Thursday, May 16, 2013

Game Preview: Denver vs. Rochester

 
 Opponent: Rochester Rattlers (1-2)
When: Saturday, May 18, 7 p.m. MDT
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver
Local Broadcast: CBS Sports (8 p.m. MDT)
All-time vs. Rochester: 2-4 (Home: 1-2)
 
 
Matchup: After three consecutive games on the road to start the season, the Outlaws return to Denver for the team's home opener versus Rochester.

Last Week: Denver moved to 3-0 with a 14-10 win at Boston in Week 3. Drew Snider earned Player of the Game honors with a career-best five goals and Jesse Schwartzman went on to win MLL Defensive Player of the Week after saving 17-of-27 shots and shutting out the Cannons in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
 
Rochester earned its first win of the season to improve to 1-2 with a 13-10 victory at Charlotte. Jordan MacIntosh led the Rattlers with four goals and Ned Crotty and Matt Striebel added three a piece. Crotty also assisted on four others, finishing with seven points to earn the MLL Offensive Player of the Week Award.

History: The Outlaws lost their first four games against Rochester before sweeping the Rattlers in 2012. Denver beat Rochester 17-12 at Rochester on Aug. 4, 2012 and defeated the Rattlers in Denver 16-12 on June 16, 2012.
 
Denver is 1-2 all-time at home against Rochester, 1-1 on the road and 0-1 in the postseason.

Preview: The Outlaws look to continue their franchise-record win streak that was pushed to nine games in a row with last week's victory at Boston.

While even home games require many of the Outlaws players to travel to Denver, Head Coach Jim Stagnitta said that the team is looking forward to their first game of the season at Sports Authority Field.
 
"Even for Denver, it’s an away game for some of our guys," Stagnitta said. "But at least the other team is sleeping in a hotel too and they have to travel. More of our guys have settled in Denver than we’ve had in the past. So maybe half our guys will be sleeping in their own beds. The other guys are comfortable with Denver, with our fans, with the stadium and they’ll be excited to be there. Worst-case scenario, we’re playing on an even playing field. We get to practice at a reasonable time and at least the other team is sleeping in hotels and traveling also. That kind of evens it out a little bit.”

Defenseman Lee Zink is one of the Denver-based Outlaws, and he said that he is looking forward to playing in front of the hometown fans this weekend.

“I’m so excited for a home game and to play in front of our home crowd," Zink said. "We’ve been on the road for the last four weekends – including training camp. Home games add to a sense of comfort and there is no better place, or more fun place to play than Mile High.”

When Denver Has The Ball: The Outlaws continue to lead the league in scoring with 48 goals through three weeks of play.

Snider and Chris Bocklet both rank in the league's top 5 with seven and nine goals, respectively. Last year's MLL MVP Brendan Mundorf is tied for the league lead with five assists.

“People are going to focus on Brendan and that makes everyone else that much more dangerous," Stagnitta said. "It's only game two for him and as he get more comfortable with his teammates and they get to know him, the goals will come. For now he is doing what he did in his MVP season last year – making everyone around him better.”
  
When Rochester Has The Ball: The Rattlers are led by Crotty, who has posted 81 points over the past two seasons. He scored three goals and assisted on four others to finish with seven points in the Ratters' Week 3 win at Charlotte.
 
Against the Cannons, the Outlaws deployed Zink on the MLL's all-time leading scorer, Ryan Boyle. While Boyle was able to tie and then break the prestigious record, Zink held him without a goal - limiting Boyle to just a pair of assists.
 
This week, look for Zink to match up against Crotty.
 
The veteran defenseman was able to win those battles in both games last season, holding Crotty without a goal and just two assists over the two games in 2012.
 
"Certainly there are some guys on their team from a defensive standpoint that we’ll make sure we have the proper matchup for," Stagnitta said. "But, we just need to do what we do on a more consistent basis and do it better."
 
When Nobody Has The Ball: Anthony Kelly continued his torrid start to the season last week at Boston winning 16-of-27 faceoffs (.593 pct.). In fact, all three of Kelly's performances to start the year have ranked in the top-10 for Outlaws' single-game records when it comes to faceoff winning percentages. He began the year 19-of-29 (.655 pct.) and then went 13-of-20 (.650 pct.) in Week 2.

Kelly is second in the league in faceoff winning percentage with his .632 success rate training New York Lizards faceoff man Greg Gurenlian's .676 pct.
 
"Anthony is a seasoned professional," Stagnitta said. "We are young in a lot of areas and the experienced veterans are the key to our success. Anthony is healthy, and driven. His play has been consistent and on the verge of dominant. If you have a strong goalie, faceoff man and finisher you will be in every game. Right now we have the luxury of having all three.”
 
Rochester counters with John Ortolani, who is 40-of-77 (.519 pct.) on the season and 89-of-169 (.527 pct.) in his five-year career. Ortolani has already set a season high in both games played and faceoff attempts through three weeks of 2013.

He went 14-of-27 in Rochester's win at Charlotte last week.

Battle in Net: Jesse Schwartzman is coming off MLL Defensive Player of the Week honors after holding Boston to 10 goals on a total of 42 shots, making 17 saves in the game.

He held the Cannons off the board in the fourth quarter, making six saves in the final frame to allow Denver to seal the victory.
 
“As well as Snider played, Jesse was my MVP," Stagnitta said. "After watching the Boston film, we don’t win that game if Jesse isn't playing at the level he did. He was terrific and honestly he had as much to do with shutting down Rabil as anyone.”

Schwartzman ranks second in the league with 35 saves and third with a .515 save percentage through three games. He has allowed just one two-pointer and that came in Week 1.

John Galloway is fourth in the league with 23 saves and a .511 save percentage in the two games he's been in the lineup for Rochester. 

He turned away 11 shots while allowing 10 goals last week for the Rattlers. 

Galloway has allowed three two-pointers, which are the most allowed by any of the league's starting goalies.

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