2008 SEASON WAS DOWN TO THE WIRE
High drama from start to finish in exciting season of parity
The competition for playoff berths, home games and division titles during the 2008 regular season came right down to the wire, as many expected it would. With the conclusion of Sunday's Philadelphia-Toronto game, the regular season has come to an end. NLL.com takes a quick look at some interesting facts and figures from one of the most competitive regular seasons the league has ever seen.
To show just how high the level of competition was this season, consider that 2008 was the first regular season in which no team reached the 11-win mark since the league expanded to a 16-game regular season in 2002. Buffalo, Minnesota, New York and Philadelphia all tied for the league-best record of 10-6.
The New York Titans, who posted a 4-12 record as an expansion team in 2007, went 10-6 this season, which tied with three other teams for the league's best record. It's the first time that a second-year franchise either had or tied for the league's best regular season record since the Toronto Rock in 1999. Following their expansion year of 1998 (a season they played in Hamilton as the Ontario Raiders), Toronto posted a league-best 9-3 record. The Rock went on to win the league championship that season.
Titans head coach Adam Mueller is taking his third team to the NLL playoffs, becoming the first coach in league history to lead three different franchises to the post-season. Mueller coached Philadelphia to the playoffs in 2002, Minnesota to the playoffs in 2006, and now New York in 2008.
While the Titans are the newcomers to the dance, this year's playoffs will be without some very familiar faces. The Rochester Knighthawks missed the playoffs for the first time in the 14-year history of the franchise. It was even more surprising to many as the Knighthawks went 14-2 last season and won the league championship. It's the first time that the defending championship team failed to make the playoffs since the 1991 Philadelphia Wings, who won the league championship in 1990, and then failed to make the playoffs in '91 with a 5-5 record.
The Toronto Rock have missed the playoffs for the first time in their ten seasons of play in Toronto (1999-2008). With Toronto and Rochester having their playoff streaks snapped, the franchise that now holds the longest active streak of seasons in the playoffs is Colorado. The Mammoth franchise now reached the post-season in eight consecutive seasons, starting their current streak in 2001.
On the other side of the coin, Philadelphia returns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, snapping the longest playoff drought of any team in this year's post-season.