The Edmonton Rush (15-1) will host the Calgary Roughnecks (10-8) Saturday night at Rexall Place in the two teams’ final meeting of the 2014 regular season.
The Rush have already won the four-game season series between these two teams, scoring 15 goals in each of their previous three meetings while holding Calgary to an average of 8.7 goals in those contests. In fact, Edmonton is single-handedly responsible for half of Calgary’s losses this year.
Although Edmonton’s quest for a perfect season was killed last weekend by the Colorado Mammoth, they have locked up the best record in the NLL for the season and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
While a fourth-straight win against the Roughnecks would send the resounding message that that the Rush are a force to be reckoned with in the West Division postseason, Calgary will be looking upset Edmonton in their own house to let it be known that they can still win the games that count in the playoffs.
Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson has neutralized Calgary’s Geoff Snider two games in a row in the faceoff circle. Last weekend, they tied 15-15 on draws; on March 14 Thompson won 12 of 23 faceoffs while Snider won 10 of the 20 he took. If Thompson can once again tie up the best faceoff specialist in the league’s history, he’ll have once again taken away one of Calgary’s biggest advantages over opposing teams.
Sophomore forward Mark Matthews is leading the Rush offense with 72 points (27 G, 45 A) while fellow sophomore Curtis Knight is leading the team in goals with 32.
But the true strength of this team lies on the other end of the floor. Goalie Aaron Bold is leading the NLL in goals against average at 8.66. Three Rush defenders are in the top eight in the league in loose balls: Thompson at fifth (153), Kyle Rubisch at seventh (134) and Chris Corbeil at eighth (127). An absurd six of the top 10 in forced turnovers are on the Rush including Rubisch with a league-record 51 and counting.
Calgary’s strength is their offense which is averaging a league-best 13 goals per game. Shawn Evans is leading the team with 92 points and the NLL with 72 assists; Dane Dobbie leads the league in goals with 47 while Curtis Dickson is fourth with 34.
Mike Poulin is seventh in goals against average at 11.88 but his second half of the season has been considerably better than the first half and when he is on his game, he can be virtually unbeatable.
The game gets underway at 7:00 pm MT.