With the end of the MLL regular season quickly approaching, the MLL playoff picture is as muddy as ever. Is this all going to blow up like last year, where seven teams were all tied at 8-6 setting up one of the craziest tiebreakers ever? No. But we can get 6 teams tied at 8-6! I am not going to go through all 32,768 possible outcomes right now. That would be crazy. What I will do is let you know what to look for as games go on this weekend, and depending on who you cheer for (or against), what you may want to have happen.
But first, we need to talk about “the trade”.
Previously, “The Trade” meant the Rabil/Seibald trade between Boston and New York. Now, it means something else entirely, but the teams are the same. A few weeks ago at the trade deadline, Boston shipped Will Manny and Joe LoCascio down to New York for Dave Lawson and Chris Lapierre.
Did this favor New York?
Sure. But, it would be the first time a trade happened where one side looked to be the winner. If you’ve been paying attention, you would know the Manny fit smoothly into New York offense, and LoCascio even scored the game winner in his opening night.
Then, the All-Star break happened and Boston was stuck without any games for a few weeks while this trade went a little stale. Then, as Boston was locking up their roster for this past weekend’s game against Rochester, a little news release came out from the Cannons. Lawson was retiring and LaPierre will not report to the team. Manny and LoCascio were lost for nothing.
Lax Twitter blew up when this came out. Everyone was looking for a neck to grab and pretty much everyone was looking at Boston’s Front Office for where to assign blame. But, then things grew. Many lacrosse fans (and players) are already upset with the league and their silence/inaction this season. This then became a league problem and became ammunition for the anti-MLL crowd.
Where have I not seen much blame placed? On the players.
I am not going to blame the players, though, as I do not have their side of the story. They may have perfectly legitimate reasons for making the decisions that they did. Questions also came up about what New York knew and when. Again, I do not have official or unofficial statements from New York on the matter. The bottom line for me is that I do not find it to be a useful exercise for most fans to figure out who to blame.
Cannons fans can certainly complain. The Cannons front office will absolutely want to know why this went down the way that it did, and what they can do to prevent it from happening again. But am I going to have the decision of two players change how I view the league? Not a chance. That is one thing we as individuals do have control over.
Things like this happen in sports. It sucks. It’s not the outcome any of us want to see. Does it make the MLL a beer league? No. Go look up disastrous trades in other major leagues. A great example I found also involved a Boston team. Before the Patriots went all 18-1 about a decade ago, the had to trade for Randy Moss. They picked him up for a fourth round draft pick from Oakland. The player Oakland got never played a second for them and was eventually released with no trade or anything. Patriots get one of their best seasons ever, the Raiders got nothing. This stuff happens.
Now, what did I do with all the time I saved by not worrying about what Dave Lawson was up to?
MLL PLAYOFF Breakdown!
So now, let’s get into it, AGAIN, and see how things have progressed and changed! Let’s start off with the numbers, the stats, the standings (seeds incorporate all tiebreaker scenarios), and see where that gets us.
|Seed||Team||Wins||Losses||Win %||Wins over||Losses to||Left||Streak|
|1||Denver||8||2||.800||CHAx2, NYx2, FL, BOS,ATL, OH||ROC, BOS||OH, ROC, CHEx2||+3|
|2||Ohio||7||4||.636||ATL, CHA, FL, CHEx2, BOSx2||ROC, CHA,NY, DEN||DEN, NY, ROC||-2|
|3||Florida||6||5||.545||ROCx2, NYx2, ATL,CHE||BOS, DEN, OH, CHA, ATL||CHE, CHA, BOS||+1|
|4||New York||5||6||.455||CHE, ATL, ROC ,OH,CHA||DENx2, BOS, FLx2,ATL||CHA, OH, BOS||+1|
|5||Charlotte||5||6||.455||ROC, OH, ATL, CHE, FL||DENx2, OH, CHE, ATL, NY||NY, FL, BOS||-1|
|6||Atlanta||5||6||.455||BOS, CHA, ROC, FL,NY||OH, NY, CHE, CHA, FL, DEN||CHE, ROC, BOS||+1|
|7||Rochester||5||6||.455||OH, BOSx2, DEN, CHE||FLx2, CHA, NY, ATL, CHE||DEN, ATL, OH||+1|
|8||Chesapeake||4||6||.400||BOS, CHA, ATL, ROC||NY, OHx2, ROC, CHA,FL||FL, DENx2, ATL||-1|
|9||Boston||3||7||.300||FL, NY, DEN||ATL, CHE, ROCx2, DEN, OHx2,||NY, CHA, FL, ATL||-2|
Now, most people would have thought that by sitting at 8-2, Denver would be the clear favorite and have a playoff spot locked up. In reality, most of that SHOULD be true, but they have not clinched a playoff spot, let alone home field. In nearly every case, Denver is in a tiebreaker at minimum for a playoff spot, but not every. For example: If Denver loses every other game this season, Ohio and Rochester each will grab a win, and Chesapeake gets two. If Ohio then beats New York and loses to Rochester, they’ll have the top seed. Rochester would still have to beat Atlanta while Florida only beat Charlotte and Boston. If all that goes down, the Outlaws will not be in the MLL playoff party.
But, what do they have to do to be in? Just win. A game. Any game. They actually have two shots this weekend against the Rattlers and Machine. Neither of those is going to be an easy one. If they lose both, but New York, Charlotte, and Atlanta all win, Denver is probably in still. That will become more clear as the weekend progresses.
If Denver has not clinched, Ohio definitely has not. But, they are still close. If they beat Denver, I will have to assume they are in, but I will go through the motions to crunch the numbers. The reason I say that is Ohio owns more outright head to head tiebreakers than any other team. That’s invaluable when it goes into multi-team tiebreakers. Currently, they are only on the wrong side of Denver, New York, and Rochester. All are teams they play again this season and could win those to lock up the top seed. Even if they lose them, Denver probably takes the top seed, and Rochester or New York are going to be embroiled in multi-team tiebreakers to figure it all out. Ohio still probably comes out on top in most situations.
The Launch being in this spot after being in the toilet a year ago is nothing short of remarkable. Their tiebreakers are currently terrible, but they still have a path to the top seed with a little bit of help. Two wins this weekend of Chesapeake and Charlotte will do wonders for their MLL playoff position and should come close to locking up a postseason bid.
4. New York
The Lizards are currently at the top of the five win heap thanks to wins over all other five win teams. The trouble is that one win will not do it. Two wins is very precarious and means you need help from the outside. Even three wins is no promise. They’re in the best shape right now, but losses to Rochester or Charlotte could spell disaster if they fall behind on points totals.
The Hounds were looking pretty before their loss to New York. Like the Lizards, they face each other, which may decide who gets in. A win there and over Florida would be great, but a win over Boston should cement things. Their schedule is just a little more favorable versus the Lizards because of having Florida instead of Ohio. Ohio and Denver are in a separate group right now, so having a tiebreaker over either of them isn’t the most useful. Having Florida, though? New York does not have that, which may matter.
The Blaze are also in a massively better spot than a year ago. One of the two teams to miss the playoffs, they now are within striking distance with Chesapeake, Rochester, and Boston on the slate. As you’ll notice, those are the three teams currently below them. None are easy wins, but it’s much better than a double header with Denver and Ohio being left. With only a winning tiebreaker over Florida right now, the Blaze are in an overall margin tie breaker with the Lizards thanks to their two goal win and loss games. Basically, if Atlanta wins, they should try to win big. The Lizards will be doing the same.
Rochester rounds out the five with teams and may have the toughest schedule. Denver and Ohio are both teams they have beaten, though. They are actually the only team to have done that. The Rattlers have played teams close all year long and just steamrolled the Cannons on Sunday. They’re really working in their NLL and NCAA guys now, which makes them their most dangerous. They have been incredibly vulnerable to zone defenses, but they may have finally figured that out against Boston. We will see.
I still have a hard time understanding how the Bayhawks are down here. They have tiebreakers over Boston and Rochester, but that’s it. With two Denver games, Florida, and Atlanta, things are not too promising right now. They are at best and eight win team if they win out, but that is hardly a unique circumstance right now. With the talent they have, putting a run like that together is within reason. Two of those games will be taken care of this weekend before the end their season with back to back Denver. Buckle up, Bayhawks fans.
Boston is in dire straits, but they are not eliminated. I repeat. They are not eliminated. Their best case scenario at this point is seven wins. Their hopes mostly rest on Denver and Ohio locking up the top two seeds, and Denver grabbing a few more wins. Now, which wins all those teams get does matter. But the important thing for Boston right now is to know they have to keep winning to have a shot. One loss and they’re done. Six wins gets them into the type of spot where they’re fighting with Chesapeake, Charlotte, and Rochester for the fourth seed. As of right now, Boston has wins over none of them and at best will have a single win over Charlotte.
As fun as it is for me to pour over all these numbers, the best approach for every team is to come back to the common theme for today: spend your time on what you can control. All you can reasonably do is win your remaining games. In most cases, win them by as many points as you can, which means we are up for some great end to end games.
So get out to these games, watch the on TV, on twitter, wherever. This is going to be an awesome end to the season!
Game 1: Thursday, 7/20. Boston @ New York. 7:00 PM EDT
Game 2: Thursday, 7/20. Florida @ Chesapeake. 7:30 PM EDT
Game 3: Thursday, 7/20. Denver @ Rochester, 7:30 PM EDT
Game 4: Saturday, 7/22. Chesapeake @ Atlanta, 7:00 PM EDT
Game 5: Saturday, 7/22. Charlotte @ Florida, 7:00 PM EDT
Game 6: Sunday, 7/23. Ohio @ Denver, 10:00 PM EDT