’Necks one win away from playoffs
Club hopes to play beyond Saturday
One glance at the mercury will explain the importance of the game.
That’s Mike Carnegie’s theory, anyway.
“The hotter the temperature, the bigger the game,” the Calgary Roughnecks captain explained Monday morning on his way to another rehab session on his lower-body injury, one that has kept the 32-year-old defender out of the lineup for more than three weeks.
“It’s kind of like how it was when you were a young kid. You’ve got your shorts on, you’ve got your T-shirt on, and you show up to the rink with the boys.”
Coming off their bye week, Carnegie and his boys will show up to the Saddledome for Saturday’s regular-season finale against the Toronto Rock (7 p.m., Fox Sports Go) in their shorts, and the mercury will likely have settled into big-game territory.
With the Roughnecks’ magic number to clinch the final playoff spot in the West Division still sitting at one, Calgary (7-10) is oh-so close to eliminating the Vancouver Stealth (5-11) and booking its ticket to Denver for a first-round matchup with the Colorado Mammoth on the weekend of May 6-7.
If the Mammoth (11-6) beat the Stealth on Friday in Denver, the Roughnecks clinch and Saturday’s game against the already-eliminated Rock will be moot.
If the Stealth can win that one, though, they’ll play the early game Saturday on the road against the Georgia Swarm, and the Roughnecks will be scoreboard watching prior to taking the floor at the Dome, which could make for an eventful few hours on the penultimate day of the regularseason slate.
The Stealth have done well just to extend it to this point, out lasting the Saskatchewan Rush — the defending NLL champs and top seed in the West Division — by a 14-12 margin last weekend to stay alive, as the Roughnecks looked on from the couch.
“I think we all watched,” Carnegie said.
“It’s always good when you’re not playing to watch your opponent and see what’s going on. Obviously, it didn’t work out in our favour but, I think, at the end of the day, we still control our destiny and winning to get in might be a lot sweeter than watching someone do your dirty work for you.”
It’s always good when you’re not playing to watch your opponent and see what’s going on.
If the Stealth manage to make the Roughnecks-Rock tilt mean something, it’ll be a one-and-done, tuneupstyle, before a one-anddone, playoff-style, takes centre stage during the first weekend in May.
“Playing a playoff game, basically, the week before playoffs, that’ll test our team and see where we’re at, right?” Carnegie said.
“It’s a good opportunity for us as a younger group and a young team to realize the pressure and the excitement around playing in a one-anddone game. That’s the way I look at it.”
Roughnecks forward Dane Dobbie, who’s scored 26 goals in 13 games this season, believes the Stealth will continue to put the pressure on.
“You win and you go on, you lose and you go home — that’s the way we’re looking at it,” Dobbie said. “We’re going to predict that Vancouver goes 2-0 and then we’re in a must-win situation. We need to be on our ‘A’ game and be ready to beat Toronto. Vancouver is playing really good lacrosse and I’m predicting that they’re winning Friday and Saturday night.”
As for Carnegie, he’s hoping to suit up for the first time since April 2 against the Rock, but the captain will be monitored throughout the week. While he’ll without a doubt be ready for the playoffs, Carnegie also knows there’s still regular-season work to be done.
“It’ll probably be a gametime decision,” Carnegie said.
“I’m feeling really good and I’ve progressed a long way and done excellent work up at McMahon Stadium with the Stampeders (training staff). I’m pretty hopeful that I can play. I think it’s good to play a game before we head into the playoffs, too, just to get your legs back. That being said, you’ve gotta win to get into the playoffs, so I might just have to play.”