NLL East Division Preview: Rochester Knighthawks
With the NLL's best goalie in Matt Vinc, Rochester has a chance to become the first team to three-peat as league champion. (Photo by Larry Palumbo)
2013 Record: 8-8
Playoffs: Won divisional semifinal 10-8 at home over Philadelphia; won division final 12-10 at home over Minnesota; won final 11-10 over Washington in Langley, B.C.
Skinny: Coach Mike Hasen proved he's a master at getting his team to peak at the right time. The way in which he tinkered with his lineup during the first half of the season made symphony orchestra maestros jealous. His squad sputtered offensively at times but was full throttle when it mattered most, and the defense allowed the fewest goals against in the NLL.
Rochester scored 43 fewer goals than offensive leader Calgary, but that's not a major concern for Hasen.
"Our offense moves the ball so well," Hasen said. "It's never on one guy to put the ball in the net. They do it by committee. That's what we want"
"We pride ourselves in the back end, and as long as that holds up, we're not concerned about what the numbers look like," he added. "At the end of the day, it's wins and losses that count most."
With goalie Matt Vinc sporting the league's best save percentage, there's no need to fret.
Rochester didn't have a first-round draft pick, which was just fine because cracking this lineup is a long shot for any rookie, especially with an 18-man lineup. But general manager Curt Styres always promotes intense competition for jobs to keep everybody sharp.
Neil Stevens' NLL 2014 Season Preview (in projected order of finish)
NLL East Preview
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"It really is wide open," Hasen said. "We're looking to improve anywhere and everywhere we can. If draft picks come in and earn a spot, they're getting it. We're looking to win again, and win again at all costs."
The Knighthawks have a shot at becoming the first team to win the pro indoor title three years in a row.
"We're excited, as I know every team is," Hasen said. "Curt has said it: 'We're another year more familiar with each other and we're looking to continue to build on that.' Sure, we know we're not going to sneak up on anybody. At this point, every team is looking at winning the championship come May."