It took only 14 days for the Bandits to go from first to worst in the NLL East Division. Technically the Bandits are ahead of the Rochester Knighthawks by virtue of a tiebreaker, but they are still 2-3 and a full game behind the Toronto Rock for the division lead.
The Bandits recent slide is more of a testament to the parity in the NLL rather than Buffalo’s shortcomings. From top to bottom, every team has a handful of gamebreaking players which makes winning on a consistent basis a chore.
Last nights loss was the third different way the Bandits have managed to lose this season. After losing composure against Minnesota last Saturday and leaving goals on the table against Philly, the Bandits failed to capitalize on their second half momentum last night. They also let one of the league’s most dangerous goal scorers loose for the overtime game winner.
There was only one guy who we didn’t want to have the ball in the end. But for a young guy, Rhys Duch keeps doing it again and again. ~ Luke Wiles
To their credit, the Bandits showed some moxie in the second half. Coming back to tie after trailing by two goals after 30 minutes. Buffalo outscored Washington 5-3 in the third and fourth quarters, but failed to find the deciding tally late in the game.
Duch’s game winning goal was one of his eight points (4+4) on the night. It marked the third-straight game a player has gone off for big points against a typically stingy Bandits defense. Rich Kilgour commented on that issue and it appears it may be something that the defensive game plan sees added in the coming weeks.
The Bandits will be away from First Niagara Center until March 3 when they face the NLL’s hottest team, the Colorado Mammoth. Buffalo travels to Philadelphia next week before getting a week off for the NLL All-Star game on the 25th.
- Mike Thompson’s play remains perplexing. He made some clutch saves for the Bandits throughout the game, but yet again yielded some bad goals. Two were of particular concern because they were uncontested, outside shots. His performance in the first two weeks was stellar, his last two starts have not been as impressive.
- Mark Steenhuis’ increased defensive role is to bring some expected changes to his game. However, he was once a dominant force at both ends of the floor. However, he no longer appears to be the consistent 30-goal scorer who was a gamebreaker for this team. While 2009 may have been an anomaly, he scored goals with ease, that lack of talent is evident when watching the Bandits offense.
- Luke Wiles and John Tavares are still enjoying excellent season’s. The lack of consistent offense from Tracey Kelusky is somewhat concerning, as is the play of Kevin Buchanan. Buffalo has been able to score goals at a steady rate this season, however they lack the ability to go on lengthy runs.
- Billy Dee Smith had a great game defensively, but he lost coverage on Duch’s game winning goal. Regardless of the lost coverage, Smith’s presence has been obvious for the Bandits this year.