With one week remaining in the regular season, the race for the NLL Champions Cup is still wide open. The five teams who have made the playoffs are still battling for position; two teams are still fighting for the final remaining berth. The weekend promises to be action-packed, with so much on the line for seven teams.
In a nutshell, five of the six playoff spots have been clinched; Albany, Rochester, Washington (Eastern Division title), Toronto (Northern Division title) and Vancouver have made the field.
Philadelphia and Montreal are the only two teams still alive for the final spot. All of the playoff seedings, including both first-round byes, are all still up for grabs heading into the final weekend.
Albany (13-2) has clinched a playoff spot and can clinch the Central Division and the top seed throughout the playoffs with a victory over Montreal or a Rochester loss to Columbus.
Toronto (10-4) has clinched the Northern Division and is no lower than the third seed of the playoffs. Toronto can clinch the second seed and a first round bye in the playoffs by winning one of its two remaining games vs. Philadelphia or with a Washington loss to Buffalo.
Washington (9-6) has clinched the Eastern Division and will be no lower than the third seed of the playoffs. Washington can earn the second seed in the playoffs and a first round bye by defeating Buffalo and Toronto losing its remaining two games to Philadelphia. Washington and Toronto would then finish with identical 10-6 records and a 1-1 split in the season series. Washington would win the tiebreaker with a better record vs. common opponents played an equal number of times. Washington is 1-1 vs. Philadelphia while Toronto would have been 0-2 vs. Philadelphia.
Rochester (12-3) has clinched a playoff berth and is no lower than the fourth seed. Rochester can win the division and the top seed throughout the playoffs by defeating Columbus and if Albany loses to Montreal. Rochester and Albany would then have identical 13-3 records. Rochester wins the tie-breaker, having swept Albany in head-to-head play this season, 2-0.
Vancouver (9-6) has clinched a wild card berth. Vancouver can finish no worse than 9-7 and in a three way tie with Philadelphia and Montreal for the fifth seed.
Philadelphia (7-7) would win the tiebreaker and the fifth seed with a better record vs. common opponents played an equal number of times (Philadelphia would be 2-0 vs. Toronto while Vancouver and Montreal would each be 1-1). Vancouver would win the tiebreaker over Montreal for the sixth and final playoff spot by virtue of winning the season series with Montreal 2-0.
Montreal (8-7) can earn a playoff berth by defeating Albany and Philadelphia losing one game. Montreal will also earn a playoff berth should Philadelphia lose its remaining two games.
Philadelphia will earn a playoff berth by winning its remaining two games (both are against Toronto). Philadelphia wins a two-way tiebreaker with Montreal if both clubs finish with identical 9-7 records for the sixth seed. The clubs did not meet during the regular season. Philadelphia would win the next tiebreaker, records vs. common opponents played an equal number of times, with a 4-2 record vs. Toronto, Rochester & Buffalo compared with Montreal?s 3-3 record.
Philadelphia can also earn a playoff berth by winning one of its remaining two games and if Montreal loses to Albany and Buffalo defeats Washington. Philadelphia, Montreal and Buffalo would all be tied at 8-8 for the sixth playoff berth. Philadelphia would win a three way tiebreaker with Montreal and Buffalo with a better record vs. common opponents played the same number of times. Philadelphia is 1-1 vs. Rochester, while Montreal and Buffalo are each 0-2 vs. Rochester.
Should Montreal lose, Philadelphia split and Buffalo loses to Washington, Montreal and Philadelphia would be tied for the sixth seed with identical 8-8 records. Montreal and Philadelphia did not play each other during the regular season. Their records vs. common opponents played an equal number of times would also be tied at 3-3. The next tiebreaker is Net goals for and against for the season. Entering the final weekend, Montreal has scored 230 goals and allowed 211 for a net of 19. Philadelphia has scored 201 and allowed 207 for a net of ? 6. Thus, Montreal has a 25 goal edge entering the final weekend.
Buffalo (7-8) is eliminated from playoff contention. The Bandits can finish no better than 8-8 and lose a three way tiebreaker with Philadelphia and Montreal as described above. Buffalo also loses the head-to-head tiebreaker with Montreal in a two way tie with the Express. Buffalo lost the season series with Montreal 2-0.