The 2018 Bucket Bracket Showdown (The Finals)
And then there were two.
This year’s Finals match up is one of Cinderella stories, the unlikely newcomers from Vegas taking on a Capitals team who have done the impossible and advanced beyond the second round. While both teams may be rookies when it comes to the Finals, Marc-Andre Fleury is no stranger to Stanley Cup success.
But how does Flower’s mask stack up against Holtby’s? We’ll break down this match up in great detail, going through a head-to-head in composition, artistry, branding, innovation and intangibles to see who will be crowned our fourth Bucket Bracket champion.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals
Marc-Andre Fleury (Griffe Airbrush) vs. Braden Holtby (Daveart)
In comparing the compositions of these two masks, we’ll look at how each artist arranged the different design elements to create an overall legible and compelling piece. Starting with MAF in the west, artist Stephane Bergeron went all-out Vegas for the goaltender’s first ever Golden Knights bucket. “The challenge was to paint all these small details of the Las Vegas Strip combined with the idea of being a knight,” Bergeron recently told Luxury Las Vegas. The elements chosen to fill out each side of Flower’s mask embody the team and the city, as well as the extravagance and excess of the Las Vegas lifestyle. Bergeron uses the Golden Knights logo as a divider between the two sides of the mask, which helps provide some order to such a hyper-detailed piece.
• More: HbD Interviews: Dave Gunnarsson
Holtby’s mask on the other hand, has a much more basic composition, something we don’t often say about Daveart creations. Focusing on the Capitals logo as the main design element, Gunnarsson creates a visual hierarchy using color and scale between the logo, stars and detail in the negative space. While the design has far fewer elements than that of Fleury’s mask, the clarity and placement gives Holtby the edge on composition.
Fleury – 0
Holtby – 1
Artistry and Style
These two artists have completely different styles, and both masks certainly embody that. Fleury’s bucket is packed with detail, from the Vegas skyline to the gold leaf patterns in the background, Bergeron’s flawless execution through every inch of this mask is quite remarkable.
Across the ice, Holtby’s mask has no shortage of detail or precision either, including Gunnarsson’s signature holograms and gradients. What gives Fleury the edge here, however, is the originality. Working with the clean slate of a new franchise and a trusting goaltender, Bergeron was able to take the infancy of the Vegas brand and Fleury as a client and create something totally new and unique. Holtby’s mask, while skillfully executed, is something we’ve seen plenty of times before, giving Flower the win to tie this series up at one a side.
Fleury – 1
Holtby – 1
Use of Team Branding
While masks have always been a way for goaltenders to express their own personal style, the inclusion of team identity is also an important piece of the design. The respective approaches for these two teams are quite different, one being a brand new franchise, while the other has decades of history to consider.
On Fleury’s mask, Bergeron incorporated the city itself in the form of landmarks and glitz, using gold foil in the negative space not only as a nod to Las Vegas’ glamorous reputation, but the metallic thread on the team’s jerseys.
For Holtby, Gunnarsson used the Caps’ brand as the primary driver for this design, taking the team’s logo as the mask’s centerpiece and incorporating other elements from the brand like the red stars and legacy logos in the background. The brand is subtlety there in Fleury’s mask, but the more overt application in Holtby’s overtakes his opponent.
Fleury – 1
Holtby – 2
From holograms to color changing paint, artists continue to push the envelope when it comes to the next big trend or technology in mask design. Dave Gunnarsson has been one of the pioneers with his vast assortment of techniques for adding pizazz and dimension to his masks. Holtby’s bucket is no exception, showcasing holographic logos and depth effects throughout.
While Fleury’s paint job may not have the same high-tech tricks that Holtby’s does, the level of creative innovation required to design a franchise’s first ever mask shouldn’t go unnoticed. While Holtby has stuck with a very similar concept for three seasons now, Bergeron was faced with the challenge of inventing an entirely new design for Fleury with hardly any reference or history to base it on. The innovation and creativity required to execute on such a challenge gives Flower’s mask the win and ties this match up at two.
Fleury – 2
Holtby – 2
Last year’s final match up also resulted in a tie heading into the intangibles round, requiring a judgement call based on overall aesthetic value to decide the winner. With Fleury getting the edge in artistry and innovation, and Holtby taking the cake in branding and composition, we now have to put aside the sums of their parts and decide which mask is superior overall.
Considering the context and how each of these masks look on the ice with the team’s sweaters, both were thoughtfully designed with consideration of the team’s color palette, but the bold simplicity of Holtby’s gives it the necessary legibility from afar that Fleury’s design is lacking. There’s no denying the artistry and attention to detail in Fleury’s mask, but it’s hard to really appreciate that execution when the mask is in action, and for that, Holtby takes the decisive final match up and the Bucket Bracket crown.
Congratulations, Braden! Take that title with pride!
Fleury – 2
Holtby – 3