Three plus six for Rush

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Chris McElroy can do the math.

So can Randy Daly and Paul Day.

Starting tonight against the Portland Lumberjax, the Edmonton Rush play three straight games at Rexall Place before staring at six straight games on the road.

With just a one-game lead on Portland for the final playoff spot in the NLL's West Division and a brutal 1-9 franchise road record, the Rush know the pressure will be turned to a new level tonight.

"They are huge for us," said McElroy, a Rush defenceman, on the three-game string at home.

"Six straight on the road is pretty tough with all the flying around.

"It's brutal."

With a 2-4 record, Edmonton sits fourth in the West Division, already 4 1/2 games behind Colorado for first place.

But fifth-place Portland is in worse shape. This will mark the Lumberjax's ninth game of the season - and another loss would be a major blow.

"It is a four-point game," continued McElroy.

"If we can beat Portland it will definitely do some damage to the (LumberJax) ego."

Added Day, the Rush head coach: "We are looking at this (weekend) like a playoff game and we're playing really well."

Indeed, if it weren't for a crossbar save by the Arizona net last weekend, the Rush would be riding a two-game winning streak.

"With Arizona the last two weekends they have been two of our best games to date in the organization," continued Day.

But there is one significant problem that continues to haunt the Rush: scoring.

On average, the Rush is the second-lowest scoring team in the entire league.

Averaging just 10.5 goals a game, only Portland is worse - averaging just 9.6 goals.

Day believes part of the problem is chemistry.

"We have quite a few new guys still in the lineup and new to each other," he said.

"I think every game our scoring percentage is getting better. The big thing right now is shooting percentage.

"You want to be 75% on net for shooting percentage- we were 65% at home (two weeks ago) and 68% last week (on the road).

"We need more balls on the net."

The Rush only has three players - Chris Gill (14), Dan Stroup (12) and Jimmy Quinlan (11) - in double digits for goals.

Daly also believes part of the reason for the low totals lies in the first quarter.

"We seem to get off to a slow start. I am not certain why," said Daly. "But we seem to give teams a lead before we get going."

The good news for the Rush is that Portland could be the perfect opponent, as the Lumberjax enter Rexall Place on a six-game losing streak.

"The message (to the players) is: There are no miracle deals or colossal trades out there," said Portland coach Derek Keenan.

"We have yet to put a complete game together."

LATE HIT: Andrew Turner will have company at the NLL all-star game in Portland next month.

Rush leading scorer Chris Gill has been named a reserve for the West Division club, marking his third all-star appearance.

"Chris has been everything we had hoped for when we brought him here for and more both on and off the floor," said A.J. Jomha, a Rush assistant coach and the club's director of operations.


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