The league has implemented new expanded playoff format effective for the 2014 NLL season and beyond. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
The National Lacrosse League features a new and expanded playoff format for the 2014 NLL season and beyond. With the second half of the regular season underway, the postseason race is heating up as teams fight for position in the standings with hopes of earning a playoff berth, and even a first-round bye.
Before the start of the season, the league has reduced the number of teams who qualify for the playoffs from eight to six teams, featuring the top three clubs in each division's standings. The crossover rule will no longer apply. The two regular season division champions will earn a first-round bye as top seeds. The second seed will host the third seed in their respective division for the single-game elimination Division Semifinal in the first round.
New to the postseason format, the Division Finals and Championship both expand to a two-game series from the previous single-game elimination setup. The top seed from each division will play the winner of the Division Semifinal game between the second and third seeds, with the lower-seeded team hosting the first game and the higher seed hosting the second game of the series.
Teams who win both games shall win the two-game series. In the event of a series split with both teams winning one game, a 10-minute tiebreaker game will be played immediately following the conclusion of the second contest to determine the winner of the playoff series.
Coinciding with the new postseason format, the league's divisions realigned this season as the Minnesota Swarm join the Buffalo Bandits, Philadelphia Wings, Rochester Knighthawks and Toronto Rock in the new five-team East Division. The four-team West Division will be comprised of the Calgary Roughnecks, Colorado Mammoth, Edmonton Rush and Vancouver Stealth.
The new playoff format was made official when the league reached an accord with the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association for a new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement through the 2020 NLL season.