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First Round of the 2023 NLL Playoffs Predictions

After 22 action-packed weeks, the 2023 NLL Playoffs have arrived, and eight teams have their eyes on hoisting the NLL Cup in June. Does Colorado silence the doubters and defend their championship? Is the third time the charm for Buffalo? Or does a new team hoist the Cup?

Here are my predictions for the first round of the 2023 NLL Playoffs!

Halifax at Toronto

The Thunderbirds had a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of season, looking unbeatable some weeks and like a team battling for the number one pick in other weeks. The Rock have been one of the league’s best all season, and many believe they can challenge the Bandits for a chance to represent the East Conference in the NLL Cup.

The great thing about the playoffs is anything can happen; the regular season doesn’t matter anymore. I’m throwing everything out the window and expecting Halifax to upset the Rock and move on to the East Conference Finals.

Prediction: Halifax over Toronto 13-12

Colorado at San Diego

Everyone was curious to see how the offensive talent would mesh in San Diego. The talent blended perfectly, as the Seals have been the class of the West all season. The regular season has never been a question; it’s always been about how this team would play in the postseason. San Diego has a chance for revenge against the Mammoth as they seek their first championship. The Mammoth come into the 2023 NLL Playoffs as a significant underdog for the second season in a row. Struggling offensively and playing poorly on the road are the same issues they faced last year, but they overcame their deficiencies when it mattered most. Can they find that same recipe for a second straight year?

San Diego and Colorado have been a contentious matchup this season. Both teams dislike each other, and the Seals are looking for revenge after Colorado ended their title hopes last season. This game will come down to which team plays with composure and who can stay out of the penalty box. Ultimately, the Seals will avenge last season’s playoff loss and move on to the West Conference Finals.

Prediction: San Diego over Colorado 9-6

Rochester at Buffalo

Rochester was the surprise team of the 2023 regular season. Connor Fields rejuvenated the city of Rochester and helped lead them to their first playoff appearance in the new Knighthawk regime. Buffalo again finished the season with the top seed in the East Conference. Like the Seals, the regular season is just a rehearsal for the playoffs. Will this be the year Buffalo finally gets over the hump and ends their quest year quest for an NLL Cup?

Buffalo has all the experience and all the motivation in this game. While you can never completely count out a team, I don’t see Rochester upsetting the Bandits in this one.

Prediction: Buffalo over Rochester 16-9

Panther City at Calgary

Panther City proved to the rest of the league that they were ready to take the next step this season, making the playoffs in their second year. Will Malcom has made his case to be in the MVP discussion, leading the Panther City offense behind his career year Despite losing another critical piece in Curtis Dickson, Calgary keeps on winning. A considerable part of that is Christian Del Bianco, who allows under ten goals per game and saves over 80% of the shots he’s faced.

In sports, one of the most challenging things to do is beat a team three times in a season, and if the two teams play the way they did in April, it should be a close battle. But Calgary’s playoff experience will be what helps them advance to the West Conference Finals.

Prediction: Calgary over Panther City 15-12