The 2021 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Round 3

By Ally Koss
In Ally Koss
Jun 13th, 2021
1 Comment

We’re down to the final four, in a year that’s so far been rough (to say the least) for each round’s higher seeds. After Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto and Edmonton all took early exists in the first round, we now also say goodbye to the Cup contender Bruins and Avalanche, plus the Jets and Hurricanes (sorry, Carolina and Winnipeg fans).

• More: The 2021 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Round 1
• More: The 2021 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Round 2

With our final two series (and the first time we’ve ever seen a “Stanley Cup Semifinals” logo, as pointed out by Chris Creamer) underway, it’s time to break down the mask match ups in each of our remaining series. Once again, we’ll be looking at artistry, branding, legibility and overall aesthetic value to determine a winner in each series, and who will advance to the Bucket Bracket Showdown final.

Without further adieu, let’s jump in!

Eastern Conference”

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders

Andrei Vasilevskiy (Sylvie Marsolais, Sylabrush) vs. Semyon Varlamov (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)

The fourth seeded Islanders have been buzzing through the playoffs, first eliminating the Penguins and Bruins, and then taking game one over the defending champs in Tampa Bay. That said, Andrei Vasilevskiy and his Sylabrush bucket are no strangers to Bucket Bracket Showdown action, so let’s get into it.

• More: HbD Interviews: Sylvie Marsolais

Vasilevskiy’s mask, like it’s wearer, is one of the most solid and consistent among the final four standing. Painted by Quebec-based artist Sylvie Marsolais, it’s monochromatic design brings visual interest in the form of intricate detail and a mixture of styles. The realistic lion on top shows off Marsolais’ skill in soft shading and realism, plus creating contrast with the bold and crisp line work of the lightning bolts and typography, the whole piece is really beautifully executed.

The Tampa Bay brand is adequately represented and balanced well with Vasilevskiy’s personality, including personal touches like the lion (a nod to his nickname of “Big Cat”), and the Russian coat of arms.

Across the ice, when we compare the powerhouse of Vasilevskiy’s mask to Varlamov’s Daveart bucket, it unfortunately just doesn’t hold up. While the color palette and design elements certainly tie back to the Islanders brand, we have a few different styles going on in this mask as well, but none of them feel like they fit with the Islanders’ visual identity. The right side of the mask includes varsity-style script, opposite a sketchily drawn Brooklyn Bridge on the right, which gives off a disjointed and craftier feel.

We certainly know Gunnarson’s no shlub when it comes to artistic talents, so I would’ve loved to see something more graphic that captures the feel of the Isles’ logo and typography, but alas, the illustration on Varlamov’s mask steals a game, but Tampa takes the series easily in five games.

Result: Lightning in 5

“Western Conference”

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Montreal Canadiens

Marc-Andre Fleury (Stephane Bergeron, Griff Airbrush) vs. Carey Price (Dave Gunnarsson, Daveart)

In our second semifinals match up, we have Marc-Andre Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights taking on the unlikely Cinderella story Canadiens, who after barely even making the playoffs knocked off Toronto and Winnipeg with relative ease. Like in the “Eastern Conference” battle, here we have two goaltenders with wildly different styles – one, the picture of consistency season after season, and the other who’s been mixing it up with different masks all year. Let’s start with Flower.

Painted by Stephane Bergeron of Griff Airbrush, Fleury’s mask is interesting in that it combines two completely different styles that honestly don’t mesh particularly well. Unlike Vasilevskiy’s mask that also blends together different techniques and styles, this mask lacks a singular consistent element (like the color palette in Vasilevskiy’s) to tie everything together.

• More: HbD Breakdown: Vegas Golden Knights Logo and Alternate

What I do love about this design is how creatively Bergeron placed the Vegas logo in the center, creating a graphic color blocking effect that segments the different designs on each side. That said, the heavily gilded right side featuring just the Vegas secondary logo (which has it’s own problems, to no fault of Bergeron’s), and the cluttered landscape battle scene really just feel disjointed.

Fleury’s opponent in this round has worn a few different masks this season, a very intricate mechanical design from J Bo Airbrush, and this Daveart creation that Price has worn throughout the playoffs – a surprisingly simple one from the artist.

• More: HbD Interviews: Dave Gunnarsson

Using just the Canadiens brand (which is a great one, don’t get me wrong) as inspiration, the mask uses Habs logos in various positions to create a graphic look, all in matte paint. The larger logos on each side have some beveling effects for visual interest and dimension, while the center logo remains flat in appearance. It’s clean, crispy and legible, but especially compared to the mask we saw Price wear earlier this season, honestly a tad boring.

This match up is tough, because we have two completely different approaches and styles, both with their own merits and flaws. Ultimately it’ll take seven games to decide, but the legibility and cleanliness in Price’s mask gets Montreal the series win.

Result: Canadiens in 7

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

One Response to “The 2021 Bucket Bracket Showdown: Round 3”

  1. […] • Who has the best looking goalie mask in the Stanley Cup Semifinals? [Hockey by Design] […]

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