Fans in Rochester and Toronto are disappointed they won’t have a rooting interest in the 2016 National League playoffs, and Vancouver Stealth fans are still waiting for their first playoff team.
But that doesn’t mean this year’s edition of the playoffs are without intrigue.
For one, Bandits Land is not only celebrating a franchise-record 13 wins in a season, but they’re relieved their team held it together down the stretch. Who can forget the 8-game slide at the end of the 2014 season? Or the 1-7 record down the stretch of 2013?
But this year, the Bandits won 9 of their last 10 to win their first East Division title since 2011.
The interesting thing about Buffalo’s track record as it translates from regular-season success to the postseason is this: Of the 4 NLL championships Buffalo has won, only 1 title has come when the Bandits are outright East champs. They’ve won twice after finishing in a tie for the East Division title.
New England is hosting Georgia in what is technically the first playoff appearance for both. But really, this is the 19th playoff appearance for New England, 18 coming during its time as the Philadelphia Wings.
For Georgia, making the playoffs is a worthy accomplishment for a team in the first season of its new home since moving from Minnesota. The Swarm missed the playoffs their last 2 seasons in Minnesota but qualified this season despite their 8-10 record. It’s the fourth straight season below .500 for the Swarm.
The Calgary Roughnecks extended their streak to 14 straight of making the playoffs.
And yes, the Roughnecks are playing the Colorado Mammoth in the first round for the fourth straight season and the seventh time in the last 9 seasons. Calgary is 6-0 in those games against the Mammoth.
Colorado’s last playoff win against Calgary came in the 2006 season, an 18-17 win over the Riggers that launched the Mammoth to their only Champion’s Cup.
Of the players on the rosters for the 2006 playoff game between Calgary and Colorado, 5 are currently coaches in the NLL (Chris Gill, Dan Stroup, Pat Coyle, Tracey Kelusky. Kaleb Toth) and 1 remains an active player (Jeff Moleski) in the league.
This season is the first since 2009 that will have a Champion’s Cup not involving Rochester or Toronto.
The 2016 playoffs get started this weekend with the Division semifinals.
On Friday, Georgia (8-10) is at New England (10-7) for a 7 p.m. game. The winner advances to the East finals against Buffalo with Game 1 set for next weekend at the Georgia-New England winner.
In the West, Calgary (7-10) is at Colorado (12-6) on Saturday at 9 p.m. The winner there advances to play Saskatchewan in Game 1 set for the following weekend at the Calgary-Colorado winner.