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Steve Priolo Buffalo Bandits fight Brodie Merrill 2015 NLL Photo Credit Bill Wippert.png
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2015 NLL Champion’s Cup Preview

It’s hard to believe that the 81-game National Lacrosse League regular season is really over, but now it’s time for the most hard-nosed, gritty action we get to see all year long…PLAYOFFS!

Say farewell to Minnesota, New England and Vancouver because they will be joining us on the couch for the rest of the race.

2015 NLL Playoff Bracket

Could a team really win four consecutive championships? Will a #1 seed actually become a champion? With the exception of Edmonton, it’s hard to say that the West even stacked up to the East this year.

2015 NLL Playoffs Seeding

  1. Toronto Rock (14-4)
  2. Edmonton Rush (13-5)
  3. Rochester Knighthawks (12-6)
  4. Buffalo Bandits (11-7)
  5. Colorado Mammoth (9-9)
  6. Calgary Roughnecks (7-11)

Fun fact: Every team averaging over 10k fans per game made it to the playoffs.

Who’s Hot

10 players on the Top 10 (really 11) points chart are heading into the post-season. #4 on the list, Rhys Duch (41, 61) had a career-high season with Vancouver, becoming their #1 guy in just about every category but his stats will end there. All alone in first place, Shawn Evans finished with a mind-blowing 130 points for the Roughnecks, which is hard to believe because Curtis Dickson was also in the Top 10 with 94 points of his own.

Ryan Benesch (55, 58), Dhane Smith (39, 68) and Mark Steenhuis (36, 59) all earned their places on the list, Benesch’s 55 goals we enough to earn him the spot at the 2015 regular-season scoring champion!

Geoff Snider won 69% of his face-offs for Calgary with Bandit Jay Thorimbert close behind with 66% in almost 80 more attempts.

Is it a shock that the Top 6 goaltenders are all in the post-season? Edmonton’s Aaron Bold had a fantastic season finishing with .779 save % and a league low 9.44 GAA. Both Toronto keepers, Nick Rose and Brandon Miller are posting around 80% on saves.

Calgary is converting on over 55% of all powerplay opportunities while Buffalo is in last with a mere 28% success rate. The Roughnecks are also taking care of business when man-down, killing off over 64% off opportunities and scoring 14 shorthand goals.

Eastern Conference

Our three teams representing the East have not only been handling their business on the floor this season but they have been putting butts in seats too. Banditland, the ACC and Blue Cross Arena have been madhouses in 2015 and league can hang their hats on that.

The Buffalo Bandits have won 5 of their last 6 games, and finished the year with a 10 goal win over the Black Wolves in front of a crowd that let’s just say, brought the mother-loving ruckus!

Buffalo Bandits 2015 NLL Photo Credit Bill Wippert.png

When Rochester and Buffalo square off, the ground is going to shake in Upstate New York. Friday night at 7pm ET decides who heads to Toronto for the best of 2* series naming the Eastern Conference champion! Rochester has knocked off the Bandits all 3 times in 2015 and holds a 2-1 advantage over the Rock. You can be sure that Buffalo has the KHawks’ number as action kicks off on Friday night!

The Knighthawks finished 5 0f their last 7 games with wins but it is hard to compare anyone with the Toronto Rock who gave up only 4 games the entire season. Only the Edmonton Rush tallied more and let in less goals than the Rock in 2015, Toronto finished with 230 goals and 185 goals allowed.

Western Conference

Calgary Roughnecks vs Edmonton Rush 2015 NLL.png

Only in the West can you start this season an abysmal 0-6, finish 7-11 and still make the playoffs. I don’t want to take anything away from the “win and in” deal between Calgary and Vancouver on Saturday night, but looking at their records and performances against quality opponents, both teams didn’t belong in that situation.

The first winner-take-all battle pins the Colorado Mammoth against the Calgary Roughnecks, Saturday night 9pm ET in the Pepsi Center. You know the Roughnecks are going to be soaring high into this weekend after their huge road win in Vancouver to put them in the playoffs.

The winner heads of to Edmonton for a best of 2* series deciding who will represent the West in NLL Finals! Colorado has lost their last two regular season games (4 total) to the Rush, so if they can get by the Riggers, which they are 2-1 against so far, they might just have probability on their side when facing the Rush in the Finals. Calgary on the other hands, already has proven they have the keys to beat Colorado, tying the regular season series with them, 2-2.

*The East and West Division Finals feature a best-of-two series format. If tied 1-1, the series winner will be determined through a 10-minute tiebreaker game to be played immediately following Game 2. The winners of the Division Finals will represent the East and West in the Champion’s Cup Finals.

Champion’s Cup Finals

The best of 3 series kickoffs off on the weekend of May 29th and a champion will be decided by June 14th at the latest. The last three Champion’s Cups were all won by the Rochester Knighthawks, the first team to ever 3-peat in the NLL. Rochester is 3-0 against Buffalo, 2-1 vs the Rock and 4-2 against the West in 2015.

Game 1: Weekend of May 29-31
Game 2: Weekend of June 5-7
Game 3: Weekend of June 12-14 (if necessary)

Top 5 Videos

While you wait on the race for the NLL Champion’s Cup, here’s 5 awesome video from Week 18 and final weekend of the regular season!

Take a look at the NLL Playoff Picture for more information and comment below and tell us who you think is making the run for the Cup this season! Can the Knighthawks make it 4 or will be see a new champion crowned?