The Buffalo Bandits will head south to Georgia for their final meeting of the regular season against the Swarm on Saturday as the NLL regular season enters the home stretch. Only two games are left on the Bandits’ schedule.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Gas South Arena and available on ESPN+ and 1520 AM.
Saturday will be meaningful for both Buffalo (13-3) and Georgia (8-7), as they are both in the thick of the playoff hunt in the East.
If the postseason started today, the Bandits would host the fourth-seeded Swarm in the opening round.
4 spots taken, 4 spots up for grabs#ChaseForTheChampionship pic.twitter.com/Ks2IQ80ltn
— NLL (@NLL) April 13, 2022
Buffalo is looking to snap a two-game losing streak after they fell to the Colorado Mammoth and New York Riptide over the last two weeks. It is the only time the Bandits have lost consecutive games this season.
The last time the Bandits and Swarm met was on January 14 when Bandits eked out a 12-10 victory. Josh Byrne was the game’s First Star with two shorthanded goals and five assists.
Georgia has surged in the second half of the season. They’re riding a four-game winning streak with victories over Rochester, Halifax, Albany and Toronto, but have been idle since April 1.
Here is everything you need to know:
1. Cutting back on goals against
Buffalo has allowed opponents to score 15 goals in each of their past two losses. They averaged just 9.71 goals against up to that point.
The Bandits have also been on the wrong end of stretch runs in both losses, creating steep deficits that they have not been used to throughout the season.
Against Colorado, Buffalo was outscored 7-3 in the second quarter. The Bandits, who were wrapping up a stretch of four games in eight days, battled back, but ran out of steam. They lost 15-14.
New York, meanwhile, stunned the Bandits with 10 goals in the first half last weekend to Buffalo’s three. Another valiant second-half effort saw Buffalo come up just short in a 15-12 loss.
With the opening round of the playoffs being a single-elimination format, the Bandits will have two games to work out their recent struggles to ensure another surprising loss doesn’t knock them out of the playoffs in just a few weeks.
“We need to get back to the basics,” Bandits head coach John Tavares said. “If we continue to work hard and play smart lacrosse, we will have similar success to what we’ve had throughout the season.”
2. More records to be broken?
Buffalo’s Dhane Smith broke the league’s single-season assist record with his 87th helper last week.
He is on the verge of breaking the NLL’s single-season point record, a mark he set back in 2016. With two games remaining, Smith leads the league with 126 points (39+87) and needs 12 more to break his own record.
Smith already has one 12-point game under his belt this season. He posted two goals and 10 assists in a win over Philadelphia on March 12.
Tickets are on sale NOW for Round 1 of the @NLL Playoffs in BANDITLAND!
Secure your seats: https://t.co/UCT8jumwVv pic.twitter.com/ddJvrZrczU
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) April 13, 2022
3. Limiting Lyle Thompson
Lyle Thompson was held in check against the Bandits in their first matchup.
The NLL’s leading goal scorer potted just two back on January 14, and both came in the first quarter. Thompson recorded two assists in the next frame, but didn’t register another point for the remainder of the contest.
This season, Thompson, who has 41 goals on the year, has been held off the scoresheet for an entire half only one other time this season.
Georgia is 6-1 record when Thompson scores more than five points.