The reigning Nationwide Lacrosse League champion Saskatchewan Rush are coming into “must-win” territory.
“Phrases proper out of (Rush head coach and GM) Derek Keenan’s mouth,” Rush captain Chris Corbeil mentioned after a 17-12 loss Saturday to the visiting Calgary Roughnecks because the Rush fell to an surprising Three-and-Four this season.
Who would have thought?
No one noticed this coming.
If it’s not “must-win” territory, it’s definitely “much-needed win” territory for the defending champions.
“Yeah, we have to flip this factor round,” agreed Keenan, whose group now returns to the highway for a sport Saturday in Vancouver, B.C., in opposition to the Vancouver Warriors.
“I belief our guys. I belief our management. I believe we’re getting near that (must-win territory). It’s nonetheless early within the season — we’re not even midway by way of and we’re underneath .500 — however we’re getting near that as a result of Vancouver obtained a win this (previous) weekend they usually now have the identical variety of wins as us.”
Saskatchewan sits third within the NLL’s Western Division behind each the growth San Diego Seals and Roughnecks. Vancouver has a Three-6 document and the Colorado Mammoth are additionally off to a sluggish begin at 2-5.
Whereas there could also be a renewed sense of urgency for the Rush, there isn’t any sense of panic.
“It’s only a droop, man,” burdened veteran Rush ahead Jeff Shattler, who scored three objectives in opposition to his former Roughnecks group Saturday. “In any sport, groups get into slumps. These guys have been on prime for 4 years now. We’re simply going to face slightly adversity proper now and see how we’re going to reply.
“I’m not panicking.”
A change within the NLL playoff format will be sure that 4 of 5 groups within the Western Division will qualify for the post-season.
“Just one group misses the playoffs in our division and we nonetheless have one other 11 video games,” famous Shattler. “We had three dangerous video games however we’ve obtained to remain optimistic and know that our group is a championship-quality group and see what occurs. You may’t fear about it.
“It’s a one-game playoff. Just one group doesn’t make it. There’s no bye for the first-place group so, ultimately, all of us end in the identical boat. All we’ve obtained to do is make the playoffs, guys. If we make the playoffs, we’ve obtained the identical likelihood as anyone else. I’m not panicking in any respect.”
Shattler spent 11 seasons with the Roughnecks earlier than being acquired by the Rush. He was the playoff MVP final season when the Rush received one other NLL crown.
“I completed in first place in Calgary for six years and by no means received a championship,” identified Shattler. “It’s an entire season. It is dependent upon while you get scorching through the yr. We’re going to reply proper now. This solely makes us a stronger group. It’s not going to make us a weaker group. We simply had slightly adversity. We misplaced three video games. We’re off to the subsequent one.”
Corbeil admits new NLL playoff format provides some saving grace but it surely’s additionally no excuse.
“The one good factor, once we discover ourselves with a Three-Four document this season, is the yr that 4 out of 5 groups in our division make the playoffs,” mentioned Corbeil.
“That’s good however I hate even saying that, as a result of it looks like we’re setting the bar so low, like, ‘Let’s end within the prime 4 on our facet.’ That shouldn’t be our purpose and that’s not our purpose. We definitely obtained to begin turning issues round. The new begin (Saturday) was largely as a result of vitality we had been feeding off of the group. You may’t put a price on this home-floor benefit. It’s big. We clearly need that for so long as we are able to within the playoffs and to do this we’ve obtained to get a excessive seed in our division. We’ve obtained our work reduce out for us.”