The calendar has flipped over to September. There's a crisp chill in the morning air. There's a hint of pumpkin spice wafting throughout the streets. Hoodies are being taken out of closets, darker beers are getting poured. Everywhere you turn, people are getting excited for the greatest season in all of sports....the PLL Playoffs.
Here's the thing--I love college football just as much as the next guy. But you and I both know that when it comes to week 1 of college football, you're not exactly watching the greatest product. More often than not you're watching one really good team destroy the shit out of a weaker opponent and the game is out of hand by halftime. It's great to get college football back in our lives, but you want drama. You want action. You want to watch games come down to the wire and be decided by the final play. And that's exactly what we're going to get out of the PLL quarterfinals this weekend in Gillette.
The first PLL games ever were played at Gillette Stadium. We had 2 overtime games and then an 11-9 final spread throughout the 2 days. So 3 games with a combined goal differential of 4. You can't really ask for much better action than that.
This weekend you can pretty much expect the exact same thing with the start of the playoffs. We have 3 games on the schedule for tomorrow. Chrome vs Chaos, Archers vs Redwoods, and atlas vs Waterdogs. (The Whipsnakes already punched their ticket to the semifinals next weekend as the 1-seed in the tournament). Already this year we've seen a 1-goal game between Archers and Redwoods, and we've seen an overtime game between Waterdogs and Atlas. Also, the Chaos might be coming into the playoffs at a dog shit 2-8 record but they're the reigning champs and they've proven over the years that they simply don't give a shit about the regular season. So as much as the 13-9 win for Chrome over Chaos earlier in the season might scream another big win for Chrome tomorrow, I'd say not so fast my friend. 3 games on the schedule tomorrow, 3 teams will see their season come to an end, and there's a chance that all 3 games come down to just 1 goal. What's better than that? Nothing I tell you.
So if you're watching the games at home, make sure you have another screen available for ESPN+ from 12-7. If you're watching at a bar, just try to see if you can Chromecast the ESPN+ stream to one of the TVs that are playing the same game. Everybody will thank you later. But yeah. The PLL Playoffs get underway tomorrow and all 3 games are going to kick ass. So you owe it to yourself and everybody else around you to make sure you have them on.
PLL Quarterfinals Schedule
#2 Chrome vs #7 Chaos // Saturday, 12pm // ESPN+
In the past, the Chaos truly live up to their namesake and have perfected the "have a really shitty regular season but then just turn it on when it actually matters" style of attack. They lost every game in the bubble only to make a run to the championship game during the elimination stage of the tournament. Last year they were one of the worst teams in the regular season and eventually went on to win their first title. And this year they went 2-8 in the regular season. It's worked for them in the past, so I guess I just have to keep believing in the playoff Chaos until they prove otherwise.
The Chrome won the regular season matchup 13-9. They are led by arguably the top 2 rookies in the league at attack, one of the best faceoff specialists in the game, for my money the best defender of the year in JT Giles-Harris, and in net Sean Sconone definitely has the ability to steal you a win. So the Chrome come into these playoffs as the 2-seed for a reason. I think the only thing that would really throw them off their game would be (pun intended) some chaos. If the Chaos start to go crazy in transition, sneak home a couple of 2-pointers, and get greasy on defense? That'll knock the Chrome out of their flow and make this a dog fight until the end. But if the Chrome have the ability to stay comfortable out there and just settle into their game, then at least on paper they should clearly win this matchup.
Lacrosse isn't played on paper though. So I love Chaos +1.5. But scared money don't make money, so Chaos ML is my personal pick.
#3 Archers vs #6 Redwoods // Saturday, 2:30pm // ESPN+
The Archers are essentially the antithesis of the Chaos. This is a team that asserts themselves as one of the most dangerous lineups in the league during the regular season, but they just haven't found a way to translate that into playoff success so far. When the offense is going, they are virtually unstoppable. Every year they have the best scoring differential in the league, and that's because when they win games they have the ability to win BIG. But when you look at where those big wins have come so far this season, it's been a lot of beating up on bad teams. Their biggest wins have come against the 7th and 8th place Chaos and Cannons. So I don't know if they just play great against bad teams and not so great against good teams, or maybe they're just a not so great team themselves. That's what these playoffs are going to determine for the Archers moving forward.
The Redwoods have been up and down this year. The start of their season was brutal and it looked like they were going to be in for a looooong summer of getting shelled. But ever since week 4 they've been playing some great ball. A 1-goal loss to the Whipsnakes, a 1-goal loss to the Archers, a 1-goal win over Atlas, a close loss to Chaos, a good win over Cannons, a 2-goal win over Waterdogs, and finally a 1-goal loss to Chrome. So they're right there in every game, they just don't get a ton of wins. Unfortunately, that's exactly how I see this game playing out. Redwoods will be able to win a bunch of faceoffs and get their offense enough touches to keep up with the Archers on the scoreboard. But they won't have Eddy Glazener on defense and that might be just enough of a crack in their shield to let Archers come out on top. So Redwoods +1.5 is the play, but Archers should be moving on.
#4 Atlas vs #5 Waterdogs // Saturday, 5:10pm // ESPN+
So far I already think there's a good chance we have two 1-goal games leading up to this 5 o' clock game. But I'd still say that Atlas and Waterdogs will be the best game of the weekend. I think both of these rosters are stacked at every area on the field. Elite attackmen, midfielders who can be big time game changers, great team defense, and then we get to goalies and faceoff. I'd give the slight advantage in cage to the Waterdogs here if Dillon Ward is able to have his best game of the summer. But I clearly have to give the faceoff advantage to Trevor Baptiste and the Atlas. So I'd say these two teams are about as tough of a matchup for each other as it gets.
The regular season matchup went to overtime and it was Jack Hannah putting away the game winner for Waterdogs in Denver. So I guess I'll just stick with my running theme here of the weekend and go Waterdogs +1.5, but honestly I have no strong feeling one way or the other on how this game will shake out. The real winner here will be you, the fans.
Have yourselves a weekend, boys and girls.