NHL Playoffs 2020: Round 1 Countdown and Predictions

In Featured
Aug 12th, 2020

Well, the superior visual brands had a rough go in the first round, going 2-for-8, with just two biggest upsets – Montreal and Chicago – correctly predicted. To be fair, some of them were extremely close calls, but let’s hope the better(-looking) franchises do a bit better in the second round Round of 16.

• More: NHL Playoffs 2020: Qualifying Round Countdown and Predictions

As a quick recap, here’s how this works. We’ll compare the overall branding of each series and see how they match-up. This includes the logos, alternate logos, jerseys, historical logos and jerseys, general legacy and everything else that builds a team’s brand.

But on top of that, the match-ups are going to be ranked according to which will be the best to watch from an aesthetic standpoint. Some jerseys work better together than others, and you’ll see why. After 8 post-seasons (not including 2020), we’re 62-for-120, or 51.7%.

Okay, like last time, let’s start with the worst jersey match-up in the Round of 16…

This is a really strange collection of jersey matchups in this round. None of them are that bad. None of them are really that great. There’s pros and cons to all of them, making them a difficult collection to rank, and there’s arguments for any of these to be ranked much higher (or lower) than they are.

But someone has to be last. And for that, I’m going with Tampa Bay and Columbus. Why? Well, there’s a lot of blue, so it’s a little bland in terms of any sort of contrast between the two teams. And the Jackets’ navy blue – looking almost like black on the TV – doesn’t help things out at all. Sure, there’s some red to break things up, but it’s also the contrasting styles of Tampa’s classic minimalist approach and Columbus’ more ’90s-inspired modern approach that clash here. Not a bad match-up at all, but not a great one.

Tampa Bay Lightning Visual Brand: Decent logo, pretty good uniforms, and a disastrous jersey legacy featuring some of the worst things that ever graced the ice, not to mention their latest addition to a Bolts third jersey library of horrors. Despite all that, they’ve embraced a superior classically inspired minimalist aesthetic overall and have mostly held to that.

• More: BTLNHL #22: Tampa Bay Lightning
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Tampa Bay Lightning

Columbus Blue Jackets Visual Brand: Meanwhile, there’s Columbus. Relatively uninspiring jerseys with a mediocre logo and aside from a really nice third jersey, there’s never been anything here to get too excited about.

• More: BTLNHL #23: Columbus Blue Jackets
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Columbus Blue Jackets

Prediction: Lightning in 6

Again, not a bad matchup. It’s a classic red-vs-blue clash. But what hurts this matchup is – similar to the Bolts-Jackets – a distinct diversion of jersey styles. The Caps use a much more modern aesthetic with thin stripes, navy blue, and minimal chunks of colour, while the Islanders have reverted (thankfully) to their classic royal blue and orange colours with large, chunky stripes and bold colours.

Washington Capitals Visual Brand: Being burdened with what is generally one of the worst logos in the league isn’t going to help any brand, which is especially frustrating since they have a great logo in the Weagle staring them in the face. But lacklustre efforts with their jerseys – and, let’s be honest, they’ve never worn a really great jersey ever – means that they’re not really improving their brand anywhere else either.

• More: BTLNHL #24: Washington Capitals
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Washington Capitals

New York Islanders Visual Brand: Their current classic look is great…for the Islanders. The consensus is that they still don’t have a great logo, their jerseys are not too bad, and their third jerseys don’t stand up against some of the others in the league (and they have a history of some much, much worse ones). Oh, and Captain Gorton is still too recent to be completely forgotten.

• More: BTLNHL #20: New York Islanders
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: New York Islanders

Prediction: Capitals in 7 (in OT)

I don’t know if we’ve ever had a burgundy-vs-burgundy matchup in the playoffs ever before…and we still don’t. The Coyotes went with their Kachina-inspired black jerseys for their “home” games this playoff season, but we’ve still got a more unique and modern jersey matchup going on here. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of colour variation here aside from the Avs bringing in some blue in their home jerseys. Otherwise, it’s black/white/burgundy, and that’s about it.

Colorado Avalanche Visual Brand: They’ve been remarkably consistent in their visual brand since moving from Quebec City in 1995, using the same (relative mediocre) logo and recently going back to a jersey inspired strongly by their inaugural jerseys – the best they’ve worn. And their third jerseys (and Stadium Series jerseys) have been pretty good too.

• More: BTLNHL #29: Colorado Avalanche
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Colorado Avalanche

Arizona Coyotes Visual Brand: It’s cool to like their Kachina-styled ’90s jerseys again, but they’re still not great. And that’s not even close to being their worst jersey unfortunately. But their current logo is well executed and while they dropped the ball with their current jerseys, their previous versions were classic and modern at the same time.

• More: BTLNHL #9: Arizona Coyotes
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Arizona Coyotes

Prediction: Avalanche in 6

This is an instance where one of the matchups (the games “in” Chicago) are pretty great, while the other (the games “in” Vegas) are not pretty great. The matchup of Vegas’ grey/black home jerseys against Chicago’s mostly mono-chromatic road jerseys make for a relatively bland visual aesthetic. But the Blackhawks excellent home reds against a Vegas road jersey that has pops of gold and red throughout is pretty great visual. Sorry, still don’t like those white gloves though…and there definitely a competing clash of jersey styles.

Vegas Golden Knights Visual Brand: The Golden Knights get some decent kudos for their jerseys, but the consensus take on their logo is that is buried in the bottom half of the league. Understandably, there’s not really a visual brand legacy to help them out either. What you see on the ice this season is all there is for Vegas.

• More: HbD Breakdown: Vegas Golden Knights Jerseys
• More: HbD Breakdown: Vegas Golden Knights (Logo and Alternate Logo)

Chicago Blackhawks Visual Brand: They have one of the absolute best jerseys in the league, with their home reds. They have history (as the logo hasn’t changed at all since 1964, and the same concept since their inception in 1926). They have the Madhouse on Madison, a passionate fanbase, overall high-quality design, and Vince Vaughn on their side. They’ve even improved their outdoor game jersey game, with their latest monochromatic beauties. Overall, from a branding perspective, they’re a beast.

• More: BTLNHL #7: Chicago Blackhawks
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Chicago Blackhawks
• More: 2020 Winter Classic Jersey Countdown

Prediction: Blackhawks in 5

Similar to the last-ranked matchup on this list, there’s a lot of blue here. But, these are two shades of royal blue, ensuring there’s always a burst of colour on the ice no matter who the “home” team is. Add in some burst of yellow from St Louis and green from Vancouver – as well as relatively similar jersey styles – and you’ve got a pretty good visual matchup. It’s just very blue.

St Louis Blues Visual Brand: Their brand is solid (and mostly consistent throughout their existence), with their logo, jerseys, and visual legacy all in the top half of the league, with their historical third jerseys being among the absolute best in the league. They’ve made missteps in the past, but there’s no denying the strength of their visual brand at this point.

• More: BTLNHL #4: St. Louis Blues
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: St. Louis Blues

Vancouver Canucks Visual Brand: The Canucks have had a spotty past in terms of logos and jerseys, and regular rebrands every 10 years or so doesn’t speak to having any confidence in your visual identity (although the current one is finally seeming to stick). They’ve had jerseys that have pretty much been universally reviled. And a putrid home jersey. That being said, the Canucks have a solid concept for a logo (the execution is a bit too ’90s though), and one of the best alternate logos in the league. But again, their current jersey set is one of the best in the league. But yes, their first 30+ years prior were a bit of a mess.

• More: BTLNHL #10: Vancouver Canucks
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Vancouver Canucks

Prediction: Blues in 6

It’s not often that two black jerseys climb too high on a ranking like this, but this is more about setting a clean, contrasting canvas for the red-vs-yellow element to really pop. The Bruins have one of the best black jerseys ever, with tons of colour and contrast to give them strong visuals, and Carolina’s road whites are clean and allow the red to really come out. The games “in” Carolina are definitely the weaker of the two jersey matchups, keeping it from climbing any higher on this list.

Boston Bruins Visual Brand: This is an incredibly strong visual brand, epitomizing the “big, bad” moniker attached to it, using a consistent logo concept since 1948. They’re among the best in every single category from a visual brand perspective: great logo (2nd best imo), great jerseys, great legacy. They’re a beast.

• More: BTLNHL Finals: Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Boston Bruins

Carolina Hurricanes Visual Brand: Carolina has a chance here because of – and all apologies to Connecticut – having those amazing Whalers unis on the ice again. It’s pretty easily the best jersey they’ve ever worn, and having a logo mistaken for a toilet bowl doesn’t help much.

• More: BTLNHL #19: Carolina Hurricanes
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Carolina Hurricanes

Prediction: Bruins in 5

Is this 1967? Aside from the update to the construction of the jerseys (and design modifications forced by those updates), it certainly could be. While the classic look plays strong here, the clash of orange-vs-red is pretty aggressive on the eyes. There’s a lot of white (and some black) to break it up a little bit, but you definitely can’t say this is a bland visual matchup at all. Just not the most complementary.

Philadelphia Flyers Visual Brand: The Flyers have been remarkably consistent since their franchise began in 1967. Aside from some small adjustments to the shade of orange, they have exactly the same logo. They’re back to wearing their inaugural jerseys, and they continually set the bar high on what an orange jersey can be. They’ve had some weird diversions in the ’90s (which, to be fair, a lot of teams did), but this is a solid, and difficult to beat, visual brand.

• More: BTLNHL #3: Philadelphia Flyers
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Philadelphia Flyers

Montreal Canadiens Visual Brand: Uh yeah, it’s the Canadiens. The most iconic hockey sweater in existence that has endured for almost 100 years now. The “bleu, blanc et rouge” is on par with the Yankee pinstripes and has been celebrated in book and film. The logo is almost equally iconic. Montreal is a visual brand beast. And they didn’t let the ’90s influence their brand at all, which gives them a game right there.

• More: BTLNHL #5: Montreal Canadiens
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Montreal Canadiens

Prediction: Canadiens in 7

The Calgary Flames do not have a well-designed jersey, but the Dallas Stars represent what is probably their most ideal matchup in the league from an aesthetic perspective. Both teams bring a ton of colour and vibrancy to their jerseys, and the red-vs-green sets up a clash between complementary colours as well. In equal doses, complementary colours are visually competing with each other, and that’s exactly what happens here, setting up a battle on the ice and a battle for your eyes.

Dallas Stars Visual Brand: Their jerseys are really nice (and their recent Winter Classic jerseys don’t hurt either), but for everything else, they’re pretty average. They have a good, but not great logo, and a visual legacy that includes some truly iconic jerseys, but also the mooterus. It’s a decidedly mixed-bag.

• More: HbD News: New Dallas Stars Logo Leaked
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Dallas Stars

Calgary Flames Visual Brand: Their current jerseys aren’t great – one of the worst in the league – which is baffling considering the classic third (and Heritage Classic) jerseys they have staring them in the face. They’re a mess, with inconsistent and overly complex striping everywhere, and they’ve had some pretty bad jersey designs and alternative logos in the past. That being said, their great logo and decent brand legacy keeps them in the game. Visually, they’ve been incredibly consistent with their logo, using the same logo and colour scheme since moving from Atlanta in 1980.

• More: BTLNHL #13: Calgary Flames
• More: Worst to First Jerseys: Calgary Flames

Prediction: Flames in 7

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

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