Rush face 'high-end' offence

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

The Edmonton Rush are making sure to pack two things with them as they head across the border to face the Boston Blazers on Saturday: their passports and some more offence.

After showing up for most of the first half to tie the Toronto Rock 5-5 mid-game in their season-opener last weekend, the Rush’s goal-scoring gusto all but dried up on the way to a 13-7 defeat.

“We weren’t very good in most areas, actually,” said Rush head coach Derek Keenan. “I thought we ran the floor pretty well, but other than that, we were pretty sloppy defensively.

“I thought we played well offensively for the first eight or 10 minutes and then we kind of stopped working at it and stood around a fair amount. We’re OK. Obviously we have to play a whole lot better this weekend against another very good team.”

Boston opened the season with a 10-6 victory on the road against the Philadelphia Wings.

“It wasn’t a game that was easy and we faced some adversity throughout it, but we were happy with the outcome, that’s for sure,” said Blazers head coach Matt Sawyer, who made his NLL debut behind the bench. “We didn’t feel we had our best game, but it leaves room for improvement.”

As did their roster, which was bolstered in the off-season with the additions of former Orlando Titans standout Casey Powell, who had five goals and seven points in Week 1, and ex-Calgary Roughnecks forward Josh Sanderson, who led the league with 104 points last season. He scored two goals and four assists last weekend. They join Blazers staple Dan Dawson, who lit up the Rush with five goals and two assists in their last meeting.

“Their weapons are high-end, to put it mildly, with those three as well as a good supporting cast,” said Keenan. “You’ve just got to try and take away time and space, it’s as simple as that.”

Defensively, Blazers goalie Anthony Cosmo leads the NLL with a 6.00 goals-against average and is second in save percentage with .806.

At the very least, the Rush have another game under their collective belt heading into this weekend.

“There was probably a little bit of rust. We only had one exhibition game together,” Keenan said of his preseason schedule. “We needed to play together and that was hopefully our get-it-out-of-our-system game and move on.”

STRONG WEEK: On the strength of last week’s win over the Rush, two members of the Toronto Rock earned NLL Player of the Week honours.

Goalie Bob Watson took the overall award with 36 saves on 43 shots, allowing just one on 23 of the Rush’s second-half chances.

Rock forward Aaron Pascas was named the top rookie after scoring on the first shot of his first NLL shift on the way to two goals and an assist, as well as seven loose balls.

Calgary Roughnecks forward Scott Ranger was named offensive player of the week, while goalie Mike Poulin earned defensive honours. Paul Rabil of the Washington Stealth was the top transition player.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca

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