The 2021 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Round 2
After an opening round of both hard-fought upsets and surprising sweeps, we’re on to round 2 and one step closer to crowning another Bucket Bracket Champion.
You know the drill – we’re going to take a look at each presumed* starting goaltender’s bucket (*presumed, so don’t yell at me if someone different ends up in net), and break them down based on branding, artistry, composition, and overall aesthetic value.
Our picks went 6 for 8 in the first round, so let’s dive in and see who’d emerge victorious in round two.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Islanders
Tuukka Rask (Ron Slater, Slater Lettering & Graphics) vs. Ilya Sorokin (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
After hard-fought series wins over the Capitals and Penguins, respectively, Tuukka Rask and game one starter Ilya Sorokin are already underway in their round two face off. A former BBS champion, Rask and his demon bear bucket are no strangers to playoff pressure, while the Isles’ rookie looked strong against the offensive firepower of the Penguins.
• More: HbD Interviews: Ron Slater
Both these masks are similar in composition – using symmetry with team branding on the sides and personal stamps like a name or number on the chin. Rask’s mask, painted by the netminder’s long time artist Ron Slater, has almost an understated flash, using gilded accents to pop off an intricately painted yet simple composition of a bear head with spoked-Bs and claws on each side. The way in which Slater executed this piece creates a lot of depth and texture in what’s otherwise a fairly simple layout.
Sorokin’s mask by prolific artist Dave Gunnarsson tugs on fans’ nostalgia heartstrings, bringing back the Isles’ beloved fisherman and lighthouse logos.
The blue and orange contrast on this mask is great, and of course bonus points for the nostalgia factor, but the depth created through the detail in Rask’s bucket wins by a slight margin.
Result: Bruins in 6
Winnipeg Jets vs. Montreal Canadiens
Connor Hellebuyck (Steve Nash, Eyecandyair) vs. Carey Price (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)
After stunning the Maple Leafs with a series comeback after trailing 3-1 (hm, sounds familiar…), Carey Price and the Habs punched their ticket to round two, to face off against Connor Hellebuyck and the Winnipeg Jets. These two goaltenders’ masks are extremely different, from their style to the overall themes, but both are very well executed. Let’s start with Hellebuyck.
Painted by Steve Nash of Eyecandyair, the design centers around nature and landscape scenery, including imagery of the goaltender himself, and his dog pulling a sled in the snowy farmland of Manitoba. How Nash framed these vignettes with branches helps create order in the composition and adds a nice warm-cool contrast to the color palette.
Price’s mask on the other hand is full-on Habs brand, a major departure from his intricate J Bo Airbrush bucket we looked at in round 1. Titled “Price vintage art,” the design is made up of three large Canadiens logos placed on each side and on the top center of the mask. In true Daveart-fashion, tiny holographic logos and faux chrome accents add visual interest to fill out and add depth to the very simple composition.
While this is one of the cleaner masks we’ve seen from Gunnarsson, and there’s not a lot to dislike, the creativity and artistry in Hellebuyck’s gives Winnipeg the easy victory.
Result: Jets in 4
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Sylvie Marsolais, Sylabrush) vs. Alex Nedeljkovic (Ray Bishop, Bishop Designs)
After getting back their offensive powerhouses for the postseason, Tampa Bay breezed past the Panthers in six games. In the other Central division series, Carolina also defeated Nashville in six games and booked themselves a second round date with the defending Cup champs.
Both Vasilevskiy and Nedeljkovic have stellar masks by two of our favorite artists, so this series will make for a great artistic showdown.
• More: HbD Interviews: Sylvie Marsolais
Starting with Tampa, Vasilevsky has had one of the most consistent mask designs over the past few seasons. Painted by Sylvie Marsolais, the monochromatic bucket incorporates the Russian coat of arms with Lightning-centric elements like palm trees and graphic bolt silhouettes. The mixture of styles between the soft realistic lion on top and graphic typography show off Marsolais’ artistic talent and give this mask a lot of visual interest.
Across the ice, rookie Nedeljkovic’s Bishop Designs mask flawlessly executes the faux-toque look with detailed stitching and textures in the fabric. Both these masks show off the skill of their respective artists, making for a very close match up. Sticking with the theme of this year’s postseason, this one is going to end in overtime with Big Cat Vasilevskiy taking the series by a slight margin due to the cohesion in the overall composition.
Result: Lightning in 7 (OT)
Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Philipp Grubauer (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart) vs. Marc-Andre Fleury (Stephane Bergeron, Griff Airbrush)
In perhaps one of the most highly anticipated match ups of this postseason, the two powerhouses of the west – Colorado and Vegas – are set to face off in the second round. Both heavy Cup favorites in nearly every predictive model, this series is sure to be a tight and exciting one, but enough about real hockey – let’s take a look at the masks. (Note: Robin Lehner started game one, but we’re assuming for the purposes of this analysis that Fleury will take over for game two).
• More: HbD Interviews: Dave Gunnarsson
Grubauer has reverted back to his 2020 Daveart mask, titled “Rocky Mountains Hockey,” that layers the Denver skyline in front of a graphic mountain range and the Avalanche logos on each side. As with most Daveart work, it’s packed with light flares and hidden logos, but the simple, graphic composition really helps with the legibility and keeping the overall design aesthetically pleasing.
Fleury’s mask isn’t dissimilar in that it’s structured composition holds together what’s an otherwise very detailed design. Artist Stephane Bergeron cleverly uses the Vegas logo down the center to section off the sides of the mask where he’s added a gilded secondary logo and detailed landscape with knight battle scene.
Like this match up on the ice, this mask battle is a close one, but the artistry in Fleury’s gives Vegas the slight edge to take the series in a full seven.
Result: Golden Knights in 7