Edmonton Rush can lock up the division while Calgary Roughecks can clinch a playoff spot this weekend. (Photo: Brad Watson)
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 have punched their postseason ticket, which leaves five spots left with five weeks remaining.
Here are the possible clinch scenarios for four NLL teams heading into Week 14:
Rochester Knighthawks (9-3) can clinch a playoff spot with:
Win on Saturday vs. Edmonton OR Toronto loss on Sunday vs. Edmonton OR Minnesota loss on Saturday vs. Calgary
Buffalo Bandits (8-4) can clinch a playoff spot with:
Win on Saturday at Vancouver AND a Minnesota loss OR win on Saturday at Vancouver AND a Toronto loss
Edmonton Rush (11-0) can clinch the West Division title with:
Win on Saturday vs. Rochester AND win on Sunday vs. Toronto AND a Calgary loss on Saturday vs. Minnesota
Calgary Roughnecks (7-5) can clinch a playoff spot with:
Win on Saturday vs. Minnesota AND Vancouver loss on Saturday vs. Buffalo.
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.