Through six games, the Washington Stealth were the hottest team in the National Lacrosse League at 6-0. Since then they have been hit with the injury bug as the Stealth have dropped their last two games. This week they begin a three-game road trip in Boston at TD Banknorth Garden on February 27.
The Stealth’s depth on the defensive end will be tested once again versus the Blazers (4-4). They will be without defensemen Travis Gillespie (hand), who has missed seven games and assistant captain Kyle Sorensen (lower body), who has been out the past three games. The Stealth also awaits word on possible suspensions of Mike Grimes and Matt Beers, who were disciplined due to an altercation two weeks ago in Minnesota.
Help may come with the return of Brett Manny (elbow) and Eric Martin (leg), both could return to the lineup this week. Manney has played in just one game in 2010 after emerging as one of the league’s top young defensemen last season. Martin, the Stealth’s sparkplug out of the back door, missed last week due to a leg injury sustained in practice.
“We have to try and get healthy on the defensive end,” said Stealth Head Coach Chris Hall. “It’s given us a chance to look at our younger guys, but we have to get better on that end of the floor and the young guys need to learn quickly.”
In the six wins for the Stealth, the defense allowed just over ten goals per game. In their two losses, they have allowed over 14.
The Boston Blazers have been on a tear of late, winning four of their last five games by scoring nearly 12 goals a game. Reigning NLL Most Valuable Player Dan Dawson and second-year superstar Daryl Veltman with 37 and 33 points lead the Blazers offense, respectively. Five other Blazers have reached double-digit points this season.
The Stealth offense will have to battle one of the league’s top goaltenders in Anthony Cosmo. Cosmo is among the top five goaltenders in goals against average (4th, 9.45) and save percentage (5th, .793).
The last time these teams met was in Boston last season. It was the first of a back-to-back weekend for the Stealth, who lost to the Blazers and Titans in successive days.
“We’re looking forward to playing in Boston,” said Hall, who played for the Boston Bolts in 1975. “The Garden is a great place to play and Boston is a great city. But obviously we are looking for better results this time around. That’s no easy task facing a team with Dawson, Veltman and Cosmo.”
The game kicks off a three-game road trip for the Stealth, who won’t return home until March 27. Opening face-off is scheduled for 4:30pm PST and can be seen live on the NLL Network at NLL.com.