Bridges.

“Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to figure out which bridges to cross and which bridges to burn. I’m the one you burn.” – Clive Owen, The International.

The quote is great. The movie sucks.

So my handlers at the Cannons have asked me to give an honest assessment of the Cannons season so far. Actually, they asked me to do a report card of sorts; a request likely tied to the furor I created when I gave each MLL team a grade for their 2010 draft this week over at Inside Lacrosse.

I see before me a bridge. I’m tired and I have matches in my hand.

Let’s explore what happens when I go against type though, shall we?

The Cannons season is 1/3 over. Yes, 1/3 of the games for the 2010 MLL season have been played. There are 12 games this year and four are in the books. It’s a short season, what can I say? The Cannons have won two of their games and lost two of their games. Let’s begin with the wins, since that’s how the season started.

Denver came to town with a fairly substantial chip on their burly shoulders to start the season. The Cannons may have lost to the Outlaws in the playoffs last year, but one of their best victories of 2009 came at the expense of the Outlaws in the infamous Fourth of July game. IN the 2010 season opener, the Cannons used an explosive second and third quarters to overcome the Outlaws’ one goal lead at the end of the first quarter. Boston scored ten goals in the middle periods but mustered just two tallies in the fourth quarter. In other words – the Cannons made it interesting, if only for a moment.

The stat everyone goes back to is the “Lost every game by one goal in 2009” whenever a game gets tight in the fourth quarter. To their credit, Boston did a great job of overcoming their fourth quarter woes by winning their first two games, even though they were outscored by both the Outlaws and the Machine. However, the second game against the homeless Machine was unfortunately an omen of things to come.

Again, the Cannons belted out goals like a sub-machinegun belts out bullets in the second and third quarters. Eleven tallies in the middle stanzas had them up 14-8 going into the last quarter. The Machine were on the ropes. But what did the Cannons do? They let up seven goals in the fourth quarter. As hard as it was to watch the goals go in, it was harder to watch Kip Turner spin on his heels and rake the ball out of the net.

A good deal of blame for the next two losses has been placed on Kip Turner. I know this because I was inundated with tweets from fans watching the Long Island and Baltimore games. I’d tell you what one person said but it was mean and in my opinion unfounded. Do you want to know the deal with Kip Turner, Cannons fans? The deal with Kip turner is that he’s a decent MLL goalie as long as his defense doesn’t screen him and/or gets a check on their shooters. I know what you’re thinking. I’m passing the buck to the defense. One more caveat to the Kip Turner axiom – he’s a decent MLL goalie as long as he stays in the cage.

Every time Kip has come out of the cage it has resulted in an easy goal for the opposition. That’s not a generalization – that’s a fact. Cannons front office people – you have the tape; you know it’s true. And yet, Kippie keeps wandering out of his crease like a lost puppy looking for a home. That’s my assessment Kipster. Just stay home and you’ll be fine. And everyone else, leave Kip alone. He’s the only reason Denver didn’t score 40 goals in last year’s semi-final. You forget, but I do not.

There. I feel better. We’ve addressed the fourth quarter meltdown concern. We’ve established Kip’s innocence. Now – the losses.

The last two games were bad. They were more than bad. They were upsetting. I’m still trying to figure out how the Cannons ended up nearly ten goals down to Long island; who sports the worst offense in the history of the league. They make the San Francisco Dragons of 2007 look fearsome. And yet they decimated the Cannons defense.

How?

Look, I’m not here to name names. I’m here to help. So without naming names, I’ll just say this – the Cannons defense needs to play to its strengths if Boston is to win ANY more games this year. Yes, that’s a bit hyperbolic, but you’re reading a Kyle Devitte Column, what did you expect? So what are the Cannons strengths? I’m glad you asked.

The Cannons defense is big. I don’t mean height wise. I mean weight wise. The “smallest” defender on the Cannons is Kyle Sweeney at 185lbs. Everyone else is 190+ with Jack Reid topping the group at 220lbs. It’s not the biggest defense in the league (Long Island is…by far) but with great heft comes great responsibility. To be blunt, the Cannons longpoles have not fulfilled their charge. If you watch the Long Island game carefully, you will see Cannons defenders standing around after every goal just looking around. I mean; that happens after every goal in the MLL when everyone tries to figure out whose fault it is. But when the Cannons do it they’re 10-20 feet away from the goal. Big defenders HAVE to stay closer to the goal to be effective. That’s obvious.

What’s not so obvious is the lack of sliding that seems to be plaguing the Cannons defense. Fast breaks and unsettled situations have been the Cannons Achilles heel(s). In the Long Island game, Greg Gurenlian won two face-offs to himself and the point man didn’t slide either time. Guess what happened? Two breaks, two goals. It’s not like they didn’t have time, Gurenlian is about as fast as a Tonka truck being pushed uphill by a fat kid.

As for unsettled situations, one need look no further than the Bayhawks game where the Chesapeake midfielders ran the Cannons ragged after Paul Rabil was ejected for throwing a right hand into Dave Evan’s gullet. It would be easy to blame the loss on that ejection – as many Cannons fans have – but Rabil’s absence had nothing to do with Kyle Dixon and Pete Poillon having all day to set up their shots on the perimeter and drive to net or bomb away.

In 2009, the Cannons ran an almost cramped interior defense that forced teams to shoot from the outside. This year they’re spreading wide and throwing checks on the outside of their range to force turnovers. The Cannons have had a ton of turnover on the offensive side of the ball, but almost zero on the other end. Why would you change the defense when you didn’t change the personnel? I just don’t get it. Proof? Proof.

The Cannons goals against average is 12.57. It’s the second worst GAA in the league, just under Chicago at 12.5 and just before Toronto at 17.5. Wait, when do we play Toronto? That sounds like fun.

More? Long Island: 2. Denver 2.75 Chicago: 3.25 Chesapeake: 3.5 Boston: 3.75 Toronto: 4.25. What are those? Those are the amount of goals – on average – that each team in the league concedes in the fourth quarter. Boston is second to last on that list. Again. More bad news? The highest number of goals conceded in the fourth quarter this year was 7 – by the Boston Cannons against the Chicago/homeless Machine.

The good news? That record of seven goals was matched BY the Cannons in their ill-fated comeback against the Long Island Lizards.

Tomorrow, the Cannons play the Denver Outlaws at Harvard stadium. Again. As long as Kip stays in net and the defense stays tight, the Cannons should be fine…did you still want that grade? Fine. Incomplete. Too many absences. Needs improvement.

Don’t worry, the Cannons aren’t quite at the must win point just yet. But I’m sure they will cross that bridge soon enough. Or, you know, burn it. Whichever.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Kyle Devitte's Firing Squad

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: