Jimmy talks trash

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Jimmy Quinlan didn't see it coming.

Crosschecks to the back of the head have a tendency to catch lacrosse players off guard.

Yet the hit administered by Chicago Shamrox transition player Bryan Kazarlan last week did more than just send the Edmonton Rush forward sprawling. It was an indication of how dangerous opponents consider Quinlan. He's been that good this season.

"With Randy Daly out of the lineup Jimmy is one of those guys - regardless of whether he scores or not - he gets a ton of loose balls and he's an energy guy," said Rush head coach and general manager Paul Day. "They went after him from start to finish last week. He created a ton of opportunities."

Quinlan is having another strong season for the Rush. Heading into tonight's encounter against the Calgary Roughnecks, the local product has already matched last year's point totals.

In 12 games, he has 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points.

Last week in the victory over the Shamrox, Quinlan had a pair of goals and an assist. He also led the team with 14 shots on net.

Hence the reason why the Shamrox were trying to get in his kitchen.

"I play my best when I'm in the other team's face," Quinlan said. "They were taking exception to some of the things I had done on the power play. But I felt all right after the game. It's always better when you win."

Quinlan is considered one of the best trash-talkers in the league. But it's his game that has garnered the type of attention reserved for star players.

The Shamrox slashed him, crosschecked him, double-teamed him and probably even called him names.

It all came to a head when Kazarlan spotted Quinlan standing in front of the Shamrox's net and hammered him from behind.

"That was a vicious check to the back of the head," Day said. "We were pretty worried about him at that time. But he went back out and continued to battle. He got hit a couple of more times, but all in all, I think he came out of it pretty well."

Quinlan, 25, is in his third National Lacrosse League season. The five-foot-11, 190-pound forward started his career with the Toronto Rock where he scored six goals and added four assists in eight games.

He was traded to the Rush after winning a league title with Toronto.

Last year he was the only player to register at least a point in every game for the Rush, finishing fourth in team scoring.

"I was a little sore after the game," Quinlan said. "But I was able to ice it. It's good that I had a week to recover so I'll be all right."

It's no coincidence the Rush win when Quinlan is at his best.

He scored five goals in the team's season-opening victory over the Philadelphia Wings. He's also contributed with 10 points in three of the team's other victories.

Quinlan has only been kept off the scoreboard once this year - a 9-8 victory over the Portland LumberJax.

This weekend the Rush will need another big performance out of him, travelling to face the Roughnecks, then heading off to visit the San Jose Stealth.

Both teams currently occupy the final two playoff spots in the West Division.

"We have to take it one game at a time," Quinlan said. "Our goal is to still get back to .500. We should be there right now in reality, but we didn't close out the game against New York in order to get it.

"Once we get back to .500 we'll go forward from there. We know where we sit in the standings and we just have to take it one game at a time."

Sitting a game back of the Stealth and a game and a half back of the Roughnecks heading into the weekend, the Rush need two wins to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.

They'll close out the season with back-to-back encounters against the LumberJax and the Roughnecks.

"I always find it an advantage to play back-to-back," Quinlan said. "Even though your legs might be a bit tired in the second game, you're smarter with the decisions you make with the ball. I definitely see it as an advantage because your skills are sharp."


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