With the end of the regular season, Brian Shanahan has posted the final NLL Power Rankings on IL Indoor. (Photo: Dale MacMillan)
The 2014 NLL regular season has concluded with the start of playoffs set to begin with two Division Semifinal games on Saturday, May 3. Check out final edition of the NLL Power Rankings for all nine teams below by Brian Shanahan on IL Indoor.
"The regular season is over...let the playoffs begin," Shanahan writes. "There weren’t many surprises on the 18th weekend of the National Lacrosse League season. There were two remaining questions heading into the last weekend. Who was going to win the scoring championship, Shawn Evans or Cody Jamieson? Both came into the weekend 3 points behind the injured Garrett Billings’ 101 points. The second question was who would finish in second place in the East, Buffalo or Toronto? Jamieson was instrumental in answering both questions."
For the last time this season, let’s check out the Power Rankings.
1) Edmonton Rush (16-2)
The Edmonton Rush defeated the Vancouver Stealth 10-5 on Friday. This is the kind of lacrosse Edmonton has played most of the season. It was close in the first quarter; Edmonton pulled away in the second and then held their opponent to 1 goal in the second half. The Rush ended the season with league leading goals against average of 8.72 and the league’s second best offense despite not having a player in the top 10 scoring. Edmonton will meet the winner of the Colorado at Calgary game.
2) Rochester Knighthawks (14-4)
The Rochester Knighthawks entered the fourth quarter of their game against the Buffalo Bandits with a 12-11 lead. On the next Buffalo power play the Knighthawks scored two shorthanded goals and in typical Rochester fashion the Knighthawks went on a run to build a 16-11 lead and apparently put the game out of reach. In atypical Rochester fashion the Knighthawks allowed Buffalo to score the last three goals of the game within the last 5 minutes. Despite the close finish Rochester looks poised to go to the NLL championship for the third year in a row.
3) Calgary Roughnecks (12-6)
The only thing that the Calgary Roughnecks might be unhappy about their 14-8 victory over the Vancouver Stealth is that they were not able to get Shawn Evans enough points to win his second straight scoring title. Evans still picked up 7 points to end the season with 105 points. Teammate Dane Dobbie scored a hat trick to give him a league leading 51 goals on the year. That also breaks the Roughnecks scoring record of 50 that was held by Lewis Ratcliff. Next week the Roughnecks will host the Colorado Mammoth in the West Division Semifinal.
4) Toronto Rock (9-9)
Brandon Miller was sharp as he backstopped the Toronto Rock to an 8-6 win over Minnesota to win their fourth a row and what seemed impossible a month ago has happened as the Rock has leapfrogged the struggling Buffalo Bandits to take second place in the East division. The Rock will host the Bandits next Saturday at the ACC in the East division semi-final and the Rock will know that Buffalo’s horrendous losing streak means absolutely nothing in a 1 game knockout playoff.
5) Colorado Mammoth (8-10)
The Colorado Mammoth are going into the playoffs on a roll as they beat the Philadelphia Wings 13-12 in Philly for their third straight victory. The team is now 4-3 under coaches Dan Stroup, Pat Coyle and Chris Gill. The Mammoth will meet Calgary in the West division semi-final next Saturday in Calgary. Colorado is 2-1 against the Roughnecks this year including a win and a loss at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.
6) Buffalo Bandits (8-10)
After seven straight losses I think it would have been a bigger surprise to most of us if the Buffalo Bandits had finished the season with a win on Saturday against the Rochester Knighthawks. Buffalo played a pretty good game in front of 19000 fans but a couple of brain cramps led to an empty net goal for a Rochester (and Sid Smith’s first NLL goal) at the end of the half and a couple of shorthanded goals at a critical point in the game. The only good news for the Bandits is that the regular season is over and the losing streak will quickly be forgotten if they can win their playoff game in Toronto.
7) Philadelphia Wings (6-12)
Despite the fact that the Philadelphia Wings lost their 12th game of the season (14-13 to the Colorado Mammoth) there were many positives for the Wings this year. This team was killed by a mid season 6 game losing streak but was competitive on most nights of the season. They have to be very pleased with the play of youngsters Pat Saunders and Garrett Thul and I’d think twice before welcoming back all the Team USA players who took the year off.
8) Minnesota Swarm (4-14)
The Minnesota Swarm lost to the Toronto Rock 8-6 on Saturday. A year after almost defeating the Rochester Knighthawks to go to the NLL championship the Minnesota Swarm simply were weak at both ends of the floor this season. Minnesota was the lowest scoring team in the NLL this year and also had the third worst goals against. On the bright side the Swarm are still a very young team and rookie Logon Schuss finished the season with 36 goals.
9) Vancouver Stealth (4-14)
The Vancouver Stealth finished the 2014 season with two losses but it wasn’t much of a surprise as they were facing the number 1 and 3 ranked teams. On Friday the Stealth lost 10-5 in Edmonton and on Saturday they lost by 14-8 score to the Calgary Roughnecks in Langley. This is team that just wasn’t competitive on most nights this year and will have to consider many off season changes to improve things in 2015.