The 2020 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Conference Quarterfinals
In true 2020 fashion, chaos reigned supreme in the qualifying round. Montreal and Chicago pulled off unlikely upsets in their respective series, the Presidents Trophy-winning Bruins failed to secure a single victory in the round robin, and after being swept by the Hurricanes, the Rangers won the Lafreniere sweepstakes in phase two of the draft lottery. Ooof.
Now we’ve moved on to what some would call the “real” playoffs and best of seven series with some unexpected participants, which means unexpected buckets between the pipes. Let’s start with the East and see which masks would advance to the conference semifinals.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Carter Hart (Fran Drummond, Paintzoo) vs. Carey Price (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
Just as we all saw coming (right?), the top-seeded Flyers take on the number eight Montreal Canadiens in the conference quarterfinals. After many years of a comical goaltending carousel, Philly seems to have finally found their guy in Carter Hart, who in this series faces off against his childhood idol, Carey Price.
Hart’s mask, painted by Fran Drummond, has a number of really touching tributes incorporated, including portraits of late Flyers goaltender Ray Emery with his nickname “Razor” on the back, along with “Oskar Strong” in support of his teammate who is battling Ewing’s sarcoma.
After testing it in practice, Carey Price is now wearing the new @CCMGoalie AXIS mask in games. Both the shell and liner are significant upgrades from the previous model.— Goalie Gear Nerd (@GoalieGearNerd) August 14, 2020
#GoalieGearNerd #GGNCCM https://t.co/ConRKPs1Ga
Price actually debuted a new Daveart mask since the play-in round, but like its predecessor, this design doesn’t bring much to the table from a creativity standpoint. While the placement of the logos and matte texture make for a more modern look, the simple logo-centric bucket doesn’t give us much to dissect. In this match up, the sentiment paired with the artistry in the portraiture on Hart’s mask takes the W.
Result: Flyers in 6
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Sylvie Marsolais, Sylabrush) vs. Joonas Korpisalo (Sylvie Marsolais, Sylabrush)
Next is a rare all-Sylabrush series that’s already set the highest of bars for entertainment factor after a 5OT thriller to kick off the round. To start things off, Andrei “Big Cat” Vasilevskiy faced off against one half of the Blue Jackets’ dynamo goaltending tandem, Joonas Korpisalo, who oh by the way made EIGHTY FIVE SAVES in game one.
• More: HbD Interviews: Sylvie Marsolais
This match up of masks is nearly as close as the actual series on the ice, as both are beautifully executed in Marsolais’ signature style. Vasilevskiy has stuck with a similar design in recent years, with sharp chrome accents and a hyper-realistic lion on top. Korpi’s bucket boasts many of the same tricks, with black and gray realistic cannons on each side framed by a dynamic Ohio flag wrapping around.
This is a tough one, because both are so flawlessly executed by the same artist, so if we’re sticking with the theme of game one, Korpi literally threw the kitchen sink at this battle, but Vasy sneaks away with a 5OT victory.
Result: Lightning in 7 (5OT)
Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders
Braden Holtby (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Semyon Varlamov (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
Moving from one Daveart-clad opponent to the next, Varlamov and the Islanders defeated Bobrovsky’s Florida Panthers in the play-in round and advanced to face Braden Holtby and the Caps.
Not dissimilar to the qualifier match up between Varlamov and Bobrovsky’s masks, these are both classic Daveart looks, packed with holograms, special effects, and layered patterns and textures. Both are very team-centric themes in Gunnarsson’s signature style, and honestly they could probably be worn by any Caps or Islanders goaltender interchangeably.
• More: HbD Interviews: Dave Gunnarsson
While neither jumps out as being super unique from a design standpoint, the white in Holtby’s allows the design elements to breathe better, creating for a more legible and appealing composition overall. For that reason, Washington takes the series.
Result: Caps in 6
Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Jaroslav Halak (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Petr Mrazek (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
Well this was a plot twist… in full transparency, I wrote this whole analysis with Mrazek’s Daveart buckets going up against Tuukka Rask’s iconic demon bear mask by Ron Slater (with Rask getting the sweep) until Rask abruptly opted out of the postseason before game three and passed the torch to Jaro Halak. Now we have ourselves another all-Daveart battle in a rematch of last year’s clubs from the eastern conference final.
Both these masks are very typical of Gunnarsson’s style, leaning heavily on logos and special effects to create depth in otherwise pretty simple compositions. Halak’s mask has a spoked B on each side built out of bricks and an abstract double Cross of Lorraine from the Slovakian coat of arms on top.
Mrazek on the other hand has a few different Daveart masks this season, each designed to be paired with one of Carolina’s three jerseys. While the color palette and certain design elements vary from mask to mask, the overall bones of the composition are the same. On each of the three, Gunnarsson framed the mask with Carolina’s alternate stick and flag logo on each side and either a C or the diagonal “Canes” word mark across the top.
Like both Holtby and Varlamov, from a creativity standpoint both lose points here given that these masks could be worn by just about anyone in their respective cities. It’s a close call, but the variety in Mrazek’s full mask suite gives Carolina the slight edge.
Result: Canes in 7
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Robin Lehner (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Corey Crawford (Stephane Bergeron, Griff Airbrush)
In another unexpected plot twist, Robin Lehner, getting the start over Fleury, and the top-seeded Golden Knights square off against the team that traded Lehner to Vegas and an unlikely playoff foe in Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Since being moved to Vegas at the deadline, Lehner has commissioned two new masks, the second of which he’s worn since getting the nod to start the series against his former team. There’s a lot going on with this design, from the graffiti-style panda on top, to the knights on the sides, masks in the background, and the #SameHere hashtag small in the corner. It’s a very stylized look, even with some classic Daveart tricks worked in, and while extremely busy, Gunnarsson does a good job of separating the design elements with the sketchy white borders and drop shadows.
Crawford on the other hand just kept what worked. “He just asked for the same design as last season because he really like[d it],” Stephane Bergeron shared with us before the season started. The soft, 90s-esque airbrushing style and team-centric design element speak to what we’ve come to expect from Crawford in recent years, earning him a solid B grade in our preseason mask round up.
Lehner certainly gets creativity points for the unique design elements on his, but the overall composition and legibility of Crawford’s prevails.
Result: Blackhawks in 6
Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes
Philipp Grubauer (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Darcy Kuemper (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
And what do we have here, another all Daveart match up! In perhaps what could be considered the ultimate 90s brand revival series, Philipp Grubauer and the Avs take on Darcy Kuemper and the Kachina-clad Coyotes. Unfortunately for the purposes of the BBS, the masks in this series don’t quite stack up with the jerseys they’re paired with.
Starting with Colorado, Grubauer’s mask actually has a really great composition. Reminiscent of the logo on the team’s alternate jerseys, the abstract depiction of the Rockies on the side is actually quite nice. It’s graphic and bold, and nicely compliments the team’s brand.
Across the ice, Kuemper’s mask is a story of untapped potential. We’ve seen some really stellar Kachina masks in the past (looking at you, Mike Smith – oh, and we have merch for that!), and this Daveart interpretation just misses the mark. Everything that’s so beloved about the Kachina logo – bold lines, color blocking, minimalism – is missed in this mask, cluttered with gradients and special effects.
Grubauer’s mask could’ve been stronger if it tapped into the same kind of minimalism paint job that Kuemper’s so desperately needs, but the composition is on point and gets Colorado the easy win.
Result: Avalanche in 4
Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames
Ben Bishop (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Cam Talbot (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
In another all-Daveart match up, we have Ben Bishop, who is no stranger to the Bucket Bracket Showdown, the champion of the inaugural tournament, facing off against Cam Talbot and the Calgary Flames.
Bishop’s glowing masks have long been a favorite in these battles come playoff time, being one of the first to adopt Gunnarsson’s glow paint technology back when the netminder was with the Lightning. While the concept isn’t quite as relevant now that Bishop is with the Stars, the design is still just as compelling with neon elements popping off of a rich black backdrop.
Also a client of Gunnarsson’s, Cam Talbot too has stuck with a similar motif over the years, including Ghostbusters-themed design elements on his masks each season. His most recent mask is no exception, a classic Daveart style with ghosts on the side, glitter and a Flames logo on top.
Putting these two Daveart buckets head-to-head, the busy composition of Talbot’s is no match for the bold lines and dynamic design of Bishop’s, giving the Stars an easy sweep.
Result: Stars in 4
St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks
Jordan Binnington (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Jacob Markstrom (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
Last but not least is another classic all-Daveart battle (because sure, why not) between defending Cup champion Jordan Binnington’s Blues and Jacob Markstrom’s Canucks. Binnington’s masks have received some pretty harsh critiques in our past breakdowns, but this season’s iteration makes some sizable improvements over the 2018-19 version. From our preseason mask roundup:
Keeping the gritty texture, Gunnarsson incorporates some more unique design elements this time around, like the “JB” monogram on the chin above the St. Louis arch, and the Stanley Cup Champions logo on the backplate.
Markstrom’s mask, seen on the ice for the first time this postseason, has a lot of really interesting elements; painterly brush strokes, chrome logos, and a well-balanced symmetrical composition. Binnington really has no fight here and gets steamrolled by Markstrom’s shiny silver paint job.
Result: Canucks in 4