Hamley happy to be home

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

The Edmonton Rush are not yet in panic mode.

Despite going into tonight's encounter against the Colorado Mammoth with a 2-5 record, the National Lacrosse League squad figures their playoff hopes are still very much alive.

And with five of their next six games in the cozy confines of Rexall Place, they are poised to make a move up the West Division standings.

"The next two games are huge going into the All-star break," said Rush head coach and general manager Bob Hamley.

"If we can get to 4-5, then we're back in the thick of things.

"Everybody is looking at the negatives of being 2-5, but I'm trying to build on the positives.

"We've done some good things and now have a long homestand. You have to win your home games to get in the playoffs in this league, so it's up to us now."

The Rush have played five of their first seven games on the road this season.

The club also went through a stretch of playing four games in eight days.

Two weeks ago, they fell apart in the fourth quarter on the road against the Toronto Rock. Previous to that, they were handled easily in San Jose by the Stealth.

"In the Toronto game we had a bad fourth quarter," Hamley said.

"There were some mistakes made throughout the first three quarters, but we were still only down 10-9 going into the fourth, but then we got outscored 6-0.

"As for the San Jose game, I'm not going to make any excuses. We were awful, and I thought fatigue was a little evident in the second half.

"But we have to work through that and we didn't do a very good job of that."

A week off has allowed the Rush to regroup heading into this crucial stretch of the season.

Originally, Edmonton was going to play five straight at Rexall Place, but a conflict with the HP Pavilion in San Jose forced the league to reschedule the contest for March, splitting the homestand in half.

"We actually don't mind that, because the road game now is on its own," Hamley said.

"Before, we were in San Jose and then we were coming back home to play Calgary the next night. So now we don't have that back-to-back. Back-to-backs are really tough on you, especially with the travel."

Regardless, the Rush have to take care of business at home.

Following their contest against the Mammoth, they'll play host to the Philadelphia Wings and the Calgary Roughnecks.

"Talking to some guys this week, they were all refreshed after the break, hungry and wanting to prove that we are a good team," Hamley said.

"A lot of people are doubting us right now, but the players are wanting to get back to practising to get ready to try to beat Colorado."

Having defeated the Mammoth once already this season may give the Rush some confidence heading into tonight's encounter.

They also hope to take advantage of the fact Colorado was in San Jose last night and will be flying into town this morning.

"They're playing better than the first time we saw them," Hamley said.

"But we're confident. We think we match up well with Colorado. They're coming off a travel day, coming from San Jose, so they may be a little tired and we want to make sure, being well-rested, that we go after them hard."

Heading into the weekend, the Rush were just a half a game back of the final playoff spot in the division.

However a couple of losses on this homestand could all but eliminate their chances at a post-season berth, possibly forcing Hamley to make some player-personnel changes.

"We're always trying to get better, but I really like the group we have," Hamley said.

"If we can put some good showings together, we really won't have to do anything. We're not going to panic.

"The West is tough -- everybody is in it and it's just up to us to get the job done here at home."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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