- ReLaxing Luke
San Diego Seals Season Outlook
The 2019/2020 NLL season has begun. Lots of exciting storylines to follow! If you don’t remember why I’m substituting my season previews with outlooks, please read my Rochester or Halifax article. They explain in full. With that out of the way, it’s time to leave the cold confines of Halifax and head to sunny southern California. Get those swimsuits and mimosas ready as we check on San Diego.
The Seals had an incredible inaugural season. Not only did they make the playoffs, they hosted. Unfortunately, the dream ended at the hands of Calgary. The Seals were oh so close to playing Colorado in round two with an 11-12 loss. While a heartbreaking loss, fans were excited to see the Seals make another jump in year two.
What’s the hardest thing to accomplish in the movie business? Making a sequel that’s better than the original! The Seals are learning this the hard way. Currently, San Diego is 0-2 and staring down 0-3.
The season began with a spirited 10-13 loss in Buffalo. No shame in losing to the league’s runner up. Game two is a different story. Toronto, looking for their first win, kicked the Seals back into the Pacific. The final? 6-13. To make matters worse, attendance was announced at 5,414. The Seals averaged 7,769 in 2018/19. A disturbing decline. The Seals need some wins, pronto, to boost attendance.
I didn’t expect an 0-2 start. At worst, I saw 1-1. To make matters confounding, San Diego is loaded with a plethora of talent. At forward, the Seals have instant impact players in Wesley Berg (6 goals, 5 assists), Zack Greer (2 goals, 5 assists), Kyle Buchanan (2 goals, 4 assists), and PLL All-Star Connor Fields (3 goals, 2 assists). That’s a lineup anyone would take. It must have hurt seeing Dan Dawson (Toronto) tally 3 goals and 1 assist against them. It was a mistake for San Diego to let him go. Dawson leaving hurts, but Austin Staats being MIA is worse. Staats is an absolute gamechanger. I’ve seen Staats in person. Few players impress me more. Staats suffered a season ending injury in 2018 and hasn’t returned since. His health is still a mystery. Seals fans should pray for a quicker recovery. Staats is worth an extra 2-3 wins.
San Diego has dazzled at the faceoff dot. Jeremy Noble (2 goals, 1 assist) is 16-21 on faceoffs. Meanwhile, Brandon Clelland is 17-29. Good numbers for both. Those extra possessions will turn into extra goals down the stretch.
Defensively, San Diego has some dudes. Captain Brodie Merrill has been his usual self with 16 loose balls and 4 turnovers. He’s been supported by Mark Glicini (11 loose balls, 1 turnover) and Cameron Holding (15 loose balls, 3 turnovers). With talent like this, it’s mystifying that San Diego’s defense has been porous at times. After watching their game against Toronto, I noticed defensemen standing around. Players lacked effort and looked lazy. Bad defensive positioning led to easy Toronto goals. Poor effort and positioning are a recipe for disaster.
Put that together, and you’ll know why goaltenders Nick Damude (.774 save percentage) and Frank Scigliano (.723 save percentage) are struggling. They can only bail San Diego out so many times. These guys are talented, but they aren’t gods. The defense has to play better.
The Seals have been consistently inconsistent. They were tied 4-4 at halftime against Buffalo, but lost 6-9 in the second half. Against Toronto, it was 2-8 at half. They played better in the second half. They only lost 4-5. In both games, the Seals have taken a half off. You can’t be a one-half team and expect to win.
With all their troubles, San Diego could still be undefeated with an improve power play. Against Buffalo, San Diego went 3-6. Score on all 6 and it’s a tie game. San Diego was a paltry 2-7 against Toronto. Go 7-7 and it’s 11-13. Anything can happen in a two-goal game.
A quick fix is necessary as San Diego faces three consecutive western division opponents (Calgary, at Vancouver, Saskatchewan). Lose all three and they’ll be buried in the standings; however, all is not lost. The Seals have enough talent to turn things around. The issues can be corrected. Effort can be brought up. Poor positioning is an easy fix. Missed goals will start going in. I have no doubt San Diego will get hot. It’s a matter of when, not if. The problem is, will “when” be too late?
On a side note, San Diego deserves credit for scheduling two neutral site games. San Diego “hosts” Colorado in Las Vegas on February 1. What a venue! This game needs our support as this may be a league test to justify Las Vegas hosting an NLL franchise. Less flashy, but still important, the Seals host Vancouver at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on February 22. In two games, the Seals make NLL history by playing in new venues. No NLL game has been played in Las Vegas or a military base. San Diego needs to have a good February, as they’re playing a pivotal role, this season, in growing the game.
All in all, the Seals have flaws that can be fixed. They have enough talent to improve and make a run at the playoffs. They won’t stay in a slump forever. The issue is they play in the league’s toughest division. With teams like Calgary and Saskatchewan, you can’t afford to play poorly for long. Stay with these guys though. The games are a blast and Seals management is building something special. Keep supporting them, or you risk being a bandwagoner when they get hot.
Do you agree with my San Diego season outlook? Disagree? Do you not think they’re in a slump? Whatever your thoughts, air them by connecting with me on Twitter or Instagram. You can also comment directly onto this article by subscribing. By subscribing, you’ll be notified whenever I publish a new article. Any and all support is appreciated. Regardless, thank you for reading! Good luck to the San Diego Seals!