The division finals are set: the Bandits will host the Rock beginning next Sunday, and the Seals host the Mammoth with game 1 on Friday night. We had four excellent games to start the 2022 NLL playoffs, and the matchups for the second round should be just as good. The Rock took two of three from the Bandits during the regular season, while the Seals took two of three from the Mammoth.
A number of player single-season records were broken this season, and a few players and teams came close. Here is a list of the new player records (in bold), and teams and players that are now in the top ten in some category. Categories I looked at were:
- For non-goalies, goals, assists, points, loose balls, face-offs (wins, attempts, percentage), CTOs, goals/game, assists/game, and points/game.
- For goalies, GAA, saves, minutes, wins, and save %. Yes, someone entered the top 10 in losses in a season but let’s focus on the positive.
- Teams: wins, total goals, goals allowed, and goal differential.
The playoff picture becomes a little clearer each week, but we’re not done yet. Halifax clinched their spot and Saskatchewan, Panther City, and New York were eliminated, so we now have the strange situation of Georgia, Philadelphia, and Albany fighting for the last spot in both the East and West divisions. We have Georgia and Philly playing each other next weekend while New York plays Albany. Here are the possibilities:
- Albany loses, Georgia wins: Georgia is 10-8 and takes the east spot, Albany and Philly are both 8-10 so Albany takes the west spot because they are 2-0 against the Wings.
- Albany loses, Philly wins: Philly and Georgia are both 9-9, Philly takes the east spot because they’re 3-0 against Georgia, Georgia takes the west spot. Albany is 8-10.
- Albany wins, Georgia wins: Georgia is 10-8 and takes the east spot, Albany is 9-9 and takes the west. Philly is 8-10.
- Albany wins, Philly wins: All three are 9-9. The first tiebreaker is their head-to-head winning percentage, but I’m not sure that helps. Albany is 3-2 against the other two, Georgia is 2-4, and Philly is also 3-2. Does that mean Albany and Philly make it through to the next tiebreaker and Georgia is out? Or does it mean we don’t consider this tiebreaker because it didn’t provide a clear winner? I honestly don’t know. The next tiebreaker is their division standings. In this scenario, Georgia would be 8-8 within their division, Philly 7-9 and Albany 6-9.
- If Georgia is eliminated because of the first tiebreaker, Philly takes the East, Albany takes the west, and Georgia is out.
- If the first tiebreaker gets thrown out, Georgia takes the East spot, Philly takes the west, and Albany is out.
However, if case 4b applies, then Georgia has already clinched a playoff spot since they make the playoffs in every case here. Neither the league nor the Swarm have announced that, so case 4a is likely the real one.
So for each team, the outcomes are:
- Georgia: Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re in if Albany loses.
- Philly: Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re out.
- Albany: Win and you’re in. Lose and you’re in if Georgia wins.
The playoff picture in the West is almost complete, as Calgary has clinched their spot while Vancouver is out. Only one spot remains in the West, but the battle in the East will take that down to the wire. Right now, the Thunderbirds and Swarm would join the Bandits and Rock in the playoffs, and the FireWolves would take the fourth spot in the West. But Halifax, Georgia, Albany, and Philly are still close enough that any of them may or may not make it, and if Panther City wins their last two games, they could take that fourth position in the West as well.
Every year around this time, I put together a list of the most unlikely final standings possibilities that could still happen.
This year, the eight spots in the playoffs will be made up of
- The top four teams in the East
- The top three teams in the West
- Either the 5th place East team or the 4th place West team, whichever has the better record
If teams are tied, the the first tiebreaker is their head-to-head record, then their division record, then record against common opponents. Multi-way tiebreakers are similar but more complicated.
The playoff picture is still pretty murky though getting a little clearer. The Rock have joined the Bandits in the “clinched the playoffs” club, and the Knighthawks became the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs. A few awesomes this week and only one not awesome, but that one really sucks.
There were a bunch of great games this past weekend. The Bandits solidified their stranglehold on first place in the East and the middle of the pack in both divisions got even more muddy. The Bandits may have clinched their playoff spot, but the rest of the spots are still up for grabs.
Can you believe we’re done week 16? And as great as this season has been so far, it only gets better. Obviously the playoffs are approaching, but next week features some epic matchups. Halifax plays Buffalo twice. Georgia, who are on a 3-game winning streak, are in Toronto, Colorado is in Panther City, Albany visits New York, and Philly is in Rochester. Calgary vs. Saskatchewan is always a great matchup regardless of either team’s record. If you look solely at the records, San Diego in Vancouver might be the easiest of the bunch to predict but would anybody be surprised if Vancouver pulled off an upset win at home?
A whole bunch of awesome in the NLL this past weekend, and not much that wasn’t.