By Austin Owens | Aug 13, 2021
We’re into the home stretch of the 2021 regular season, with just six games remaining until we transition into playoff lacrosse.
To open up Week 8 in Albany, PLL fans will be treated to a classic, with the Whipsnakes and Redwoods facing off in the first of two games on Friday night.
The two rivals met back in Week 5. The Woods avenged a pair of losses in 2020 with a 13-7 victory in Minneapolis.
Both teams are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, but their matchups have yet to be decided. There’s still a lot up for grabs heading into Utah, and we could very well see a third matchup between these two squads over the next month.
With the Whips getting back to full health, this should be a fantastic matchup to open up the final weekend of the regular season.
Who Ya Got?
In what has become a rare occurrence, the Whipsnakes come into the game as the underdog on DraftKings Sportsbook. The Woods are -1.5 (+120) favorites heading into Friday’s opener.
However, the fans are running with the Whips in this matchup. They hold 58 percent of the vote on PLL Pick ‘Em.
Return of Rambo
In just about the worst news any other team in the PLL could have hoped for, Matt Rambo is back for the Whips, and if he’s back to near full strength, it’ll be hard to pick against the two-time defending champions heading into the postseason.
In the three games since Rambo departed with an injury, the Whips have only made it to double digits once -- luckily, that was a win against the Archers, otherwise, their current situation could be worse.
The Whips have scored just 13 combined goals in their last two defeats at the hands of the Redwoods and Waterdogs. So Rambo’s return couldn’t come soon enough.
Brad Smith has been fantastic for the Whips in Rambo’s absence, providing from up top as both a feeder and scorer. The same goes for 2020 MVP Zed Williams, who has continued to produce. It’s really had to be a group effort from the Whips, but with their offensive facilitator back in the fold, this offense will be buzzing again, and at the perfect time to boot.
The question will be Rambo’s usage going into the weekend doubleheader. He may only feature sparingly in these games as the Whips are guaranteed a playoff spot.
Gutty’s First Go
Guterding has had a down year, scoring six points in as many games with the Beauties this season. The loss of running mate Jordan Wolf in Week 1 couldn’t have been easy for Guterding, and he wasn’t able to find the same form as the last two years with some new pieces in the fold.
The trade offers him a new opportunity to impress, and the rich just continue to get richer in the case of the Whips. They land another dynamic attackman who is just a few years into his career and has a track record of finishing among the top scorers in the league.
Add that in with a pair of PLL MVPs in Matt Rambo and Zed Williams, and the Whips have arguably the scariest attack unit in the league heading into the postseason.
The thought was that Guterding would be able to fill in a spot at attack for the Whips with Rambo’s status up in the air. But with the return of the star attackman, there’s a growing possibility that we could see the newest Whipsnake run out of the box.
It would give Stagnitta another dynamic look, as Guterding with a combination of Brad Smith, Mike Chanenchuk, and John Haus would be deadly. He can distribute from up top, somewhat simulating what the Redwoods have done with a deadly shooter and two playmakers up top.
Gutty should feature heavily regardless of his role. It depends on how much Rambo is used. But look for him to have a big weekend in his new digs.
What’s At Stake?
Both teams have cemented their respective places in the postseason. The only thing left to decide now is their seeding.