there have been some bright spots, like the performances of Shawn Williams (a team-leading 57 points) and Jay Thorimbert (third in the NLL in loose balls with 155 and second in faceoff wins, with 231), they need a complete team effort to earn wins in these next two critical games.

The challenge begins on Saturday when they take on a very tough Washington Stealth squad in Everett and then concludes next weekend at home against the Rochester Knighthawks.


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