The Buffalo Bandits (8-3) and Rochester Knighthawks (9-3) can both clinch playoff spots this weekend. (Photo: Larry Palumbo)
The National Lacrosse League features a new and expanded playoff format for the 2014 NLL season. 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.
The undefeated Edmonton Rush (11-0) have already clinched a postseason berth in the West Division and have secured their first home playoff game in franchise history with their 11th-straight win on Friday night.
Meanwhile, two more teams in the East, the Buffalo Bandits (8-3) and Rochester Knighthawks (9-3), can clinch this weekend if the Bandits beat the Minnesota Swarm (2-9) on Sunday.
Scenarios are outlined below:
Buffalo can clinch a playoff berth with a win at Minnesota on Sunday. Nine wins would be unattainable by Minnesota. Buffalo wins season series vs. Philly and Toronto 2-1 each, thus winning any solo head-to-head tiebreakers. There is no possibility of a four-way tie including Rochester, since Buffalo would have to lose twice more to Rochester to go 9-9. Buffalo wins three-way tiebreaker with Philly and Toronto per below:
Rochester can clinch a playoff berth with Minnesota loss. This would give Minnesota 10 losses and out of reach of tying Rochester. Rochester wins season series 3-0 over both Toronto and Philly, thus winning any heads up or three-way ties.
Before the start of the season, the league 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 no longer applies. 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.