NLL playoff games will feature a three-man officiating crew on the floor, an increase from the two-man crews used during the regular season.
Also new to the postseason format, the Division Finals and Champion’s Cup Finals both expand to a two-game series from the previous single-game elimination setup. The Rochester Knighthawks and top-seeded Edmonton Rush will play the winners of the Division Semifinal games in the East and West Division Finals respectively.
Teams who win both games shall win the two-game series. In the event of a series split with both teams winning one game, a 10-minute tiebreaker game will be played immediately following the conclusion of Game Two to determine the winner of the playoff series.
The rules for the 10-minute tiebreaker game are as follows:
- All penalties will carry over from the four quarters previously played in Game Two of the series. This will include any accrual rules for major penalties (Rule 38.2) and any penalties for that matter (minors, majors, misconducts, match penalties) that were not able to be served in its entirety prior to the end of the fourth quarter. Players who are ejected during Game Two of the series during the first four quarters of the game, are NOT permitted to play in the 10-minute overtime and five-minute sudden death overtime periods.
- The goalies will change ends at the end of the fourth quarter for the beginning of the 10-minute overtime. Should the game be tied at the end of the overtime, the goalies shall change ends prior to the beginning of the five-minute sudden death overtime.
- Teams shall have one timeout per 10-minute overtime period, and one timeout per five-minute sudden death period. They cannot be carried over (Rule 14).
- There shall be one media timeout under the five minute mark of the 10-minute overtime period.
- Instant replay challenges: In the 10-minute overtime period, teams will have one challenge flag opportunity. Officials shall still initiate reviews less than two minutes in the fourth quarter of the game, will initiate challenges two minutes or less in the 10-minute overtime period, and will initiate reviews in the entire five-minute sudden death period. Head coaches will not be able to challenge any plays in the five-minute sudden death period (Rule 17.8).
- Illegal substitution resulting in a penalty shot during the less than two minutes in the fourth quarter shall remain in tact. Should an illegal substitution occur less than two minutes in the 10-minute overtime period, there will be a penalty shot assessed. Also, should an illegal substitution occur anytime in the five-minute sudden death overtime period, it shall be a penalty shot awarded to the non offending team (Rule 56.8).
- Interval length between the fourth quarter and the 10-minute overtime and the 10-minute overtime and 5 minute sudden death overtime periods, shall be a two-minute interval unless TV requires more or less per rule (Rule 10.1).
The new playoff format was made official this past offseason when the league reached an accord with the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association for a new seven-year Collective Bargaining Agreement through the 2020 NLL season.