TORONTO - After a disappointing loss to the Boston Blazers last week, the Rock is looking to avoid being roughed up by the Roughnecks at home on Saturday night.
After last Saturday’s 9-7 loss in Boston, Toronto (4-2) will put its division-leading record against best-in-the-west Calgary (4-2) in a tilt that promises to be a good one.
“We both find ourselves in first place in our divisions right now,” Rock general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson said.
“Whether we deserve to be there or whether Calgary deserves to be there, people are going to have their own arguments ... We just like the fact that we’re gonna be going up against arguably the best D in the league.”
One area Toronto will need to improve on if it wants to compete with Calgary’s lockdown defence is putting the ball in the net.
The team has scored only 15 goals in its past two games after scoring a combined 29 in its two previous matches.
“If I [said] it’s not a concern I’d be lying,” Sanderson said. “We have to give credit to Buffalo and to Boston ... on how they did defend us but we do feel that ... the guys have gotta just work at it all the time and not just for a couple shifts.”
The Rock needs sophomore Stephan Leblanc to bounce back from a disappointing game against Boston that saw him score only once to go with two assists.
While Leblanc has remained productive by moving the ball well and going to the net, the team needs him to return to the early season form that saw him bury at least three goals per contest through the team’s first four games.
Another area in which Toronto needs to improve is on the man advantage, where it sits dead last in the league with a 21.4% conversion rate.
“All we can do is put in our time,” Sanderson said. “From being one of the best power play units last year to one of the worst if not the worst in the league percentage-wise this year ... If we had an answer for that we’d be on our way.”
Saturday’s game against Calgary will be a test of the Toronto’s resiliency, as it has yet to lose back-to-back games and still sits atop the NLL power rankings.
Calgary has played the role of Cinderella thus far, with league-wide expectations low heading into the 2011 campaign.
Leading the charge for the Roughnecks will be forward Dane Dobbie and transition player Geoff Snider.
Snider, playing in his first year for the Roughnecks after four seasons with the Wings in Philadelphia, leads the league with 77 loose balls collected through six games.
Dobbie, the fourth-year player out of Burnaby, B.C., leads Calgary with 28 points on the year.
The game marks the first time the two teams will face each other this year, but there is plenty of familiarity — and respect — between the two clubs.
“They’re the No. 1-ranked team in the league, so we’re gonna do what we can to bring as much respect as we can,” Calgary head coach Dave Pym said. “(Rock coaches) Troy (Cordingley) and Terry (Sanderson) were mentors to a number of us in Calgary and the greatest respect that we can give them is to come out and give them the best game we can and that’s what we intend to do.”
Game time is 7 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre with the game broadcast live on TSN2.