Blogs | 4/26/2011 5:53:56 PM | John Gurtler
| Photo: Bill Wippert|
Get your game on!
Now is the time for the real Buffalo Bandits to come forward and play what they’ve been hiding in the war room: Bandit Ball.
Nothing was more defining for this team than when they toured part of the Golden Horseshoe, defeating Toronto and Rochester in back-to-back games a couple of weeks ago.
You know by now what kind of team this is – and if it can break through what has transpired in the last month (a 2-3 record), Saturday night’s Eastern Division semi-final against Boston will be a fierce battle, and not the kind of slop that happened near the end of the last meeting between these two clubs. No, it’s the relentless attack on the opponent's 'time and space' and making them pay the price – both on defense and offense.
Plain and simple, it’s Bandit Ball. The way it's believed in and played. It takes confidence, attitude and conviction.
And this year’s team has the chemistry to make it work, save the results of the last couple of weeks.
Saturday night you’ll see this club turn it up a couple of notches and play the kind of inspired lacrosse General Manager and Head Coach Darris Kilgour has designed, which includes the passion and aggressive play that number 43 was known for.
Mix the above ingredients with the sounds and support from Banditland in HSBC Arena, and visiting teams will long for a sunny, mild breeze at the harbor front in a lounge chair.
Despite the last couple of games, the Bandits showed some interesting looks in the rushes and defenses, many of which are a façade on the game plan prep with Boston.
I loved the Clay Hill deke and over-the-left-shoulder shot in front of Knighthawks netminder Matt Vinc Saturday night. Great move by Hill, and it almost found net. And the defensive duo of Steve Priolo and Hill setting up John Tavares for a score was good.
Defense and transition will be tough to handle. And the Bandit forwards, too, look to add a relentless attack with superb ball movement and control – I have seen it, and so have you.
John Tavares, leading his club in scoring for the 12th time in his 20-seasons, has the uncanny ability to make the other Bandit players play better and take over the confrontation.
The defense has established a new franchise record by allowing an average of 9.94 goals-against per game. Mike Thompson finished in the top three in the coveted categories of save-percentage, goals-against and wins.
Overall, a balanced attack and character have made the Bandits playoff favorites this season. I am on board with it.
But the Boston Blazers match-up is almost even with the Bandits in the same categories, including defense, goaltending and scoring.
I am not going to get into statistics and tale of the tape between these two clubs. Each have their forces and it won’t take much to play inspired playoff ball.
It’s about believing. It’s about confidence. It’s about trust.
And it’s about time. Get your game on.
Broadcast coverage will go at 7 PM Saturday with half-hour pre-game show. Play-by-play will follow.