Chrome vs. Archers: Matchup Preview
By Josh Schafer | Jul 30, 2020
Chrome will face-off with the Archers in the Championship Series’s first battle of 2-0 teams. Both teams enter Thursday’s matchup near the top of the league in scoring while the Archers boast the league’s best scoring defense.
Face-off between the two undefeateds is set for 9:30 p.m. ET Thursday, exclusively on NBC Sports Gold.
Battle of the best
The league’s best offense will square off with the league’s top defense on Thursday. The Archers have held both opponents to an average of 8.5 points per game. Meanwhile, Chrome has scored 26 points through two games, and it might’ve added more had it not laid off the gas to kill the clock against the Redwoods.
As PLL analyst Joe Keegan often says, the Archers slide fast. Facing an offense full of quick players like Jordan Wolf, Justin Guterding and Ned Crotty, quick slides will likely help stop Chrome’s first dodge, which has been lethal thus far. Through two games, eight of Chrome's 25 goals have been initiated from X. If the Archers can prevent the initial drive, and bring a quick two-slide, we might see Chrome’s offense stall for the first time.
The Archers have held opponents to 12.5 percent shooting in the second half of games, including a 90.9 percent save percentage for goalie Adam Ghitelman on Tuesday night.
Stopping the Archers offense
The Archers offense has been as good as advertised. Grant Ament has turned into a human-highlight two games into his professional career and the rest of the Archers are scoring along with him.
But in the first half of the game against the Waterdogs, the Archers scored just three goals. That was in part due to the Waterdogs forcing turnovers and scooping ground balls. Chrome currently leads the league in grouballs with 63. If they can force the ball to the ground, they may be able to limit the Archers chances.
Chrome also has a natural built-in defensive mechanism with Connor Farrell. The faceoff specialist has the highest percentage (71%) of any player who’s played in two games. Having Farell could save Chrome from getting blown away by an Archers scoring run.
The Gaudet assist
Following Matt Gaudet’s trash-talking antics in Chrome’s first game, he’s become a built-in storyline for each game this season. In game one, he fired up the Chaos and distracted them from the game. In game two, the Redwoods’ focus on playing Gaudet physically led to a string of penalties and three goals off those penalties.
Redwoods defenseman Garrett Epple was suspended for an excessive cross-check on Gaudet during Chrome’s most recent game. Is that enough to stop players from retaliating to Gaudet's trash talk? We’ll find out on Thursday night.
Though they’ll actually be on opposite sides of the field all night, this game is primed for a goalie matchup. Chrome’s John Galloway is currently third in the league in save percentage (59%), while the Archer’s Ghitelman leads the league (74%).
Ghitelman and Drew Adams have split halves for the Archers through two games as was expected for much of group play. The pair, along with the Archers defense, has combined for the lowest opponent scoring average.
Galloway has provided a spark of his own. His 14 saves against Redwoods allowed Chrome to jump out to a large lead. Though a pair of two-point shots beat Galloway as Redwoods nearly came back, the Team USA goalkeeper has looked much more like his old self than the owner of the league’s worst save percentage in 2019.
The Archers (-141) are favored by 1.5 over Chrome (+115). The over-under is set 22.5. Chrome’s most recent victory was the only Championship Series game to total more than 22 points.
The importance of this game is simple. It’s a battle of the undefeateds. The winner of this game will take sole possession of first place in the standings and will control its own destiny for the top seed. The first seed after group play will receive a first round bye in the elimination round.