A national audience was able to tune in to catch the most convincing victory of the year for the Buffalo Bandits.
The debut of the NLL on CBS Sports Network was a good one of the league and the Bandits. Mark Steenhuis had six points (3+3), Luke Wiles had seven (3+4) and John Tavares had eight (4+4) as Buffalo cruised to a 17-7 victory over Philadelphia.
The real story was the near flawless effort the Bandits defense put together. It has been a rough season for the Bandits, defensively. Mike Thompson has had his ups and downs and Anthony Cosmo has struggled to settle in since being acquired via trade. However, things came together last night for Darris Kilgour’s squad. Cosmo was phenomenal for the entire game and the defense, as a unit, kept most of the Wings’ shots well to the outside.
“Our defense was great tonight, great slides and movement,” Luke Wiles said. “[Cosmo’s] a great goalie and there are teams in the league that are scared of us because we have him in our net.”
There were a number of easy saves that Cosmo made on the night. However, there were plenty of dazzlers as well. That includes a pipe-to-pipe stop in the third quarter that goes down as one of the most impressive saves I’ve seen made on an indoor lacrosse field.
If Cosmo’s game is on the upswing, the Bandits could become a very scary team to play against. As they stand now, their still in a dogfight to avoid losing out in the new crossover system installed for this season. However, they have started to find some more goal scoring (outside of last weekend) and the defense very well may be coming around.
CBS Sports Debut
Last year’s run on VERSUS was good for the league. It was unfortunate that most of those games were tape delay. The new deal with CBS Sports Network calls for live broadcasts. That is an immediate improvement.
Other improvements? There are many. The play-by-play team is strong, but much different that the veteran talent of Brian Duff and Brian Shanahan. Of course, that isn’t necessarily a fair comparison for Brent Stover and the Powell brothers. The new crew doesn’t have the same type of experience or rapport. However, they will get there. I do like the new crew because it is a fresh look and I see the approach CBS was looking for. CBS certainly gets a win for their production quality, it was a great looking broadcast and I was happy to be a part of it.
Game of Runs
One thing the Bandits have missed this season is the ability to sustain runs. Last night, Buffalo had two separate runs of five goals and three goals. That was a big part of their 6-2 first quarter lead and 12-6 first half lead. The Bandits need to find a way to pick up runs the rest of the season. They struggled defensively and with runs on the year, if they find success in those departments, I think they will be a dangerous playoff team.
Last week, the Bandits allowed one player to record a point on ALL 15 Toronto goals. Keeping their opponents stars quiet has been a battle all year. In fact, Kevin Crowley and Dan Dawson went off the last time they were in Buffalo. It was not so last night. Crowley and Dawson combined for just four assists on the night. A phenomenal performance by the Bandits as a team on the defensive side.