Four days after a two-victory weekend, the Buffalo Bandits are set for a road game against the Philadelphia Wings.
Faceoff on Thursday from Wells Fargo Center is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and 1520 AM.
Buffalo defeated Halifax 16-11 in both games of a home-and-home series on Saturday and Sunday, and they’ll have another quick turnaround this weekend. Following Thursday’s game, the Bandits (12-1) will head to Denver to play the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday, wrapping up a stretch of four games in eight days.
Philadelphia (6-7) also found success last week as they beat the Rochester Knighthawks 12-8 for the Wing’s first victory since January 29. Both teams entered the game on four-game losing streaks, and Philadelphia’s 9-2 run in the first half propelled them over the last-place Knighthawks.
This is the second and final meeting of the season between Buffalo and Philadelphia. The Bandits steamrolled to a 17-5 victory back on March 12 at KeyBank Center.
Under the new expanded playoff format instituted for this season, the top four teams in the East, top three teams in the West and one wild card team with the next best record qualify.
The Bandits have already secured a playoff berth and now they’re attempting to close in on a division title.
The Wings, meanwhile, are fighting for their playoff lives. They’re currently fifth in the East and have a slightly better win percentage than Panther City for that wild card spot with a game in hand.
Here is everything you need to know:
1. “Five…Six…We want seven!”
The Bandits are currently riding their second six-game winning streak of the season and are hoping that it doesn’t get broken again. Buffalo started the season 6-0 and was the last unbeaten team left in the NLL.
The 12-10 loss to Toronto that snapped that streak is their only loss of the season so far. No NLL team has won seven in a row this season.
If Philadelphia is able to pull off the upset, they’ll look to start in the faceoff circle. When Toronto beat Buffalo, Rock faceoff specialist TD Lerlan won 22 consecutive draws, allowing the Rock to control the pace of the game and play their style of lacrosse.
Wings faceoff man Trevor Baptiste has won 66.3 percent of his draws this year, ranking him third in the league. In Buffalo and Philadelphia’s first matchup this season, Baptiste corralled 18 of 26 opportunities against Bandits rookie Max Alder, who was in just his third game in Banditland after signing midseason.
2. Shaky at Wells Fargo Center
Philadelphia has had a love-hate relationship with playing at home this season.
The Wings started the season 3-0 at home, but are just 1-4 at Wells Fargo Center since.
Their last win in front of the Wing faithful was back on January 22 against Rochester. They’ve since dropped three-straight home games to New York, Toronto, and Halifax.
All of their games are extremely tight at home as well with just one more goal scored (91) than allowed (90). Six of the eight games have been decided by just two goals or less. The Wings are 3-3 in those contests.
After Thursday’s game, they’ll embark on a five-game road trip to close out the season.
3. Small’s big performance
Corey Small had a massive game for Philadelphia last weekend. The Wings’ second-leading scorer netted a career-high six goals and added two assists to increase his point total to 53.
The former Bandit scored just 31seconds into regulation on the power-play, which set the tone for Small to have a career night.
Back on March 12 against Buffalo, Small scored twice on a team-high 12 shots.