Idle Rush watch intently

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 PM ET

EDMONTON - There are big playoff implications for the Edmonton Rush this weekend even though the team is idle.

Having wrapped up their regular season last weekend with a victory over the Washington Stealth, the Rush still don’t know where they’ll finish in the NLL West Division standings.

The Rush could finish anywhere from first to third, and still have an outside shot shot at the overall regular-season title.

“The way it works out, really the Friday night game between Calgary and Colorado is the most important game,” said Rush head coach and general manager Derek Keenan. “If Calgary wins, we finish third, no matter what happens on Saturday. If they lose, we finish second at worst, finishing ahead of them in the standings. Then we would host them in the first round of the playoffs.”

If Calgary loses in Colorado on Friday and Washington falls to Rochester on Saturday, then the Rush would finish first in the division and host the Minnesota Swarm in the first round of the playoffs.

The Rush could also finish first overall if the Orlando Titans lose both of their games this weekend. That would give the Rush home-field advantage through the playoffs.

“To be honest, other than having a home playoff game, which would be great for our fans and for our ownership, because it’s been such a struggle, we’ll play anywhere and we think we can beat anybody,” said Keenan. “We’re pretty confident, we like playing on the road, we seem to come together well on the road. We’d love to be at home, but if we’re not, we’re not, we’ll play whoever it is.”

The Rush are taking part in the league playoffs for the first time in franchise history. They were on the outside looking in through their first four years, but finished with a 10-6 record this season.

Of those 10 wins, six have been one-goal games, which could bode well heading into the post season.

“It’s important to know that we can win those games,” Keenan said. “The thing about this group, is that we’ve been down a stretch of games where it could go either way, but we’ve won them because we have so many guys that step up to the plate and want to make plays and want to be the guy that helps win the game.”

Normally the Rush would rather head into the playoffs straight after playing the previous week. However, with a number of nagging injuries to some key members of the club, they welcome having the final weekend of the NLL regular season off.

The Rush will get together on Thursday to practise in preparation for their first playoff encounter next weekend. The post-season format is a one-game elimination, which essentially puts the league championship up for grabs.

“That’s the nature of the beast in the NLL,” Keenan said. “A few years ago when I was in Portland, we finished 6-10, in fourth place and we were one goal away from winning the whole thing. We lost by one in Buffalo and we probably outplayed them for three quarters of the game. It’s all about getting in. Anything can happen after that.”

Making the playoffs was a goal for this year’s edition of the club, but it was not the only goal. The team is confident it can bring a title to the city.

“We’ve talked about this, we’ve accomplished one goal only,” Keenan said.

“Our goal from the beginning is to win a championship. We’re only two-thirds of the way there. The other third is broken up into one playoff game at a time. It’s quite and experience, because there is so much on the line and there is so much desperation in play. It’s pretty awesome to be in the NLL playoffs. It’s so in the moment. There is no tomorrow, it’s win or go home.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos