SUN Hockey Pool

Riggers must script episode of 60 Minutes

TY PILSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:41 PM ET

For those that think you can't measure a team's heart and determination, look no further than the Calgary Flames' disastrous Game 5 loss in Chicago.

They came out flatfooted, were massively outplayed and ended up losing what turned into the pivotal game of the series.

After, the players meekly offered up the excuse that they weren't ready to play.

If there's any concern for Roughnecks fans today in the Riggers' playoff tilt against the Mammoth, it's the worry they may see a repeat of sorts.

When it comes to the tangibles on the floor, the Roughnecks get full marks. When it comes to intangibles such as drive and focus, there is a cloud hanging over this team.

Calgary's one glaring weakness this season has been their inability to play a full 60 minutes in far too many games.

It's the oldest sports cliche in the book, but one that aptly describes the club's stumbles.

The Riggers come into the game as the No. 1-seed in the playoffs, thanks to a league- and franchise-best 12-4 record. The club had the NLL's top powerplay (one that clicked 60.18% of the time), had its two goalies post the loop's third and fourth-best goals-against averages, had four players in the top 16 of league scoring, and floored a cohesive, quick and highly effective pressure defence.

Calgary's four losses came by a combined total of only six goals. In the NLL, that ain't a lot. Two of those defeats were one-goal losses they suffered after controlling all game and taking a lead into the fourth quarter before falling apart.

The majority of the blame in all four losses rests on the shoulders of the team's high-powered offence.

In both one-goal losses --one to Colorado and one to Boston -- they failed to produce late and stymy the opposition's run. In the other two losses, they were held to only 10 and nine goals, respectively, by Toronto and Portland.

For a team loaded with premier forwards, those offensive outings were unacceptable. Plain and simple.

If Calgary can score 13 or 14 goals this year, they will win. The club allowed a league-low 10.4 goals-against per game during the regular season.

The Roughnecks themselves have been at a loss to explain their lapses. The players seem as confused as anyone as to why the team's attack can go ice-cold in a tilt for a prolonged stretch.

Though it looked to be a late-game malady they suffered from for much of the year, against Rochester they watched the Knighthawks explode for a 7-1 lead before taking advantage of a tired team that played the night before and clawing back for a 12-9 win.

They got lucky in that one, but in a one-and-done playoff format, you simply can't afford to have an off game.

The Roughnecks have a near-perfect scenario laid out in front them. Their 12 wins have given them home-advantage throughout the playoffs with the chance to host the Champion's Cup if they win their first two playoff games.

Heading into today's tilt, the Roughnecks are simply a better team than the injured-ravaged Mammoth in almost every statistical category.

All that, though, means squat when the whistle blows.

As with any playoff game, it comes down to who wants it more. No more excuses, no more lapses.

The Roughnecks simply have to go out and get it done.

TY.PILSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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