NHL Playoffs 2014 (Round 4) Countdown and Predictions
After a tremendous second round, going 4-for-4 in my predictions based on the team’s branding, the third round was less auspicious, with my predictions going 0-for-2. That brings the total record to 9-for-14, which still guarantees an outcome of over .500 for the predictions. Which is still better than most experts. But not as good as some primates. Or octopods. Next year, I’ll let my cat pick instead. In the (slightly altered) words of Lucic, I’ll fucking kill [it] next year.
But because there’s only one match-up this round, there’s not much point in doing the countdown for the best-looking match-ups that we’ve done the last three rounds. So instead, we’ll count down all 15 match-ups, because I like to make extra work for myself. And also to right a couple wrongs from the rankings in the previous rounds.
For those just joining, we’ll compare the overall branding of this final two combatants and see how they match-up. This includes the logos, alternate logos, jerseys, historical logos and jerseys, and everything else that builds a team’s brand. Short but sweet, live a certain strawberry cake. You can catch-up by reading Round 1, Round 2 and the Conference Finals. But first, the Stanley Cup prediction…
Los Angeles Kings v New York Rangers
The Kings have been a team in branding desert, and have been retooling their logo for years. In 14 years, they’ve had 4 distinctly different logos, and each of the previous three are better than their current one, with a crown too small to make out and letters that look awful on a home plate shape. And they forced the greatest player to play the game to wear one of the worst jerseys ever created in the NHL. But, they’ve kept to their black and white motif (with flashes of a regal purple thrown in now and again, which also makes a connection to their original colours) for over 24 years, a scheme that no one else in the league has toyed with, so it’s all their own. And as they find success in the black-and-white, there’s no question that brand gets stronger. That’s a great bonus for establishing an identity, but up until recently, it’s has been maddeningly inconsistent. And that logo is pretty bad. C’mon Kings fans, you know it’s true. Oh, and that Stadium Series jersey doesn’t help either.
Meanwhile, the Rangers were ranked as having the 12th best logo in the league. The Rangers have a history of a solid logo concept since the 1920s and nobody in the league save the Canadiens can match the uniqueness and iconic nature of the Rangers’ home jerseys that have stood the test of time. Often imitated, never duplicated. Their alternate logo is just okay, but not enough to take away from the brand overall, and their jersey for the 2012 Winter Classic more than compensates, as well as having a relatively solid Stadium Series jersey. Although the Rangers haven’t enjoyed the legacy and history of on-ice success that many Original Six teams have had, the Blueshirts are not a brand to be messed with.
Rangers in 6.
Well, the Sharks didn’t leave their black thirds in their closets, which made this match-up extremely boring to watch from an aesthetic standpoint. Monochromatically black Kings jerseys versus mostly white Sharks jerseys in LA. And then monochromatically white Kings versus black Sharks jerseys in San Jose. Ugh. Seriously, they didn’t even pull out the teal jerseys once. It’ll be like watching black-and-white television with just the players faces coloured in, like those awful and cheesy photographs that were so big a decade ago. And if the Sharks’ monumental collapse didn’t convince them to put those jerseys in the trash and stick with the teal, I don’t know what will.
Monochromatically black Kings jerseys versus almost completely monochromatic Ducks jerseys in LA. And then monochromatically white Kings versus mostly black Ducks jerseys in Anaheim. Bleah again. It was still better than the LA-San Jose series, not only because the Sharks refused to wear their teal jerseys the entire series, but the Ducks wore their alternate home jerseys, which at least has splashes of orange in there. However, they didn’t take the suggestion to wear their Stadium Series jerseys the entire series, which would have been awesome by being totally awful. At least it wouldn’t have been black-and-white.
There was a little more colour in this match-up than in either of the previous Kings match-ups, but not much. For Columbus, their current jerseys are pretty well-designed, but the navy blue is a bit too dark (if you’re using a dark blue that’s going to look like black, then what’s the point?). They have splashes of red in there, including the red shorts, which will be a welcome addition, especially playing Pittsburgh who (like the Kings) have a fairly monochromatic colour scheme to their jerseys. But I have been and always will be a fan of their Vegas gold. It’s classy and unique. But combined, this isn’t that interesting of a match-up to watch, still leaning towards the monochromatic too much.
The Stars are definitely not the ones holding this match-up down, with their fantastic new jerseys showcasing a brand new (and unique for the league) shade of green that looks beautiful on the ice. But about that logo…. The Ducks, however, aren’t holding up their side of the bargain, with boring black and white jerseys with hints of beige. Yeehaw. For the games in Dallas, the orange trim on the white jerseys are so minimal, it’s not even worth mentioning. In Anaheim, however, they mostly wore their third jerseys again (or should we call them the primary jerseys at this point?), which helped spice things up a bit.
Gary Bettman’s wet dream of a Stanley Cup Finals match-up won’t necessarily be awful to watch from a visual standpoint. The games in New York will be the better ones, with the white-jerseyed Kings against the legendary Blueshirts. Red, white and blue! ‘Merica! But the games in Los Angeles will be lacking somewhat. Good thing the Rangers’ white road jerseys are almost as legendary as their blue homes. I respect the Kings owning the black-and-white, I really do. It just doesn’t make for aesthetically-interesting games. Do you think we could convince the Rangers and Kings to both wear their Stadium Series jerseys? Actually, no, that would be worse.
There’s a little more colour in this Penguins’ match-up than in their previous one, again the Jackets, as the Rangers have royal blue jerseys rather than the Blue Jackets’ navy blue. It’s an improvement, especially when playing Pittsburgh who (like the Kings) have a fairly monochromatic colour scheme to their jerseys. I’ve always been a fan of their Vegas gold, as it’s classy and unique, and it has a bit more colour in it than the Kings’ jerseys, placing this match-up slightly ahead of the Stanley Cup finals. Vegas gold against the Blueshirts wasn’t so bad to watch.
Stanley Cup Western Conference Final featured the monochromatic Kings jerseys, which again, brought this whole series down aesthetically. As we know, the ‘Hawks have some of the best jerseys in hockey – both home and away. But with the Kings adding no colour into the mix, they didn’t hold up their end of the aesthetic match-up. Like the Rangers series with the Kings, the games where they’re in their road whites was better. The red, black and white looked great. It was also another potential Stadium Series jerseys match-up, but it was good they avoided it. Grey versus black? No thanks. In no way, however, did any of this reflect the quality of the hockey being played, as it was some of the best in recent history. That Game 7? Ridiculous.
It still feels wrong to rank this Original Six match-up so low on the list, as they both have the best logos in the league and beautiful jerseys. The dominant black of the Bruins jerseys hurt this match-up’s case, making it just slightly more monochromatic and less visually appealing than the remaining match-ups, but there’s really a good amount of gold in their jerseys to keep things interesting. This one was a pleasure to watch aesthetically, even though the series, in the end, wasn’t really all that close at all.
This was an interesting match-up, with a new era of colours in the league competing: burgundy and royal blue versus hunter green and red. It’s not your classic red versus blue that generally dominates the league, but there definitely won’t be a shortage of colour on the ice with either of these teams either. The Wild stuck with their green home jerseys (pictured here) rather than their red ones. Would’ve been interesting to see the reds out there, but I have no complaints about the greens either. It was good to watch these two teams play, an era of different colours in the NHL.
Another Original Six match-up for the Bruins, making for another classic jersey match-up again the Habs. Montreal has some of the best jerseys in the business with their iconic reds and classy (and colourful) whites. The Bruins wear their black jerseys with pride and have enough yellow splashed on there to at least make it look more interesting and not so monochromatic. This was an absolute pleasure to watch, regardless of the scores. Bonus: all the primary colours are represented: blue and red on the Habs, yellow on the Bruins. And it was some of the most entertaining hockey in the playoffs.
A classic blue versus red matchup, with two of the more colourful and interesting jerseys taking over the ice. The Blackhawks have one of the nicest jerseys to have ever existed in the league with their home reds, and their road whites aren’t too shabby either. The Blues are currently wearing the best jerseys they’ve ever worn and with a perfect yellow trim on their design, it becomes a celebration of primary colours on the ice. The visuals was just as good as the actual hockey with this match-up, complete with a sense of deja-vu thrown in.
The Wild have some of the most underrated jerseys in the league. Their green third jerseys (which they again wore in all their home games) are among the best in the league. Their new road whites are the also among the best in the league. Mixed with a team who wears some of the best jerseys in the league with the Blackhawks, this has the makings of a great-looking match-up. On top of all that, the red vs green is another complimentary colour match-up, so with any complimentary colours what are meant to only accent each other, if you have them in amounts that are too equal to each other, they begin to clash. It was awesome to watch.
It’s tough to compete with a classic red versus blue match-up in the NHL. Some of the most iconic and stories rivalries in hockey have been this way: Habs vs Leafs, Leafs vs Red Wings, Blackhawks vs Rangers, Habs vs Nordiques, etc. It’s got a long history of entertaining hockey and visually, nothing else compares. Tampa Bay recently joined the conversation with their conversion from black jerseys to blue ones, and a refinement of their branding overall, from a couple seasons ago. It was beautiful to watch these two teams battle, even if the hockey itself ended up being a bit lopsided, but that’s what losing your starting goaltender will do for a team (#spoileralert).
This one rights a wrong that I made in the first round match-up rankings. Habs/Bolts were originally ranked higher than this one, and after actually watching both series, it obvious that was a mistake. Blue and orange are complimentary colours, but like any complimentary colours what are meant to only accent each other (think LA Lakers or the Wild), if you have them in amounts that are too equal to each other, they begin to clash. With this match-up, that was a great thing. The orange Flyers against the Blueshirts. A literal visual clash – on top of being a hockey clash – of two of the better (and more colourful) sets of jerseys in the game today.
So, about losing your starting goaltender… Okay, Tokarski played incredibly well for the situation, but it definitely didn’t hurt the Rangers chances in the series. Aesthetically though, was there any doubt this would be the best match-up? Yet another Original Six match-up. And we’ve got a classic red-vs-blue match-up between Montreal’s iconic reds and the Blueshirts of New York. Even the white road jerseys of both these teams are some of the best in the league, with a nice amount of colour of the shoulder yokes and stripings. It actually might get a bit confusing as the two teams have almost identical jerseys in many ways, but just with the blues and reds swapping places. Regardless, it was another series that was an absolute pleasure to watch no matter what team you were cheering for.
Agree? Disagree? What was your favourite match-up to watch? Let us know in the comments below!