Philadelphia Wings Season Preview
Updated: Nov 28, 2019
Professional lacrosse has been absent since the MLL’s championship game on September 14. That was ages ago. Thankfully, the NLL season rapidly approaches. With three new teams (two if you don’t count Rochester) we are in the midst of unprecedented NLL popularity. This season comes loaded with questions. Will Calgary repeat? Will an American team finally win it all? How will the new franchises perform? With all these questions, it’s time for my NLL franchise previews so fans are informed before opening faceoff. Last time, we analyzed the Georgia Swarm. Now, we head to the keystone state. Let’s check out the Philadelphia Wings.
NLL lacrosse returned to Philadelphia, in 2018, after the previous franchise moved to New England. Lots of hype surrounded the return of the Philadelphia Wings; however, being an expansion team, they were expected to take their lumps. And take them they did. The Wings finished 4-14 (3-6 at home, 1-8 on the road). The only bright spot? Seven of those losses were by two goals or less. If Philly had won those, they finish 11-7. Winning close games is huge for Philly to take the next step.
The offensive talent is there. The Wings return Kevin Crowley (35 goals, 47 assists last year), Kiel Matisz (27 goals, 55 assists last year), Matt Rambo (26 goals, 30 assists last year), and PLL goaltender Blaze Riorden (23 goals, 31 assists last year).
Rambo is coming off a monstrous season in the PLL. He won the league’s MVP and it’ll be fun to see him torment opposing defenses again. If opposing d poles couldn’t stop him, I pity the poor defensemen that face him. If he could score at X by jumping over a field net, he’s going to do it a lot in box.
Blaze Riorden deserves a special shout out. The man is a freak. Can you name another professional goalie that is just as effective outside the net? Riorden could be a top three NLL goalie; however, he’s too athletic to keep in crease. It will be fun to see my favorite PLL goalie pound through opposing defenses. Goaltenders already have no regard for their bodies. Riorden takes that to the next level by throwing his body into opposing defensemen. Expect him to rough up opponents this season.
The defense has elite talent, yet needs some guys to step up. Steph Charbonneau (9 goals, 11 assists, 104 loose balls last season) and Anthony Joaquim (5 goals, 4 assists, 69 loose balls last season) will lead the Wings in torturing the opposition. Liam Patton (5 goals, 5 assists, 70 loose balls last season) looks to stay that third guy. Who can bolster those three?
My money is on Liam Byrnes (2 assists, 40 loose balls last season) or Isaiah Davis-Allen (23 loose balls last season). Both are elite field players. One must step up with 60+ loose balls to bolster the Wings’ already stout defense.
Trevor Baptiste, the best faceoff specialist in the world, is Philadelphia’s X factor. He’ll continue to win faceoffs and provide the Wings with extra possessions. Last season, Baptiste had 7 assists, 179 loose balls, and went 362-532 on faceoffs (leading the league). Baptiste must have another monster season for Philadelphia to improve in year two.
Like last year, Philadelphia has enough talent for a special year. It needs to come together. On paper, this team is stacked; yet, it didn’t produce last season. With a full season together, I expect Philadelphia’s roster to gel better. Philadelphia fans always have high expectations, and may not like reading this, but going .500 would be an excellent season. Years four and five are when the Wings should be competing for championships.
Georgia and New England are still ahead, but expect Philadelphia to beat up on New York (who’s in their shoes now). The season starts with three road games at Georgia, Calgary, and New York. The Wings must beat the Riptide or this season will go downhill fast. Upsetting Georgia or Calgary would be huge. The schedule eases up with games against Vancouver, Rochester, and New England. Through this six-game stretch, going 3-3 would be an accomplishment. Upset New England, and the Wings may have something special.
Regardless of earning a playoff spot, I predict the Wings surprise a bubble team and spoil their season. This team will be dangerous late. Remember Bret Bielema’s Arkansas squads? His teams were average early, but nobody wanted to play them in November. The same goes for this squad. Look out for the Philadelphia Wings heading into April.
Do you agree with my Philadelphia Wings takeaways? Am I wrong? Their mascot is better than Gritty, that’s for sure. Whatever your thoughts, make them known by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can subscribe to my website to comment directly onto this article. By subscribing, you will be notified whenever I publish a new article. Expect plenty more NLL content. I will be posting more of my normal content soon as well. All support is greatly appreciated! Regardless, thank you for reading and good luck to the Philadelphia Wings!