By Sam Gest | 8/23/13 11:45 AM
As MLL Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink approaches, our MLL Insiders haven taken a deeper look into this week's matchups. Today we take a look at semifinal number two between the Chesapeake Bayhawks and Hamilton Nationals. The Bayhawks are poised to repeat their success of 2012 but the will have to get past a very strong Nationals team to do so. Let's take a look at the numbers and see who has the advantage in 2013's second playoff game.
Advantage – Hamilton
Despite being ranked lower in most offensive categories, including points per game, we’re giving Hamilton the offensive advantage. But what can’t be overlooked is that Hamilton has the best offensive player in the MLL in 2013 Warrior MVP Kevin Crowley. Chesapeake can put up great numbers, but their offense can be very stagnant from time to time, as they rely quite a bit on one-on-one matchups. Hamilton, on the other hand, shares the rock better than any team in the league, perhaps excluding Denver. Because of the star power of Crowley and Joe Walters, and the team’s ability to share the ball, we’re giving the Hamilton offense the edge in this one.
Advantage – Chesapeake
This was another category where there was no obvious answer, but in our opinion, the Bayhawks defense has the upper hand in this matchup. It’s hard to judge defenses by simply numbers alone, but the fact that Chesapeake had two defenders in the All-Star Game to Hamilton’s one shows that they have the edge in shut-down defenders. Also not noted above is the fact that the Chesapeake defense has allowed 43 less shots than the Hamilton defense has, equal to just over three shots per game, and in a game like lacrosse, those three shots can make all the difference.
Chesapeake – Kip Turner
Hamilton – Brett Queener
Advantage – Chesapeake
While you can’t go wrong with either goalie, we’re taking the steady stopping ability of Turner over Queener, simply because he’s the more consistent goalie. Both were All-Stars in 2013, and both have had tremendous efforts at Champ Weekend before, but Queener’s week 14 performance scares us. Despite being better than any goalie in the league at making incredible, athletic saves, Queener allows too many soft goals when he’s not on his ‘A’ game. In Turner, we know we’re getting a goalie who will save the shots he should, as well as a few he probably shouldn’t, and that’s why he gets the edge in this matchup.
Based on the conclusions drawn above, Chesapeake would appear to have the upper hand. But both of these teams are extremely talented, with neither having an obvious advantage in any category. In our opinion, Chesapeake is the better team on paper. But there’s a reason the game isn’t played on paper, and as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen in the playoffs. Chesapeake looks hungry to get back to the Championship Game and repeat as MLL champs, but a strong and talented Hamilton team stands in their way. We’re picking the defending champs to get back to the title game due to the fact that they’ve been the more consistent team all season long. Be sure to tune in to CBS Sports Network at 4 P.M. EST on Saturday, August 24 to see if our predictions come true.