As MLL Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink approaches, our MLL Insiders haven taken a deeper look into this week's matchups. For our first analysis we look at semifinal number one between the Denver Outlaws and the Charlotte Hounds. 2013 presented a year of firsts for these two teams, Denver recorded the league's first undefeated regular season, while Charlotte was able to capture its first playoff appearance in club history. Let's take a look at the numbers and see who has the advantage in 2013's first playoff game.
• 62% of all team shots are on goal.
• Ended the season third in the league in shooting percentage
• Matt Danowski -- 49 points (33g, 10a, 6 2PTG)
• Ryan Young -- 40 points (30g, 10a)
• Peet Poillon -- 33 points (23g, 5a, 5 2PTG)
• Team recorded 15 total two-point goals in regular season play
• Scored 64 goals in their last five games of the season.
• Shot 31% in the final five games of the regular season.
• Poillon leads in the team in points (18) when they sport their away jerseys.
• Hounds assisted on just under half of their goals scored.
• Chris Bocklet -- 55 points (42g, 13a)
• Drew Snider -- 46 points (31g, 14a, 1 2PTG)
• Jeremy Sieverts -- 44 points (27g, 11a, 62 PTG)
• Led the league in shots taken and shooting percentage in the regular season.
• Have eight scorers in double digits on the season when considered the “home” team.
• Distribution of points tends to fall off after their leading scorers.
• Averaging 13.8 points per game in their last five contests.
Advantage -- Charlotte
While everyone looked at the Denver Outlaws offense in awe this past season, many overlooked the talent that was coming together in Charlotte. Matt Danowski anchors a group of talented young attackmen, including the world record holder for lacrosse’s fastest shot, Mike Sawyer. Another reason why the Hound’s offense is so impressive is their transition game. Mason Poli, a rookie LSM out of Bryant University, has proved his worth to this team on both ends of the field racking up 11 points from the wing position on faceoffs. Look for Charlotte to move the ball effectively in this one and test Warrior Goalie of the Year Jesse Schwartzman.
• Allowed an average of 18.5 goals against in both matchups with Denver this season.
• Allowed five goals to Denver on 13 man-up opportunities (62% kill rate)
• Let up a combined 21 points to Bocklet and Sieverts (15 goals)
• Allowed 27 points to Charlotte in the first two meetings of 2013
• Only allowed one double digit scorer in both games combined (Danowski, 10)
• Killed 80% of Charlotte’s man-up opportunities (8-10)
Advantage -- Denver
Defense is something that isn’t always appreciated in MLL, but the performance of the 2013 Outlaws defense is one for the record books. Their outstanding team defense approach, combined with great communication skills, are the reason why the Denver-D gets the nod in this week’s matchup. Defensive player of the year candidate Lee Zink will have the tough task of slowing down one of the many talented players that Charlotte has to offer, but don’t expect this tested veteran to roll over, Zink is still seeking his first championship as a member of the undefeated Outlaws.
• Adam Ghitelman allowed 16 goals in one start vs. Denver this season (16 saves, .500 save percentage)
• Has given up two overtime goals this season (0-2 in overtime games)
• Ghitelman currently stands at a 12.10 GAA
• League’s only below 50% save percentage goaltender this season.
• Made 156 saves in 2013.
• Jesse Schwartzman, 2013 Warrior Goalie of the Year.
• Set league record for goals against average (9.67)
• Stood in net for all 14 of Denver’s wins in 2013
• Made 184 saves this season (13.14 per game)
• Allowed just three two-point goals this summer.
Advantage -- Denver
Despite Schwartzman getting the advantage in this matchup, lacrosse fans should know that the goalie position is one that can change from week to week. Adam Ghitelman has been a stud in net this year for the Hounds and should not be overlooked just because he is a second year player. Ghitelman’s college career at Virginia exposed him to the big game environment that Championship Weekend has to offer, so don’t be surprised if number 8 plays the game of his life this weekend. One thing Schwartzman will have to deal with this weekend that his opponent will not is pressure. The veteran netminder is inching closer to the “best goaltender in league history” conversation, but needs to bring that coveted Steinfeld Trophy back to Denver for the first time to tighten up his resume.
While on paper it would appear that Denver has a clear advantage in this matchup, past MLL Championship Weekends have shown us that anything can happen once the league’s championship is on the line. Charlotte has nothing to lose making the playoffs for the first time in club history, while Denver looks to capture the coveted title that they have come so close to winning several times before. Be sure to tune in and catch the action on ESPN2 at 1 P.M EST, Saturday August 24. Also, be sure to stay tuned to MajorLeagueLacrosse.com as we break down semifinal number two, between the Hamilton Nationals and Chesapeake Bayhawks.