Fan Polls: How Will MLL Playoff Race Shake Out?
Heading into the final weekend of the Major League Lacrosse regular season, there's still a lot to be decided with respect to the league's championship weekend Aug. 25-26 at Harvard.
The Boston Cannons, Long Island Lizards and Rochester Rattlers are still alive for one of the final two available postseason berths. And the seeding order for the four postseason teams has yet to be determined as well, starting with the top seed that will go to either the Chesapeake Bayhawks or Denver Outlaws. They meet Saturday in Annapolis, Md., to decide the top billing.
We ask you how the playoff race will shake out. Who gets in, who's left out and who get the top seed?
See below for capsule playoff scenarios, courtesy of MLL. In-depth scenarios can be found here.
Boston Cannons (8-5)
at Ohio Machine, 7 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS Sports Network
The Boston Cannons can clinch a playoff spot this week against the Machine with a win. Even if the team falls short to Ohio, they still have a shot at making a playoff run. If the Long Island Lizards win, the Rochester Rattlers will not be able to pass the Cannons based on holding the scoring margin tiebreaker. If Rochester loses, the Cannons will clinch with a one game lead over the Rattlers.
Long Island Lizards (8-5)
at Hamilton Nationals, 7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN3.com
The Lizards can clinch a playoff spot with a win, which would move the team to 9-5. Even if the team loses to the Nationals, a Rochester OR Boston loss will send Long Island to the playoffs. Long Island holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Boston and if all three teams were tied, Long Island would be the No. 4 seed.
After losing to Chesapeake 13-6 one week ago with a chance to make the post-season with a win, the Lizards will look to rebound strong north of the border.
"Without energy and passion we become a very ordinary team," Lizards coach Joe Spallina said this week of his team's effort against the Bayhawks. "We didn't do well on the faceoff. I thought our wing play was terrible. We were two sepreate units on offense. Lacked any coheision between attack and midfield."
Spallina said players were apologizing to him after the game, which pitted him against his brother, Bayhawks defenseman Brian Spallina.
"I told them don't apologize to me, apologize to each other," Spallina said. "We need to do a better job, and we will this week."
Rochester Rattlers (7-6)
at Charlotte Hounds, 7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN3.com
Rochester can clinch a playoff berth with a win AND a loss by Long Island. Rochester would move to 8-6 and Long Island would fall to 8-6. If Boston, Rochester and Long Island are tied at 8-6, Rochester would be the No. 3 seed as they would win the three way head-to-head tiebreaker seed and then Long Island would become the No. 4 seed based on holding a 2-0 head-to-head record against the Cannons. If only Rochester and Long Island are tied at 8-6 (assuming Boston wins), Rochester would advance based on holding a 2-0 head-to-head record over Long Island.
Chesapeake Bayhawks (10-3)
vs. Denver Outlaws, 7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN3.com
In Week 11, the No. 1 Bayhawks became the first team to clinch a 2012 playoff berth with an 11-7 win over the expansion Ohio Machine. The Bayhawks are now 10-3 after defeating the Lizards in Week 13. They will have home field advantage this week against the Denver Outlaws, who clinched the second playoff spot last week.
This game will determine which team will hold the No. 1 seed in the 2012 regular MLL season, and play in the first semifinal of championship weekend Saturday (1 p.m.). It's beneficial since the championship game will be played about 24 hours later on Sunday. Four of the last five MLL champions have played in the first semifinal.
"In a perfect world, if you could choose when you play, you'd choose that earlier game," Chesapeake coach Dave Cottle said this week.
Faceoff specialist Alex Smith, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October, will make his 2012 debut, Cottle said, and the team is likely to dress two faceoff guys, staying with Adam Rand as well. Smith is expected to take 10-12 draws.
"We have to get Alex into a game and find out whether or not he can be a factor in the playoffs," Cottle said.
Denver Outlaws (10-3)
at Chesapeake, 7 p.m. Saturday, ESPN3.com
The Denver Outlaws clinched a playoff berth last week with a win over the Rattlers. The win move Denver to 10-3. This week, the team will travel to face-off against the Chesapeake Bayhawks in a battle for first place in the standings.
Charlotte (4-9), Hamilton (3-10) and Ohio (2-11) have been eliminated from playoff contention.