It takes a heck of a lot more than a spectacular offensive performance to please Terry Sanderson. On a night when his Toronto Rock improved to 2-0 for the first time since 2000 with a 19-15 win over the expansion Minnesota Swarm in the home opener at the Air Canada Centre, the general manager/coach shifted the focus to the lacrosse team's shaky defensive effort.
Never mind, by the way, that the Rock was missing two of its key defenders -- captain/defending National Lacrosse League MVP Jim Veltman (hamstring) and Glenn Clark (knee).
"The offensive part was good, but let's be honest. Defensively, that was horse(crap)," Sanderson said. "We won't be able to defend like that in this league and come out with wins. We're happy with the two points, but I don't think that was anywhere near our effort in Buffalo (when the Rock beat the Bandits 15-13 in the season opener)."
The ACC crowd of 17,229 probably didn't have nearly as many complaints. The Rock topped last season's game-high goal total of 18, while Blaine Manning tied a team record with six goals, including a behind-the-back beauty, after not scoring in Buffalo. Aaron Wilson scored five goals and newcomer Josh Sanderson added eight assists.
But it's a good sign that Terry Sanderson is challenging the team after a close win against a decent-but-beatable expansion Swarm squad (1-1).
"Offensively we scored 19 goals, which is fantastic, but we also gave up a lot," Manning said. "We didn't get off the floor and we gave them a lot of transition goals and that's our responsibility. We've got to clean that up."
Along with the transition game, the Rock needs to work on five-on-five defence. Too many times, the Swarm had open looks from the slot. Goalie Bob Watson wasn't great, but neither were his defensive teammates.
Still, one can't ignore the much-improved Rock offence, something Sanderson was looking for in the off-season after tearing apart the roster.
"It's a nice change for a team that's been known for its defence," Rock defender Dan Ladouceur said. "Now, we've got to be respected offensively. But we've got to step it up and do our part because those guys (the forwards) are definitely pulling their weight."
The Rock elevated its game after the Swarm took its first lead of the game -- 13-12 -- in the third quarter. The Rock capped the third with a three-goal run in the final two minutes.
"I'm not trying to sound negative on a win," Terry Sanderson said. "Two points is good, but that's not good enough for us to be happy about."
The Rock hopes to have Clark and Veltman back Saturday for a game in Philadelphia against the Wings (1-1).