The NLL playoffs are coming up quick, with the first round starting on May 4-6. The top 3 teams from each division will face off for the championship in a fast pace, bracketed, single round elimination tournament. Though the West has all 3 of it’s available spots clinched, with the Saskatchewan Rush comfortably at the top of their division, and the league, with a whopping 13 wins to a mere 4 losses, the East has all 3 spots up for grabs. Only 2 wins separate the entire Eastern division, with only 2 weeks left in the regular season! It’s going to be an incredibly tight race to the finish, with each team so close to earning their spot. We’ll see who ends up crossing the line, and placing their name in that bracket, but lets take a look at some of the hopefuls, and why they’ve earned their spot on the power rankings as of now:
1’st Saskatchewan Rush:
With forwards like Mark Matthews, Robert Church, and Ben McIntosh racking up the points and goals, it’s easy to see why the Rush have such an impressive offensive presence. A great powerplay, and notable faceoff win percentage has helped this team keep its goals-for so high. With their standout record, the Saskatchewan Rush are the team to beat in this years playoff’s without a doubt.
2nd Colorado Mammoth:
The Colorado Mammoth are the second placed team in both the West and the league. With a great record it’s easy to see why this team has earned it’s spot as one of the most likely challengers to Saskatchewan’s dominance. They’re a disciplined team with the least amount of penalty minutes in the league, which will help them counter the Rush’s great power play presence if they meet. The Mammoth are defensively sound as well with the lowest goals against in the league. They say defense wins championships, and the Colorado Mammoth will put that to the test come these 2018 playoffs
3rd Rochester Nighthawks:
Assuming the Rochester Knighthawks do in fact qualify for the 2018 playoffs, they are definitely a team to look out for. Boasting an impressive goal differential, this teams solid play has left them with 2 victories against the Rush, more than any other team combined. In addition, they’re on a hot streak, winning 6 of their last 7 games, against notable teams as well; 2 vs the Rush, 2 vs the Swarm, 1 vs the Bandits, 1 vs the Rock, and dropping only a close game to the Roughnecks. The Nighthawks are a threat, but their season may be decided by their game against division rival Blackwolves on the 21st of April.
4th Georgia Swarm:
The Georgia Swarm are another playoff hopeful from the East looking strong. With 4 wins in a row vs 3 division rivals and the Rush, this team is looking for its fast break to #1 seed in the East. Their last games are against the Stealth and the Blackwolves, teams they should theoretically beat if the current standings are an indication, and if they do earn those victories, they will be looking to carry that 6 win momentum into the post-season.
Other hopefuls include the Buffalo Bandits, New England Blackwolves, Toronto Rock, and Calgary Roughnecks. Don’t be surprised if the power rankings prove wrong. The East is extremely tight and the Knighthawks and Swarm still may not even make an appearance let alone rise to the top. The Bandit’s, Blackwolves, and Rock, are all undoubtedly going to make their last stands, and anything can happen as we head into these closing weeks of the regular season. You can’t, count out Calgary either. With final games against the Stealth, who can’t seem to catch a break, and the Rush, who have already clinched top spot and may be more focused on their playoff run then closing game, the Roughnecks may just end up boasting an even record as they head into the post season. We’ll see who ends up snagging those last spots, and who rises to the occasion when that first round of the playoffs comes around. If the exciting regular season is any indication, this is going to be yet another amazing playoffs.