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.
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.