The Colorado Mammoth journey to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks on Saturday night. This is the third and final meeting of thee two teams in the 2013 regular season since splitting their first two match ups in January.
It’s also the first time these teams face each other since Colorado made some wholesale changes to their roster.
Gone are both of the goalies Calgary last faced, replaced with sophomore netminders Dan Lewis and Tye Belanger. Belanger has earned the last two starts and has won them both while only giving up 9.5 goals per game.
For a team with the second highest goals against average in the league (12.88), Belanger’s performance has been a breath of fresh air and gives the Mammoth hope for a major turnaround in their fortunes in the home stretch.
Colorado made one other big move before the trade deadline, sending veteran defenseman Jon Sullivan to the Rochester Knighthawks in exchange for former league MVP Casey Powell.
Powell’s brief stay with the K’Hawks did not meet the high expectations for his output, but he tied a season-high six points in his Mammoth debut last weekend, suggesting that he might fit in well in the Colorado offensive system.
Along with the always dangerous John Grant Jr. and 2012 Rookie of the Year Adam Jones, the Mammoth now have the firepower to match up with any other team in the league, including the Roughnecks.
Calgary is running away with the goals for lead in the NLL this year, having lit the lamp 161 times already. With at least six top notch scoring options on the roster, including the league’s current scoring leader, Shawn Evans (72 points), the Roughnecks are capable of hitting the back of the net on virtually every possession.
Calgary’s struggles this year have come by way of poor team discipline coupled with so-so goaltending. The Roughnecks have taken more penalties than any other team in the NLL, by a wide margin, and have given up a ton of goals as a result on the man advantage.
Netminder Mike Poulin is coming off a season where he won the Goaltender of the Year award, but this year, in addition to being left high and dry on penalty kill situations, he hasn’t come up with some of the huge, game-saving stops that were his bread and butter last year.
Encouragingly, the Roughnecks only gave up two shorthanded opportunities in their last game and that helped them keep the Minnesota Swarm under control en route to a 19-15 win.
Whether or not they can continue to stay on the straight and narrow will likely determine their fate against what is likely going to be a very effective Colorado power play.