MLL Semifinals Preview: Chesapeake vs Denver

(Photo Credit: Jermain Rangasammy)

We have reached the MLL playoffs as the semifinals are this weekend. The four teams that made the playoff are 1. Dallas Rattlers, 2. Chesapeake Bayhawks, 3. Denver Outlaws, and 4. New York Lizards. These teams have all been sitting in the top five of the league all season and some had big wins last week that helped them secure a spot in the playoffs. The regular season came down to the last week of the season to decide the last two playoff spots and that makes the playoffs even more exciting. 

2. Chesapeake Bayhawks vs 3. Denver Outlaws

Two of the hottest and best teams in the league will face off in the first semifinal game at 5:30 on Saturday night. This game should be a battle to the end as both teams have great players on both ends of the field. 

For Chesapeake they have been lead by their usual cast of characters as well as some young guns. This is one of the most high powered offenses in the league and when they are clicking together they are hard to stop. They also have one of the best goalies in the MLL to anchor that defense. They Bayhawks were a little down the last few weeks of the season after going on a seven game winning streak, but they didn't have much to play for as they had already captured a playoff birth. 

On offense they will need their big production guys to show up big like we are used to seeing from them. It will take guys like Colin Hacock, Myles Jones, and Steele Stanwick to step up again and produce the numbers they have all season. Also, with the return of Lyle Thompson they will need him to step up as well. Lyle was very productive last week and I don't think we should expect any different on Saturday.

Defensively the Bayhawks have one of the best goalies in the league with Niko Amato as well as Brian Phipps. The goalie core for the Bayhawks has been one of the best this year and If they can perform very well they have a great chance of winning. The Bayhawks also have a good short defense core with Matt Reese, CJ Costabile, Matt Reese, as well as Jesse Bernhardt. That defense hasn't been up to par the last few weeks so the will have to put it back together here in the semifinals.

The biggest question mark for Chesapeake is at the faceoff dot. With Stephen Kelly going down last week Bayhawk fans should be hitting the panic button. Out of the Bayhawks 394 faceoffs this season Kelly has taken 361. He is their only true faceoff guy and they will need him whether he is fully healthy or not. This may be the biggest storyline heading into the playoffs.

Looking at Denver I feel that they are one of the most, if not the most, complete team in the league. They have had a great season as they really haven't been up or down at all this year. they are dangerous everywhere, especially in transition. The Outlaws are a team that when they get up on you they can stay up.

The Outlaws are really lead on offense by Eric Law who is their quarterback. Matt Kavanagh, Kylor Bellistri, Drew Snider, and Romar Dennis are just some of the other names that you have to worry about when facing the Outlaws. Denver might be missing Rookie of the year front runner Chris Cloutier as he went down with an injury two weeks ago and missed last week. Those guys that they will have on offense will need to play like they know how. Denver is a team that moves the ball very well and kills opposing defenses in transition. That will be the x-factor if they want to control this game.

On defense the Outlaws have one of the best goalies in Dillon Ward. Ward is the backup as Jack Kelly went down in the World Championships. Ward is the best backup that any team would want as he is talked about as one of the best, if not the best, in the world. In terms of close defense Denver has a very good rope unit in the league with Matt Bocklet leading that unit. The Denver defense is dangerous as they really initiate the transition. They will defiantly need to play their best as they will have their hands full.

Denver has one of the best faceoff guys in the league in Max Adler. Adler has been dominate all year long and I really don't feel that we will see any different this week. Adler is 131-227 on the year at the faceoff dot and he should be another x-factor for the Outlaws this week.

Tanner's Pick:

Chesapeake Bayhawks 

In this game I am going to have to go with the Bayhawks for this one. If this game was in Denver I feel they would have a big advantage but it is in Annapolis. The fans in Annapolis will be out in numbers on Saturday to support their Bayhawks. They haven't been tremendous the past few weeks, but they didn't really need to be, and I think that all changes here as they can flip the switch and get back to the MLL championship game.