The New England Black Wolves had the best defense in the league going into week four, and with a 2-0 record, shared the top spot in the eastern division. Fast forward just two weeks into the future, and the ‘Wolve are 2-2 and a game and a half out of first place.
What went wrong in New England?
First, they gave up 19 goals to a Minnesota Swarm offense that is getting increasingly better. Then they gave up 18 to the Edmonton Rush in their first road game of the season.
The Black Wolves defense has give up 52 goals in all, which is still the second best in the east behind just Rochester. However, they now have a -1 differential with 51 goals scored and the second worst offense in the east and the third worst in the league overall.
Despite the two losses in a row, New England is tied for second with three other teams in the east, which are Buffalo, Minnesota, and Rochester, who share a .500 record and a 1.5 defecit behind Toronto in the division.
“Defensively we lost our composure as the game went on and we jumped out of our system that we were trying to play and give up shots from the outside and take away the creases.” Black Wolves head coach Blane Harrison said to the media after their loss in Edmonton.
After giving up so many goals in the past two weeks, one can begin to question the first two that the Black Wolves had. They held Buffalo to eight goals in the first game and Rochester to 7 in the second.
To look at it in context, the Knighthawks have the worst offense in the league at 44 goals overall, so shutting them down might not be so admirable. Meanwhile, Buffalo has the second best goal total in the NLL, but they’ve also played six games, which is two more than three teams in the east and one more than Toronto. To look at it more objectively, that means Buffalo is averaging around 11.3 goals per game, which is actually only .3 higher than Rochester and behind everyone else in the east.
Minnesota is averaging 14.5 goals per game and Edmonton 13, and they scored well over their projections against New England. However, the two teams the Black Wolves played before could be giving us a bad read on what their defense is.
“We’re not pushing the panic button yet, but it’s certainly back to square one,” said Harrison on NLL.com. “We gotta regroup, we have a weekend where we’re going to get to go away and practice for a couple times over the weekend and get it back together.”