Skidding Stealth look to regain early season form
Offense needs to perk up, power play must improve
The Washington Stealth started the NLL season winning three of their first four games and held first place in the West Division. Since then, the Stealth have lost two consecutive road games and have fallen to 3-3. They've dropped from first place, replaced by Calgary (3-2), which has taken over that spot after an 0-2 start.
By the time this weekend's games are over, the Stealth could once again be in first place, or they could be as low as third.
The Stealth try to get back on track tonight against Colorado tonight at Comcast Arena. The Mammoth have rebounded from a 17-13 loss to the Stealth in their season-opener to get to 2-2 and tie the Stealth for second place in the West.
"In terms of down the line playoff implications and tie-breaking situations, obviously it's a big game," Stealth head coach Chris Hall said. "If we can win, we know we move ahead of them in the standings for starters, but we also know we have the tiebreaker locked up and in our back pocket in the eventuality that it might come down to that."
Former Stealth goalkeeper Matt Roik will be in Colorado's goal trying to stop Washington from defeating the Mammoth a second time this season. Roik was traded to Toronto before the 2012 season, later was released and then picked up by Colorado this season. He has helped the Mammoth to two victories in his three starts.
Hall expects Roik to be excited to face his former teammates.
"That's a natural motivator," Hall said. "But there was no animosity when we traded Matt. We traded him to Toronto which is right near his home town and his home fans, so at the time it was a good trade for both teams."
The Stealth's offense needs an improved effort this weekend to avoid a three-game losing streak. Washington fell to Rochester 7-6 last Saturday in a game that featured very little offense.
"Both goaltenders were having a lights-out night," Hall said. "Both defenses were good. Both goaltenders were having great nights and it was tough to get (shots) by them. (Matt) Vinc was red-hot and so was T-Rich (Tyler Richards).
"It was one of those games where you have to make sure that you are taking advantage of power play opportunities and when you get your opportunities in tight and in close, you have to cash in and I think they did just a slightly better job of that then we did."
It's no secret that the Stealth have to improve both sides of the power play. Washington is last in the league in taking advantage of the power play and last in penalty kill percentage. The team also has given up six short-handed goals this season, but scored none of its own.
"Not to lay the blame at the feet of the power play, but we have to be more efficient on the power play and we need to stop giving up the short-handed goals, especially when in two tough road games in Minnesota and Rochester we come away with nothing," Hall said. "And we were only one goal away in both of them. So that stings a bit."
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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