Play around the league is clearly improving now that the weather is heading towards summer. This past weekend two games reached 55 combined points, the highest point total in league history. Three players, Tyler Chan, Morgan Hibbert, and Mark Burton, recorded 10+ points. Portland became the first team to clinch a playoff berth and doing so while claiming the #1 seed in the West for the second season in a row. In the east, D.C. and Boston both grabbed crucial wins, proving that the battle for the final playoff spot will go down to the final weeks.
#1 Portland Stags: 7-1
The Stags took care of business at home, ensuring that they would remain at home for the Western Conference Championship. Early on the Dogfish looked to be able to match Portland point for point and had opportunities to run away with the game. However in the second half the Stags absolutely destroyed San Francisco, finishing the final two quarters with a 13-3 advantage. Their defense proved in this game to be the best in the league generating 17 blocks. Even though this team has played at least one more game than everyone else, they have allowed the fewest goals against them with only 123.
#2 Philadelphia Spinners: 5-2
Early on it appeared the Current were in control of the game, however Philadelphia kept it close enough to tie it and send it into overtime. In the extra period, D.C. came out and got a break to set the trend on a gassed Philadelphia team that struggled in their first OT loss on the season. The resolve of the team is encouraging, something we have not seen from this team in the past three years. Their qualities should be enough to carry the team into the playoffs but hungry Boston and D.C. teams are right behind them. Meanwhile ROTY candidate Billy Sickles further separated himself from the pack with his 8 point performance.
#3 D.C. Current: 4-3
Huge win for the Current this past weekend, topping the team that ended their home winning streak. D.C. looked the best that they have looked all season even though they were feeling the injury sting. Only reason why I did not have them passing Philadelphia in the rankings is because they lacked a killer instinct. The team went up on the Spinners but kept allowing them to come back, they never finished the job until overtime. Normally I would be okay with it, but in a must-win game for D.C. they had to shut the door early and were lucky Philly did not steal this one.
#4 Boston Whitecaps: 4-3
I think the Whitecaps found their new Danny Clark in Tyler Chan. Fast does not even begin to describe the highly touted rookie's skill set. He can do it all and be one of the top five players on Boston's roster, which says a lot. Boston is on a roll now, they have won four out of their last five game (albeit three of those wins were to the Rumble). Boston displayed their strength going up early, scoring 11 points in the first quarter and then never looked back. Their 31 points scored is the highest in the league thus far.
#5 Seattle Rainmakers: 4-3
Seattle went into Vancouver this weekend and played a fantastic game against the Nighthawks. The entire game went back-and-forth with neither team being able to pull away. For the Rainmakers, they relied on their two best players, Khalif El-Salaam and Burton to control the game. Combined, they scored 13 goals and 7 assists. Despite the stats dispairty, it was yet another complete "team win" for the Rainmakers, with everyone getting involved in the action.
#6 Vancouver Nighthawks: 1-5
Probably the best game that the Nighthawks have played all season, just unfortunate the Rainmakers played a tad bit better. If you want to make a cross-sports reference, compare Hibbert to LeBron James. He is the workhorse of this team, playing 38 of the possible 55 points. Now unlike James, Hibbert's supporting cast is vastly more impressive and feel victim to the Rainmakers. With this loss the Nighthawks now are all but eliminated from making the postseason.
#7 San Francisco Dogfish: 2-5
The phrase lightening never strikes the same place twice can be used in this situation. Portland annihilated the Dogfish's offense this weekend, preventing San Francisco from building any momentum, particularly in the second half. The Dogfish only scored 3 points in the final twenty minutes of play. Throughout the game the team turned the disc over 34 times, a stat that can never happen if you want to be victorious. The Dogfish are not entirely done yet, but they are going to need help if they want to catch the Rainmakers.
#8 New York Rumble: 1-6
With their loss to the Whitecaps, the Rumble are officially eliminated from making the playoffs. If the Spinners go on to make the postseason, New York will be the only team to not make playoffs in the league's three year history. On a positive note, the Rumble scored the most points they have scored all season, the offense looked way cleaner than it has all season, and it looks promising that they may be able to nab a win against one of the top three teams.
Three weeks remaining on the schedule with three postseason spots left open. The marquee game of the weekend will be Boston vs. D.C. in the Current's final home game of the regular season. These two teams never disappoint when they get together and with the implications of the game it is sure to be a show. The Rainmakers can clinch the second seed in the Western Conference Championship with a win in Portland or a loss by the Dogfish to Vancouver. Also on the weekend the Spinners head to New York to try and hold their conference lead.
Formerly the "MLUltimate Fan Blog". New site, new name, same source.