Bandits into postseason on heels of Steenhuis’ big week

The Buffalo Bandits will be playing the post season thanks to another victory on national television.

Buffalo’s 14-9 victory over Rochester was powered by a tremendous effort by Anthony Cosmo in goal and the NLL’s newest Player of the Week, Mark Steenhuis.

Photo courtesty: Buffalo Bandits

Steenhuis led all players with eight points (4+4) as he helped clinch a playoff spot for the Bandits. The former Transition Player of the Year (2008) has improved his offensive output in recent weeks and has put him on pace for a strong showing offensively this season. This is of particular importance considering the regression he had over the past two years.

The Bandits still have a chance to improve their standing in the NLL’s East Division as the playoffs draw near, but they will be playing on the road in the first round no matter what. Saturday’s game in Washington will be nothing more than a warmup for next week’s first round playoff game.

In addition to Steenhuis’ big effort, the Bandits defense locked down and stifled the usually high-octant Knighthawks offense last Saturday. Anthony Cosmo was superb in goal and enjoyed an evening of long, outside shots and only a handful of high-quality chances. He was capable of turning aside most of the Knighthawks’ best chances.

Cosmo was part of a larger defensive effort that saw the Bandits hold the Rochester to only two goals in the first half and many long scoreless stretches. That includes a drought of 16 minutes without a goal. From 11:54 of the second quarter until 12:45 of the third quarter and 11:26 of the third to 8:46 of the fourth quarter were the two longest droughts for Rochester. Buffalo made the Knighthawks pay, piecing together a number of lengthy runs, something they have struggled with this season.

The only missing puzzle piece on Saturday was John Tavares. For the first time in pretty much forever, Tavares did not factor in the goal scoring for the Bandits and only registered two assists. A good natured Darris Kilgour brushed off his stats, saying that he simply needs to shoot more. Continue reading

Bandits Shootaround: Rebound needed against Stealth

Two-straight losses are staring the Bandits in the face. After two strong outings to open the season, the Bandits have dropped two in a row and have shown some different weaknesses during the stretch.

Buffalo gets a chance at redemption against a West Division rival at First Niagara Center this evening. The Bandits host the 2011 NLL runner-up, Washington Stealth. The Stealth are going through their own struggles, they are 0-3 and have averaged just eight goals per game this season.

The East Division standings are far tighter than the West, where Colorado has jumped to a commanding lead. With a Philadelphia loss and a Buffalo win this evening, the Bandits would be tied for the Division lead. Of course, the Wings would be just a half game back of the Bandits and Toronto Rock – who would be tied for first. Continue reading

Bandits shootaround: Swarm home opener pivotal for Buffalo

Last night’s loss to Philadelphia was the first of the season for Buffalo. The loss also dropped the Bandits into a tie for first in the East Division. The tie in the standings makes tonight’s game in Minnesota that much more important.

The Swarm opened their season on the road on January 14 in Colorado. Minnesota has not played since their 20-14 loss on opening weekend. So, the Bandits face a rested opponent this evening in their home opener – albeit a rested opponent who has not seen game action in nearly two weeks.

Buffalo fell victim to sloppy passing and poor ball control last night at home. A handful of questionable goals against dug the hole deeper in the eventual loss. Last night’s game was also the first in which Darris Kilgour made changes to his lineup. Tom Montour and Frank Resetarits each saw their first action of the year while Jimmy Purves and Mat Giles watched from the press box. Given when Giles brought to the table in the first two games, I would have to think he will be back in the lineup for Resetarits this evening. The only other anticipated lineup change would likely come in goal; but with the need to keep their grasp on first, I think you will see Mike Thompson again.

Crease Crashing

Mike Thompson had a tough outing last night. He had a few tough goals beat him, but he owned that fact. He is a gamer and will certainly come to play tonight. There is a chance you see Angus Goodleaf rather than Thompson, depending on the schedule Kilgour put together. Taking last night’s loss into account, I go with Thompson in what looks a little like a must-win situation.

Nick Patterson was in a shooting gallery during his first contest this season. He faced 50 shots that night, turning aside 30. He is a fairly active goalie who has similar strengths to Brandon Miller – who shutdown the Bandits shooters last night. Last year the Bandits beat him with movement and rotation. They didn’t have much of that last night, hopefully that changes this evening.

Rested or Rusty

The Swarm haven’t played since January 14. That is a full two-week for those scoring at home. They certainly saw time together in practice since, but have not had game action. If the Swarm can get out to a good start, their legs will likely carry them to a win. There is also the chance that the layoff will take some time to shake loose. It could certainly go either way. The fact that Buffalo is coming off a game should only help Minnesota, however.

Spread the Scoring

Only two Bandits had four points yesterday – Mark Steenhuis and Chad Culp (2+2). In the first two wins there were multiple scorers with four or more points, namely John Tavares (16 points in two games). Buffalo’s offense was somewhat stagnant last night, with many shots coming from outside angles. Not only do the Bandits need to exploit the motion their offense can create to capitalize on chances.

Bandits postgame: Fourth quarter meltdown dooms result

What should have stood out as the stat of the night ended up being nothing more than an afterthought for the Buffalo Bandits. A stingy third quarter effort was wasted as the Bandits gave up six fourth quarter goals in a 13-10 loss to Philadelphia.

After a see-saw first half, the Bandits defense clamped down in the third quarter. Buffalo shut out the Wings for the duration of the third and scored two of their own to take a 9-7 lead into the fourth. The Bandits actually held Philadelphia scoreless for 26:04 between the second and fourth quarters.

We didn’t play our best game, that’s disappointing. We had our chances, we could have gone up by three or four goals and it might have been a different game.  ~ Darris Kilgour

The fourth quarter was a different story. Pat Heim scored 2:59 seconds into the stanza and Drew Westervelt added the game-tying goal just 18 seconds later. Westervelt finished with seven points (3+4). Buffalo did not recover from the turnaround, getting outscored 6-1 in the final quarter. Continue reading

Bandits postgame: Tavares, defense shine as Bandits overpower Knighthawks

Just another day at the office for John Tavares. In two games the ageless wonder has sixteen points (6+10) for the 2-0 Bandits.

Tavares’ latest show came at Blue Cross Arena where he put up a four-goal, four-assist clinic against Buffalo’s I-90 rivals. Buffalo won the contest 12-9 after pulling away thanks to a late 7-1 run. It was a well-executed win for the Bandits who were able to keep the Knighthawks from running wild. Avoiding a run-and-gun game was key for the Bandits.

Just like in week one, the offense made the plays, but defensively, the Bandits were stellar. Mike Thompson made 31 saves on 40 shots, backing up a stellar performance from the week before. Buffalo’s defense held the young Rochester scorers in check. Only Cody Jamieson (three) and Stephen Keogh (two) scored more than once and the offense that produced 22 goals the week before didn’t break double digits against the stingy Buffalo defense.

Darris Kilgour’s deep bench flexed their muscles again this week. Roger Vyse – who was a healthy scratch last week – had a pair of goals and an assist while Mark Steehuis and Chad Clup each scored a pair too. Luke Wiles looks more and more like a brilliant acquisition. He added six more points (2+4) to his efforts from week one (3+1 vs. Toronto). Continue reading