Watching the Saskatchewan Rush lose out in the first round of the National Lacrosse League playoffs was not easy.
After my three favourite teams all disappointed by dropping from the playoff picture early in the National Hockey League I had higher hopes for the defending champion Rush.
In the end it took a strange goal as the clock ticked near full time by Saskatchewan to tie the contest and take the game to overtime.
In OT an ill-timed pass was robbed by Colorado’s Joey Cupido who rumbled the floor on a breakaway to score the winner.
The loss was a bitter pill, especially after the Rush defeated the same Mammoth team a week earlier in the final regular season contest, giving Saskatchewan 11 regular season wins, with Colorado having only six.
Some of course point to the one game playoff as flawed, although I can’t say I see it as any more, or less, fair than a best of seven.
One game for your playoff life is hardly unique. The Olympics settle gold medal matches in sports such as hockey and basketball on one game affairs. Ditto, the world championships in those sports.
Football is a one game format.
Soccer at the World Cup level, a highly watched event is a one game format, and Major League Soccer is moving away from their two-game format to a one game affair come the playoffs.
There is some thinking that the better team eventually wins out in a ‘best of’ series, but does that suggest three games is sufficient to let the best team emerge? Or five? We tend to think of seven since the NHL, NBA and MLB use that format, but why not a best of nine instead?
Series are not to give the better teams a better chance. They are to increase revenues via seat sales and TV contracts and nothing more, not to suggest making money in running a sport franchise is a bad thing.
And often the ‘best-of’ series percolates down to the same one game for the marbles scenario.
We look at a game seven in a series as the epitome of the game. Two teams meeting with everything on the line in one final epic game. That is just what a one game playoff is without the money generating prelude of games leading up to a game seven.
As for the NLL, the first round was darned exciting with three of the four games decided by a total of only four goals.
And, while my Rush are out, two Canadian teams did advance to the semi-finals, Toronto taking on Buffalo in the east in a match-up of long-time rivals, and Calgary hosting Colorado in the west. The potential for an all-Canadian cities final existed and Calgary did their part as goaltender Christian Del Bianco was a wall for the Roughnecks making 47 saves on 51 shots in an 8-4 win.
Out east the Rock were in the game for a while but the Bandits pulled away for a 12-8 win.
The best-of-three starts the on 18th, with game two on the 25th, and they should be good ones to watch.
In other Saskatchewan sports news the Rattlers took to the court last Thursday in Saskatoon for the inaugural game in the Canadian Elite Basketball League.
It was certainly entertaining as the Rattlers led most of the way over Niagara River Lions, but the Lions ended up stealing the win 99-97. Admittedly, I don’t count basketball as a sport high up on my favourite list, but I do enjoy the Toronto
Raptors because I have gotten to know the players by sight on TV. I suspect as I watch more Rattler action on CEBL.TV that will make the games more enjoyable as recognition comes.
The crowd was apparently around 3300, and on a night the Toronto Raptors were on television in a game six contest with Philly, which would have no doubt kept some basketball fans at home.
A quick side note the Raptors lost game six, but won game seven on a buzzer-beater by Kawhi Leonard, to head to the NBA east final against Milwaukee.
The CEBL has a real solid chance to be a success, and I like that there is a limit of only three import players per team, meaning lots of opportunity for Canadian players to shine.
And, shine the Rattlers did in their second game putting up 130 in a win over Guelph. It was a lot of fun watching that one, and the broadcast quality has been very good.
It is encouraging to see leagues such as the CEBL and new Canadian Premier League in soccer joining the Canadian Football League as domestic pro leagues giving Canadian athletes a place to excel.