Earlier today, the PLL announced their 2022 slate of games. This is a few weeks removed from revealing their weekend pit stops.
The size of the league prevents much intrigue or trash talking teams for loading up on cupcakes, but there are still match ups worth mentioning.
June 4 Whipsnakes vs. Chaos
Largely due to injury, the Whipsnakes finished the second half of the season with a 3-4 record including a resounding 14-9 loss to the Chaos in the title game. They will start 2022 as the hunter rather than the hunted. Does that give them a little more fuel this spring? Much like the Chaos, key pieces of their offense play in the NLL. Will they have enough recovery time? Here’s hoping Matt Rambo is healthy from start to finish this year. He’s one of the key pieces for the league. If they had to play this game today, do they know who gets the nod between the pipes? There is a very real reality the Chaos set the field on fire and the Whips question their goalie situation for the rest of the season.
The Chaos are no longer the team that may or may not have tanked in bubble pool play. Everyone knows who they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Will teams be able to stop it in 2022 with more film available? They have to dress Tehoka for this game, no? Whose spot does he take? What if Curtis Dickson is available this year? Whose spot does he take? Their offense is so loaded if you sneeze incorrectly in the shootaround you might lose your roster spot.
Prediction: Chaos embrace the challenge of defending their title and start off fast in 2022
July 23 Redwoods vs Atlas
Who was more ahead of schedule in 2021? The Atlas or the Archers? Based on the late season head to head match up, you’d have to say the Dogs. This year though Teat won’t have to deal with Covid and Canada issues so he’ll be able to join the team from day one. Remember what he did last year in limited time? You’ve seen what he’s been doing in the NLL this season? Can they get consistent goaltending? Will Trevor Baptiste be Trevor Baptiste of 2021 or 2020? The face off nerds deserve Irelan vs. Baptiste.
The Redwoods new secondary midfield will have had almost two months to figure things out by the time this game takes place. Kyle Harrison, Joe Walters (criminally under utilized as a lefty) and Kevin Unterstein have retired. Do the Woods find someone who can give them more than 5 points (3 goals, 1 two pointer, 1 assist) on 17 shots? Or, does that production get absorbed by the first wave? The reason we are wondering about secondary scoring is because we aren’t asking about the fit of a blockbuster trade acquisition for the first time in two years. They got incredible production and efficiency from Myles Jones and Sergio Perkovic, but Rob Pannell needed 68 shots to score 13 goals. Their stars haven’t been on the same page at the same time.
Prediction: Younger, faster Bulls roll
August 20 Archers vs. Waterdogs
Unlike the Whipsnakes, the Waterdogs finished their backend of 2022 on fire until being reminded by the aforementioned Whips that they hadn’t quite ascended to elite status. We see this all the time in sports where a young team has to have that playoff failure so they can make the jump the following year. The Waterdogs went 4-2 after being boat raced by the Archers. This year they’ll have to wait until the final regular game of the season to see if they have the ability to either slow down or score with Team Schreiber.
By this point of the season, we will know exactly who their goalie is…right? Or, do they share the net again? The PLL is very much like the NFL. Any given Sunday. The other guys are paid too, but the Archers could have had a completely different 2021 if they had beaten the Chrome and the Cannons during the middle third of their season. They then would have avoided the Chaos in the first round of the playoffs. The best NFL teams don’t lose multiple games against inferior opponents. Finishing with the Waterdogs in 2022 means we will know if the Archers window is getting set to close (Schreiber just turned 30).
Prediction: Schreiber starts to turn it on prior to the post season, listening to Rabil’s advice