Blogs | 4/10/2012 4:11:24 PM | John Gurtler
“May I have your attention, please? Will the real Buffalo Bandits please stand up, please stand up, please stand up? I repeat: will the real Buffalo Bandits please stand up?”
After witnessing a rare victory lap by the Bandits following their 17-7 drubbing of the Philadelphia Wings last Saturday at First Niagara Center, many fans were left wondering if this was the same team that they had been following all season.
Okay, I slightly changed Eminem’s lyrics. Nevertheless, Saturday night’s performance by the real Bandits was spectacular. We’ve seen bits and pieces of this brilliance for a handful of games, but last Saturday night? Truly a complete game. The goaltending, defense, transition, discipline, offense – you name it. The game was brilliant.
Bottle it, pack it and memorize it. Re-run the CBS Sports Network broadcast until the digital projector burns out. And while you’re at it, re-issue the black and pink uniforms!
Now we’re talking “Bandit Ball.”
Critics may say that Philadelphia wasn’t on their game and nowhere near the level of effectiveness that they’ve shown this season. No thanks, Debbie Downer.
How about just relishing in the moment and thinking positive from here through the end of the playoffs? Then you can pull the tab on a Genny Cream Ale and be critical.
This is what it’s going to take if the Bandits want to finish the regular season strong and qualify for the playoffs. From there, it only takes three straight victories to win it all.
It’s going to be tough because every team in the NLL is doing the same thing.
But now we’ve seen what this Bandits team can do – and it’s only going to get better. I can’t help but think the talent and dedication of this team will reap a positive harvest in this “mini-season” quest for the playoffs. You’ve seen it, read it and heard it all season.
There are three games remaining against teams that are trying to do the same thing (Edmonton, Rochester and Washington). They, too, can do the same thing that the Bandits did to the Wings. Each of Buffalo’s upcoming opponents has the depth and talent to beat anyone, but that’s the way the year has gone in the NLL.
It’s just that, from here on out, the Bandits have to do it better. Just three games, each taken one at a time.
“I think so, I think you have to look at it that way,” said Bandits defenseman and captain Chris White. “[We] need to take each game one at a time. The Eastern Division is very tight right now, so [with] a couple wins down the stretch, we could position ourselves pretty good. The way things have gone, it’s a positive thing.”
Clearly, if the Bandits play a full 60 minutes like they did last Saturday night, they can beat anybody.
“Yeah, I think so,” said White, a 10-year NLL veteran. “I think we’ve got to have that in our mindset – that we’re the better team. I know it hasn’t gone that way for many games this season, but it’s a tight game, a lot of parody in the league, so on any night, you’ve got to show up and give 120 percent.
We must bring our hard-nosed game. Just [keep the] smarts, stay out of the box, and play five-on-five. I think we’ve proven over the season that, if we stay five-on-five, we can dominate offenses. That’s what we need to do. It’s only when we get into penalty trouble that the ball starts going into the back of our net.”
Bandit Ball has that rough and tough element to it, which can sometimes push the envelope when it comes to the rules.
“We need to be smarter,” White admitted. “[In] certain instances, we’re attacking the head instead of the body, which eliminates momentum. When we’re over-pursuing, that’s when we get into trouble because we’re chasing as opposed to controlling where our opponents are going.”
Bandits general manager and head coach Darris Kilgour approached his team before Saturday night’s game and was straightforward with his message.
“It’s a new season, a four-game season right now,” Kilgour said. “We always break the season down into four sets of four and we are on our last stretch. We sort of dug ourselves a hole, but you know what? We can still dig ourselves out of it.
I feel we can beat every team in the league, but I really believe we can beat these teams in front of us. If we can do that, we can be assured [of] a playoff spot, if not, [then] at least second place. If we can keep winning, we’re still right there. We definitely have a game plan and we need to stick to it. Guys have to believe in it and go out there and execute it. We hold our own destiny in our hands. If we get it together, we’ll be okay.”
The Bandits have drawn the wrath of long road trips to end the 2012 regular season. Over the course of the next three weeks, the team will cross two and three time zones, respectively. This weekend, the Bandits travel to Edmonton to take on the Rush, and then return home for their April 21 regular season home finale against the Rochester Knighthawks. Buffalo will finish the regular season with another cross-country trek, this time to Seattle, Washington, to play the Stealth in Everett on April 28.
In conclusion, I think Slim Shady has taken a seat. And the real Bandits have stood up.
Radio coverage of Saturday night’s game from Edmonton will start with the Bandits pregame show at 8:30 p.m on WWKB 1520 AM before the 9 p.m. opening faceoff.
In addition to the black and pink uniforms worn by the team on Saturday night to support cancer research initiatives, there was also a pink ribbon patch above the players’ hearts as a tribute to Tommy Montour’s mother. The initials “GRM” were worn in loving memory of Gail Robin Montour, who passed away in early March. An online auction of the black and pink jerseys will continue until Sunday, April 15. Click back to the Bandits.com home page for more information on the bidding process.