Stealth desperate for a victory
Washington brings NLL's only winless record into today's game
Last Saturday's 16-5 loss to the Edmonton Rush dropped the Stealth to 0-3, the worst start in franchise history, and left them as the lone NLL team without a win.
Earning victory No. 1 tonight against Buffalo (2-2) won't be easy.
The Bandits are hungry for a win after suffering two losses last weekend, spoiling their 2-0 start. Buffalo assistant coach and associate general manager Derek Graham said the Bandits need to get back to basics.
"If we can just take the one-shift-at-a-time perspective, then maybe we can improve on last weekend's performance," he said.
The Stealth would be well-served to take that same approach. They are coming off their worst defeat since a 17-5 loss to Calgary in the 2009 West Division final. Nothing went right for the Stealth in their loss to Edmonton. Offense, defense, power play, transition, goalkeeping, you name it and the Stealth didn't do it very well.
After the game, assistant coach Art Webster, who is running the team while head coach Chris Hall undergoes treatment for throat cancer, told his charges they need to be ready to go at the opening faceoff.
"I explained to them that we didn't come to play," Webster said, "and this is what happens when we don't come to play."
He added that something has to change against Buffalo and that the Bandits can expect to face a desperate Stealth squad.
"They know our plan is we have got to get this thing turned around and they are the lucky ones that we have to face," Webster said.
Webster said it is important for the Stealth to get off to a fast start on the road in order to gain confidence. Conversely, Graham said he is more concerned with how the Bandits finish.
"I care more about the end rather than the start," he said. "We aren't going to get shaky if we have a bad start. We are more concerned with how we play in the fourth quarter."
One of the keys for the Stealth is improving on the offensive end. Webster said prior to the Edmonton game that his front-line needed to stop settling for outside shots and attack the goal, getting into what he called "the dirty area."
That didn't happen against Edmonton and the Stealth were embarrassed at home.
Webster said Washington could be embarrassed again if his offensive unit doesn't get more aggressive.
"When we play Buffalo this weekend, if we stay to the outside, we will be in the same predicament as last week," he said.
Today's game marks the first time the Stealth have faced forward Luke Wiles since trading him to Buffalo in the offseason. Wiles was a key piece of the Stealth's run to the NLL Championship game last May.
Although there was no animosity when Washington and Wiles parted company, Webster said he expects Wiles to be fired up to face his old team.
"Trading Luke to Buffalo was not on bad terms. It was more of a case of demographics for him," Webster said. "Luke Wiles is one of those guys that comes to play every night and he is probably going to want to say, 'Hello guys.'
"He is a goal-scorer and our job is to stop him from scoring goals."
Aaron Lommers covers the Washington Stealth for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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