A road trip to start the NLL playoffs could have been avoided but luck was not on the Edmonton Rush’s side last Saturday night.
Moments after a Corey Small rang a shot off the crossbar, Calgary’s Shawn Evans potted the game-winner in overtime, leaving the Rush as a vagabonds come playoff time yet again. The Rush still haven’t hosted a playoff date in franchise history, but they can take the first step towards repeating as West Division champions and earn a shot at the Champion’s Cup for a second straight year when they trek to Washington to open the 2013 playoffs.
The disappointment of not opening the playoffs at home, let alone having home-field advantage throughout the post-season as the top overall seed, is being shoved aside as the Rush hit the trail and take aim at the Stealth.
“It’s going to be tough, they’ve played well down the stretch,” said Keenan of the Rush’s upcoming foe.
“They’re a handful on offense and they’re big and physical on defense. Washington presents a lot of problems for us so we’re going to have to be playing our best to win.”
But as good as the Stealth, they’re far from invincible. In fact, the Rush won two of the three meetings against them this season including an 18-10 whipping in Washington that saw Edmonton rookie sensation rack up nine points. Edmonton has won six of the last eight encounters with the Stealth, and enter the playoffs with a stellar 7-1 record in road games this season. Washington won the only playoff game between the teams, earning an overtime win in the 2010 West Division Final.
“I think we have a great chance,” said Keenan of his expectations for a second consecutive long playoff run for the Rush.
“We played well of late, we’re 8-3 in our last 11 games, but there’s still better in us. We need to more consistent. We’ve had some little lapses and we need to clean those up. But we have a lot of potential in the playoffs.”