With the NLL season halfway over, the Vancouver Stealth (3-7) and Minnesota Swarm (2-7) are languishing at the bottom of their respective divisions.
The Stealth only have eight games remaining; the Swarm have nine. Vancouver is a full game out of a playoff spot in the West Division while Minnesota is 2.5 games out of the East Division playoffs.
With the clock ticking on their playoff hopes, can either team make a strong enough run to get back in the hunt?
The short answer is yes.
Both teams have made moves this week in an effort to bolster their rosters. Vancouver has picked up forward Jamie Lincoln to add some firepower to their offense and defenseman Brad Richardson to try to fill the hole left by injuries to Kyle Sorensen and Chris O’Dougherty. Minnesota has reactivated transition Tyler Hass from Injured Reserve which should help with their depth.
Also of note is that both teams have come out on the wrong end of close games.
Vancouver has had three one-goal losses this year. Had the bounces gone a different way in those games, they could easily be 6-4, rather than 3-7. If they can refocus and become more consistent they have the experience to get hot down the home stretch.
Minnesota has had four two-goal losses, so they’ve been right in the hunt in most of their losses as well. Their young athletes have yet to really gel as a unit, but have started to show signs of life, like their 15-14 win over the Philadelphia Wings in their last game.
Something else to keep in mind is that there is a ton of parity in the NLL right now. Any of the nine teams can beat any of the other nine teams on any night. That means no lead is safe in any game and any team can find themselves moving up or down the standings in a snap.
The final factor for both teams is that they have some time off to rest up and prepare for a strong push to the finish line. Vancouver is in the middle of a two-week layoff while Minnesota gets a bye this week as well.
When the two teams get back underway on March 8—Minnesota at the Buffalo Bandits and Vancouver at the Edmonton Rush—they should be rested, retooled and ready to start battling their ways back up the standings.