The Buffalo Bandits know that this could be their last home game. With Rochester losing to New York in Overtime last night, the next round of NLL playoffs will take place on New York’s home floor. After a season full of so much promise, the Bandits may be looking at their home floor even if they win tonight.
Win is the operative word, and two weeks ago they were unable to close out this same Blazers team at home. The stakes were high at the time, and the East Division title and an additional playoff game were on the line. Tonight the stakes are even higher, the Bandits will either win and travel to New York, or stay home for a long summer.
The keys for the Bandits are simple: contain Dan Dawson and Daryl Veltman, and solve goaltender Anthony Cosmo. However, Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour thinks its on the Bandits to stop beating themselves.
“We can beat anybody by ten goals on a given night,” Kilgour said after the Bandits loss to Boston on March 18.
“That’s the disappointing part: we don’t,” he said.
What the Bandits need is what every good team needs: secondary scoring and defensive focus. They can’t rely on Tavares and Steenhuis to beat Cosmo themselves, and players like Accursi, Bucktooth, and Vyse need to make an impact on the score sheet.
Buffalo also has to remain defensively conscious and continue to apply pressure when they build big leads. Two weeks ago the Bandits blew a five-goal lead in the third quarter before losing in overtime. That kind of lead isn’t insurmountable in lacrosse, but a team as talented as the Bandits simply can’t let that happen.
The home crowd will be a huge factor in a playoff game, and Buffalo needs to take advantage of that early. Coach Kilgour will make it clear that the crowd won’t be in their favor next week, and that’s something that resulted from their own mistakes.
Revenge will be on the minds of fans tonight, but the Bandits just need to live up to their own hype. With the way the 2008 NLL Champions started the season, a first round playoff exit would be an immense disappointment.
7:30 face off from HSBC Arena tonight. We’ll have plenty of coverage later on tonight.