By Sean Desmond | 5/30/13 2:00 PM
Boston Cannons at Denver Outlaws
Friday, May 31, 2013 – 9:30 p.m. (ET) – Shuart Stadium
The Boston Cannons face a tough test to climb back into the playoff picture as they square off with the undefeated Denver Outlaws Friday night, at 9:30 p.m. ET at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.
This clash of MLL elites, which will be broadcast live on YouTube, holds more than just an opportunity for another win, a victory for either team could set the tone for a potential championship run later this season.
The trip begins a string of three road games for the 2011 MLL champs, a trip that will likely set the tone for the remainder of their season. Friday night also represents the second leg in a three game home stand for the Outlaws, the first of which ended in a 20-7 victory over Rochester on May 18.
After an 0-3 start, the Boston Cannons were finally able to notch their first win in a thrilling over time victory over the defending MLL champion Chesapeake Bayhawks on May 18
The back story of these two teams has proven to be much different in 2013 than in years past. While Denver has maintained its tradition of early season dominance, Boston has slipped into a place unfamiliar to the franchise and its fan base. The Cannons, however, have never lost in Denver and will look to continue that positive streak.
Led offensively by perennial All-Star Paul Rabil, who has 18 points on the season, the Cannons appear to have developed an offensive rhythm also thanks to team captain and All-Time MLL scoring leader Ryan Boyle, who was instrumental in their win over Chesapeake.
Last year’s MLL runner-up, Denver continues to show that they belong in the conversation as the best team in the league. Denver boasts two of the top five scorers so far this summer and continues to demonstrate offensive dominance. Chris Bocklet and Brendan Mundorf, who have 17 and 14 points respectively, have been a nightmare for defenses through the first four weeks of the season.
This matchup will be a test for both sides, as Boston continues to have questions regarding the goalie position. The Cannon’s rocky start has been associated with defensive breakdowns and instability in goal, two areas that the Outlaws’ snipers will look to exploit. Jordan Burke, who was lost in week two after suffering an injury, may be available for the start Friday but veteran backup Mike Gabel is ready to retain his role as starter after filling in for Burke the last two games.
Opposing Burke or Gabel will be MLL veteran Jess Schwartzman, a rock solid goaltender who sits fourth in the league in both major statistical categories for his position. Denver’s 4-0 start has much to do with their veteran’s play in net. Schwartzman has posted a .542 save percentage, and is allowing just over 10 goals per game. That average has proven to be enough of a cushion for Denver’s offense to take control of the first four games of the season.
Boston’s challenge lies not just in pulling out a victory against one of the league’s best, but doing so in the hostile environment of Sports Authority Field at Mile High.