National Lacrosse League: Playoff Picture Finally Firm
It took every single game of the regular season, but the NLL playoff schedule has at long last been set.
The self-destruction of the Buffalo Bandits is now complete. After losing 10-9 to the Rochester Knighthawks—their seventh loss in their last eight games—the Bandits have been eliminated from the postseason, marking the first time in 11 years that they will be watching the playoffs, rather than participating in them.
That means the other eight teams are in.
The Toronto Rock—who enjoyed a bye week to wrap the season and should be healthy and rested—will host the Minnesota Swarm.
The Rock finished with the best overall record in the league and seem to be well positioned to win their seventh Champion's Cup in franchise history. The Swarm have crossed over from the West Division, having finished in fifth in the West, but with a better record than Buffalo.
Toronto and Minnesota split their two matchups this season, both by a single goal, but it only goes to show that anyone can beat anyone in the NLL this year.
The other East Division matchup has the Philadelphia Wings traveling to Rochester to face the Knighthawks.
The Wings lost this past weekend to drop to third in the East, while Rochester has won two of its last three, four of its last six. Philly has also won two of its last three, but dropped five in a row prior to the home stretch.
Rochester beat the Wings twice in three games this year, so the advantage seems to be with the Knighthawks.
In the West, the Calgary Roughnecks are the Division winners for the third straight year. They host the Colorado Mammoth in the first round.
Calgary has a two-games-to-one advantage over Colorado this year and have won four of the last six matchups between the two clubs—the two losses being by just a single goal. Colorado has also been hot of late, winning three of its last four games to squeak into the playoffs.
The Edmonton Rush will visit the Washington Stealth in the final playoff game of the first round. With identical 9-7 records, this should be the most evenly-matched contest in the first round.
The Rush held a 2-1 advantage over the Stealth in regular-season games this year. They have lost two of their last three games, but still had the best second-half record in the NLL at 6-2. The Stealth have won two of their last three, but are only 2-3 in their last five.
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