Do Calgary Roughnecks Need More Defense?

In 2013 the Calgary Roughnecks scored the most goals of any team in the National Lacrosse League, with 222. They also were tied for most goals against at 211.

Obviously the offense seems to be in good shape. But do the Roughnecks need a boost on defense?

In a nine-team league, it would be foolish to stand pat and assume you’ll be fine, so looking to improve should always be on the table. But I’m not sure defensive help, per se, is necessary.

The Roughnecks gave up the third-fewest shots against last year, so it would seem that the defense was doing its job, for the most part, by keeping scorers at bay. However, Calgary’s goaltending tandem of Mike Poulin and Frankie Scigliano had the worst save percentage in the NLL at a disappointing .733, well short of expectations, considering that Poulin went into the 2013 campaign as the reigning Goaltender of the Year.

But the goalies efforts weren’t helped by a general lack of discipline in front in them. The Roughnecks were shorthanded 107 times in 2013, far more than any other team. All those penalty kills resulted in 59 goals against, also a league-worst and fully 28 percent of Calgary’s total goals against.

So perhaps the problem isn’t that the defense let the team down or that the goaltending let the team down; perhaps the problem is that the team took too many penalties and put the defense and the netminders at such a consistent disadvantage that they couldn’t help but give up too many goals.

That being the case, the challenge will be less about finding a new mix of players to play on the defensive side of the floor and more of a challenge for head coach Curt Malawsky and his assistants, Bob McMahon and Bruce Codd, to keep their squad under control.