MLL At the Break: New York Lizards

After defeating the Ohio Machine last week, the Lizards have a bye this weekend to rest up before taking on the Boston Cannons next Friday, May 30 at home in Hempstead.

At 2-2 overall the Lizards sit tied for third place in the Major League Lacrosse League behind Boston, Florida and Denver.

Former 2013 Cascade Rookie of the Year Rob Pannell leads New York with 16 points (9g, 7a). Greg “the beast” Gurenlian leads all MLL teams face-off specialists winning 61 percent of all face-offs at x and has picked up 28 ground balls thus far.

During the off-season the Lizards made some moves in hopes to rebuild the chemistry of a team that struggled last year with a disappointing 4-10 record unable to reach the postseason.

Last year New York’s special teams were not quite up to par finishing the season with a 17 percentage, the lowest in the league, on the power play and had the second to lowest penalty killing percentage at 61 percent. So far through four games in 2014, the Lizards have capitalized on 37 percent of all PPG opportunities and have the highest PK in the league at 87 percent only allowing one PPGA.

Coming off of the team’s most recent win against the Machine, attackman Tommy Palasak scored four goals on four shots to earn him the Coca-Cola Player of the game and his team the victory.

In a post-game interview with MLL Network, Palasek talked about the extra energy in the third quarter that allowed him and his teammates to create excitement and set the tone for the win.

“It’s all about who is getting you the ball,” Palasek said. “You can’t be good off ball unless there is someone going hard to the net. Ned [Crotty] went hard, Rob [Pannell] was going hard, we’ve got good dodgers all over the field and it leaves me wide open sometimes.”

With all of the acquisitions, the Lizards have a stacked roster filled with some big names this year. Palasek said that even though there are a lot of well-known players, it is still a team effort on both sides.

For the whole chemistry thing that this team lacked last year, this year it has been much easier from the start at training camp to gel and mesh together as an offensive unit since a lot of guys live in the area. This allows them to practice more often during the week.

The team’s offensive unit has shown much improvement. In fact, the Lizards scored 18 goals in the season opener against Rochester surpassing last years season high of 14.

Next, New York will host the Boston Cannons at 7:30 pm. Last year the Cannons defeated the Lizards 16-12. The Lizards were unable to capitalize on any power play opportunities going 0 for 4 while the Cannons managed to take advantage of all three chances on the power play.