Wishes for Adidas’ NHL Takeover

With Adidas being the parent company of Reebok, they’re set to assume production of all NHL jerseys for the 2017-18 season.  Last time this happened, when Reebok took over in the offseason of 2007, all NHL team jerseys were redesigned to fit the new Edge template.  With this change being forced upon each team, some took the opportunity to rebrand or refresh their looks.  Some overhauled completely (Dallas, Vancouver, and Washington for example).  Others made minor tweaks to their jerseys.  Some made basically none.

Some teams made mistakes.  A few of them, unfortunately, still live to this day.  I’ve taken it upon myself to present a few concept logo blocks with my vision for team primary logos and colors going forward.  If these changes don’t happen, I will be disappointed, but I won’t give up hope — I’ll continue adding to this collection when inspiration strikes, provided that my ideas don’t magically come to life before then.

First up, my Buffalo Sabres:

Buffalo SabresBuffalo Sabres (Away)

Ditch the silver lines, return to a real, vibrant blue, and voilà!  That’s all they need.  This look is clear, identifiable, and timeless.  If they’re going to hoist the Cup at some point, I desperately hope it’s in these.  With the Sabres scheduled to play as the home team at the 2018 Winter Classic, we may see this jersey appear as soon as then — hopefully they do the right thing and elevate it to primary duty afterward.  If not, the likely worst case scenario is it would become a full-time third in 2018-19.  If that happens, they will have earned my money.

Calgary Flames (Third)Calgary Flames (Fourth)

Fixing the Calgary Flames would be simple: return to the 1980s.  Get rid of the black.  Promote the existing third to primary and add a road counterpart.  You won the Cup in these jerseys; why wouldn’t you want to promote them?  ’nuff said.

Carolina Hurricanes (Third)Carolina Hurricanes (Fourth)

The Carolina Hurricanes need a uniform update, badly.  Their 2013 redesign was horrendous, but thankfully they kept their unique third in reserve.  I wouldn’t mind seeing them upgraded to full-time duty.  The flag logo is far better than the swirl, even though they did win the Cup in the latter, but there’s also the fact that I’m not a fan of black primaries.  What about red?  I think that looks damn hot, even if it is a (tropical) storm warning flag.

Colorado Avalanche (Third)Colorado Avalanche (Fourth)

The Colorado Avalanche have been using the 2007 Reebok transition look for a decade; they’re the last to maintain use of the “apron string” look.  It needs a change more than any other team.  Their current thirds are decent, but I’m not sold on them being a primary.  They’re just a bit too experimental, plus burgundy has always been the Avs’ color.  How about these?

Columbus Blue JacketsColumbus Blue Jackets (Away)

The Columbus Blue Jackets‘ third is a great, great look.  I love the jersey, the color scheme, and the logo.  It’s more distinct, compared to the Jacket’s current palette which features zero unique colors.  The only problem is that vintage white cannot be used as an away jersey base, so to solve I’ve made it white across the board.  Looking sharp!

Minnesota WildMinnesota Wild (Away)

The Minnesota Wild are rumored to be going forward with a green jersey, similar to their Stadium Series jersey from last season.  I’m for it.  I think they should keep their away white jerseys and use them template for the homes.  Easy.  I bet this is exactly what we see come Draft Day, more-or-less.

Ottawa Senators (Third)Ottawa Senators (Fourth)

The Ottawa Senators are in dire need of a new look, having used the same original Reebok template since 2007.  Luckily, they’ve already created a complete set that would do nicely.  The “O” logo ties the franchise back to its predecessor in Ottawa, while ditching the tired look of the three-quarter-profile cartoon centurion.  Same as with Columbus, the vintage white is normalized to pure white.  There was a rumor swirling earlier this year that something like this was in the works for the future.  It’s been quiet on that front recently, but I’d still imagine this has a very good chance of happening.

Alternatively, they’ve been sitting on this cleaner version of their original profiled Senator logo for awhile.  It’s not on their jerseys anywhere, for some reason.  If the classic look isn’t to be, why not revamp the jerseys with this badass logo on front?  Hell, I’d be okay with a return to the black primary if this is what it looks like.

San Jose SharksSan Jose Sharks (Away)San Jose Sharks2San Jose Sharks (Away2)

This is more of a thought than a hope.  The San Jose Sharks used the Reebok takeover to refresh their Shark-biting-stick logo in 2007; modernizing while maintaining the overall look.  It’s been a decade since then, and the franchise has matured to a point of ubiquity and success in the Bay Area.  It’s time to grow the logo to match.  We know it’s a hockey team, so there’s no need for a stick in the logo.  This past season the Sharks released a beautiful set of “future” secondary logos for marketing purposes, which went more-or-less unused: see the clean full-bodied shark above.  There’s also a variant with a more triangular shape and a subtle SJ at the vertex.  Either one I think would be a great primary look.

Washington CapitalsWashington Capitals (Away)

Last but not least, look at this.  The Washington Capitals have used this stunning secondary logo since their transformation in 2007.  How is it not the primary?  I get that the wordmark is an update of their original logo, but come on.  This would be an incredible primary logo.  It’s simple, easily reproduceable and identifiable, and it’s freaking brilliant.  It forms a “W.” It’s got the Capitol in negative space.  The angle in the neck invokes the Washington Monument.  It’s wonderful.  After their latest playoff failure, it might just be a decent time to re-brand.  Make this the primary now.

I have a few more wants that I’m not sure how (read: am not skilled enough) to express visually:

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings would do well to add purple back to their look.  I’m not sure if that requires a whole new logo or not — I’d lean toward the latter, given all of their success with their current setup.  Perhaps just a trim on the jersey?  The league needs more purple; ie any purple.

Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have a great set of uniforms, and it hurts to suggest changes because of their mixed history.  I like the orca logo, but the “Vancouver” wordmark needs to go.   Alternatively, promote the third to full time and go full 1970s.  Either way, that’s all I want, so there’s nothing really new to illustrate here.  The design of the jerseys and their colors are perfect already.

In conclusion, I’m surprised by how content I am with the look of the NHL these days.   Only a handful of teams need a redo on the logo, jersey, and/or colors.  For the rest, a few uniform tweaks here and there would be nice, but overall I think these aforementioned changes would be enough to make the league the best it could possibly look.  Now, if only we could make color versus color jerseys for games the norm, only then would we have perfection.


Stanley Cup 2016, I: Oh, Canada!


What happened?  The once proud and mighty hockey nation is sending zero local teams to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1970 and only the second time ever.  Back then, there were two Canadian teams (Montréal and Toronto) among twelve, good for 16.67% of the makeup of the league.  Now, there are seven in a league of thirty; the composition has improved to a solid 23.3%, yet here we are.  Does it mean anything?  Nope.  In a league of parity like the NHL, this was a statistical likelihood to happen at some point.  And of course there will be many many Canadians playing for the Cup, just entirely for American-based teams — the Cup will return to Canada this year, as it does every year.  However, we go another long year without a Canadian city getting its name engraved upon it.  Better luck next year.

Speaking of better luck next year, how about we revisit my predictions from October?  If you insist…

In the West:

Pacific:  Anaheim ✔️, San Jose ✔️, Calgary ✖️
Central:  Chicago ✔️, St. Louis ✔️, Nashville ✔️
Wild Cards:  Dallas ✔️, Vancouver ✖️

In the East:

Atlantic:  Tampa Bay ✔️, Montréal ✖️, Detroit ✔️
Metropolitan:  Pittsburgh ✔️, New York Islanders ✔️, Washington ✔️
Wild Cards:  New York Rangers ✔️, Florida (!) ✔️

Notables off the board:  Minnesota ✖️, Los Angeles ✖️, Ottawa ✔️

Draft lottery top five, no tanks allowed:  New Jersey ✖️, Arizona ✖️, Colorado ✖️, Carolina ✖️, Toronto ✔️

The loss of Canada was clearly unanticipated, as was the resurgence of the Kings (should have seen it coming), but other than that, pretty good.  While the seeding is a bit wonky, the teams are there, including the Panthers!  What luck!  Given how the season went, I’m a bit surprised my pick of an absent Boston was correct, though I made it for a reason and they followed through for me.  Thanks Boston!

Now that lottery group, they’re clearly swinging in Canada’s direction too.  Obviously the Leafs are bad, but who would have anticipated Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg joining them there after playoff years?  Coincidentally, the others on my list would remain clumped together, though just outside the wildcards, not in the basement.

That brings us to the playoffs.  As usual, I had a hell of a time picking my bracket.  The strange thing is, I seem to be on the same page as many “experts” and podcasters, which worries me.  None of them are ever really on the mark, and I’ve got a streak to continue.  Each year I’ve done this, I’ve picked at least one of the finalists, including the winner in 2013.  I really hope I come close this year, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

After all, my reasoning down below is based on little more than a few games I watched, a bunch of numbers, and a gut feeling based on what I’ve heard all season.  Good enough, eh?


Yeah, I picked the Caps to win it all.  I’m really going to hate it when they lose to the Rangers in the second round…

Advanced stats herein (5v5 Score-Adjusted Corsi [Shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots, a decent measure of possession] & PDO [save percentage + shooting percentage, a decent measure of luck]) are measured from the trade deadline, February 29th, 2016, until the end of the regular season.  This is done in order to portray a more representative sample as teams trend toward their playoff forms.  All numbers are taken from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com, and War-On-Ice.

Florida Panthers New York Islanders

A1. Florida Panthers vs M4. New York Islanders: Someone is going to leave this series very, very happy.  The Islanders are making the show for the third time in four years, while the Cats return for the first since 2012, and only the fifth time in their history.  What makes this extra special is the fact that these teams hold the two longest active series win droughts: The Islanders last won in 1993; the Panthers in 1996.  Like I said, someone will be happy.  And to be honest, I don’t think it’s going to be that close.  The Panthers won their division (as they did in ’12), but this time they didn’t crawl into the top spot with loser points; they’re for real.  Remember when they put up a 12 game win streak? Led by the ageless Jaromir Jagr and some kids who have taken a leap forward, I can see them running all over the battered New York Islanders, who are without their starting goaltender and numerous key players.  Panthers in six.  The Cats got a taste in 2012; this time they’ll know how to break through.  Sorry Islanders, luck isn’t with you this year.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
FLA:  103 / 47-[40]-26-6-3 / +34 --- (12-7-1)
NYI:  100 / 45-[40]-27-5-5 / +16 --- (12-7-3)

PP% / PK%
16.9%, 23rd / 79.5%, 24th
18.3%, 17th / 84.5%, 4th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
FLA:  52.5%, T7th
NYI:  46.7%, T25th

FLA:  100.7, T8th
NYI:  100.8, 7th

Notable injuries
FLA:  Willie Mitchell, Vincent Trocheck, Erik Gudbrandson
NYI:  Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, Travis Hamonic, Anders Lee

Season Series
2015-11-27; NYI 2, FLA 3 S/O
2015-12-15; NYI 1, FLA 5
2016-03-14; FLA 2, NYI 3
FLA: 2-1-0 — NYI: 1-1-1

Tampa Bay Lightning Detroit Red Wings

A2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs A3. Detroit Red Wings:  Would you look at that, a rematch from last year.  These divisional playoffs seem to be working so far!  It’s the Steve Yzerman Cup, Part 2.  The Lightning went on to the Cup Final last year, vanquishing the Red Wings, along with two other Original Six teams to get there.  Strange thing is, neither of these teams are really the same as last year.  The Lightning are without Stamkos for months, the Triplets have been significantly less impactful, and they weren’t even the best team in their state.  The Red Wings meanwhile continue their playoff streak, but also their roll in mediocrity since the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom in 2012.  Without Mike Babcock, I don’t see this team as achieving anything but a first-round exit.  These aren’t close to the Red Wings of the last decade.  Geez, I might as well flip a coin for this one.  No wait, I did that last year.  Looking at the stats below and with major absences in mind (and boy Tampa, good luck), I’m gonna have to go with the Red Wings in six.  But really, I have no solid leanings either way.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
TBL:  97 / 46-[43]-31-2-3 / +26 --- (10-9-1)
DET:  93 / 41-[39]-30-6-5 / -10 --- (10-10-0)

PP% / PK%
15.8%, T27th / 84.0%, 7th
18.8%, 13th / 81.5%, 14th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
TBL:  52.5%, T7th
DET:  52.4%, T9th

TBL:  100.5, T11th
DET:  97.9, 29th

Notable injuries
TBL:  Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson
DET:  Mike Babcock

Season Series
2015-10-13; TBL 1, DET 3
2015-11-03; TBL 1, DET 2
2016-02-03; DET 1, TBL 3
2015-03-22; DET 2, TBL 6
TBL: 2-2-0 — DET: 2-2-0

Washington Capitals Philadelphia Flyers

M1. Washington Capitals vs M5. Philadelphia Flyers:  The Flyers incredible run to the postseason saw them leapfrog no fewer than three teams on their ascent.  They are rewarded with a date with the Washington Capitals, the most dominant team the NHL has seen since, well, the 2010 Washington Capitals.  The last time these teams met was 2008, where the sixth-seeded Flyers “upset” the division champion Capitals, who were making their first playoff appearance in the Ovechkin-era.  Now, the Capitals are a tough pick, even with their incredible season, because of the ever-looming specter of past playoff disappointments.  Last time they won the Presidents’ Trophy, they were out in seven.  Last year (as well as many others), they blew a 3-1 series lead.  But, I have a feeling this year might be different.  For one, they have Justin Williams.  What happens when a team who can’t win a game seven ices a guy who can’t lose one?  I don’t know.  Maybe we’ll find out sooner rather than later, but I think the Capitals will take this series in five.  If I’m wrong, well, I hope the Penguins win so we can get a Philadelphia/Pittsburgh series.  Those are always fun.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
WSH:  120 / 56-[52]-18-6-2 / +57 --- (11-6-4)
PHI:   96 / 41-[38]-27-6-8 / +1 --- (13-5-3)

PP% / PK%
21.9%, 5th / 85.2%, 2nd
18.9%, T11th / 80.5%, T20th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
WSH:  53.0%, 6th
PHI:  52.4%, T9th

WSH:  98.8, T23rd
PHI:  100.3, 14th

Notable injuries
WSH:  none
PHI:  Michael del Zotto

Season Series
2015-11-12; WSH 5, PHI 2
2016-01-27; PHI 4, WSH 3 OT
2016-02-07; PHI 2, WSH 3
2016-03-30; WSH 1, PHI 2 S/O
WSH: 2-0-2 — PHI: 2-2-0

Pittsburgh Penguins New York Rangers

M2. Pittsburgh Penguins vs M3. New York Rangers:  The Rangers won on the last day of the season, putting themselves in a divisional seed.  Their reward?  The arguably hottest team in the NHL in the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Since switching their coach, Pittsburgh has reversed what looked like a lost season to catapult themselves firmly in the second seed.  If not for Washington’s massive early lead in points, we might have had a battle for supremacy here.  Instead, I think it’s going to happen in the second round.  The Rangers window is closing rapidly and I don’t think team has the stuff to continue their recent playoff success.  Not against the buzz saw of the resurgent Penguins.  Penguins in five.  The only thing that may make it close is the extent of the injuries to Pittsburgh.  What keeps it one-sided is the equally damaging injuries to the Rangers.  Whoever wins this series is probably toast next round.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
PIT:  104 / 48-[44]-26-4-4 / +42 --- (17-5-0)
NYR:  101 / 46-[43]-27-7-2 / +18 --- (10-7-3)

PP% / PK%
18.4%, 16th / 84.4%, 5th
18.6%, 14th / 78.2%, 26th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
PIT:  56.4%, 2nd
NYR:  46.9%, 22nd

PIT:  103.5, 1st
NYR:  101.7, 4th

Notable injuries
PIT:  Evgeni Malkin, Olli Maatta, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray
NYR:  Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Mats Zuccarello, Viktor Stalberg, Eric Staal

Season Series
2016-02-10; NYR 3, PIT 0
2016-03-03; NYR 1, PIT 4
2016-03-13; PIT 5, NYR 3
2016-03-27; PIT 3, NYR 2 OT
PIT: 3-1-0 — NYR: 1-2-1

Dallas Stars Minnesota Wild

C1. Dallas Stars vs C5. Minnesota Wild:  A series fifteen years in the making, the Minnesota Wild will play against their predecessor franchise, the former Minnesota North Stars.  Green on green on green.  Dallas is a curious team.  It’s got firepower up front and an underrated blue line defending an unusual 1A/1B goalie system.  They led the Central division for most of the season before barely winning it in the end.  Minnesota, meanwhile, floundered enough to get their coach fired, rallied around a new system, but again, basically fell into a playoff spot because of the incompetence of the Colorado Avalanche.  Their 87 points is the lowest amount for a playoff team since 2003.  The Wild have been to the playoffs four years in a row now, yet they have been unable to really break through (series wins against Colorado and St. Louis included).  They’re possibly the worst team to make the playoffs in the salary cap era, and thus I think they get clobbered by a Dallas team that came close enough to a first-round victory in 2014 to make the jump.  Stars in four.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
DAL:  109 / 50-[48]-23-7-2 / +37 --- (12-4-3)
MIN:   87 / 38-[35]-33-9-2 / +9 --- (10-8-1)

PP% / PK%
22.1%, 4th / 82.3%, 10th
18.5%, 15th / 77.9%, 27th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
DAL:  49.5%, 15th
MIN:  46.8%, 24th

DAL:  101.3, 5th
MIN:  100.5, T11th

Notable injuries
DAL:  Tyler Seguin
  Thomas Vanek, Zach Parise

Season Series
2015-11-14; MIN 2, DAL 3 OT
2015-11-28; DAL 4, MIN 3 OT
2015-12-21; DAL 6, MIN 3
2016-01-09; MIN 2, DAL 1
2016-02-09; DAL 4, MIN 3 OT
DAL: 4-1-0 — MIN: 1-1-3

St. Louis Blues Chicago Blackhawks

C2. St. Louis Blues vs C3. Chicago Blackhawks:  Well, well, well.  Look what we have here.  It’s been two years since the last time these two met in the playoffs, and will be only the second time since The Lockout, but it doesn’t feel that way, does it?  As always, I expected the Interstate 55 series to be a bloodbath, a rough grind, a display of dazzling skill on both sides.  The Blues had shown glimpses of greatness during the last stretch of the season, including a stunning four game shutout streak.  The Hawks, however, more or less backed into the playoffs, winning just five of their last ten.  Based on what I see on paper, I expect a relatively easy victory for the Blues.  Following my gut, this isn’t really a contest: Blackhawks in six.  St. Louis is consistently a disappointing playoff team and I haven’t been inspired enough to think otherwise.  Unless the core summits Mt. Chicago this year, I fear their troubles will continue until change comes.  The Hawks just know how to win in the postseason and I have no reason to doubt them again.  (This isn’t quite a reverse jinx, but you must know I want St. Louis to win.  Enough of you, Chicago)

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
STL:  107 / 49-[44]-24-5-4 / +22 --- (13-4-0)
CHI:  103 / 47-[46]-27-7-2 / +27 --- (8-6-4)

PP% / PK%
21.5%, 6th / 85.1%, 3rd
22.6%, 2nd / 80.3%, 22nd

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
STL:  55.7%, 3rd
CHI:  50.9%, 12th

STL:  102.6, T2nd
CHI:  100.7, T8th

Notable injuries
STL:  Steve Ott, David Backes, Jake Allen
CHI:  Duncan Keith (suspended for Game 1), Marian Hossa, Andrew Shaw

Season Series
2015-11-04; STL 6, CHI 5 OT
2015-11-14; CHI 4, STL 2
2016-01-24; STL 0, CHI 2
2016-03-09; CHI 2, STL 3 S/O
2016-04-07; STL 2, CHI 1 OT
STL: 3-2-0 — CHI: 2-0-3

Anaheim Ducks Nashville Predators

P1. Anaheim Ducks vs C4. Nashville Predators:  What a story for the Anaheim Ducks.  Once upon a time, they were in last place in the Western Conference.  Bruce Boudreau was on the hot seat.  The coach who had only ever won division championships in his full seasons in the NHL.  Well, he’s got another one, albeit one that was both widely predicted and a stunning surprise.  They lucked out avoiding the California civil war of the 2/3 matchup… or did they?  The Nashville Predators are sneaky good, though they struggled to stay above water in the division of death at times.  They are an easy sleeper pick to upset the Ducks, however I’ve learned my lesson enough times to not follow my rebellious side.  Ducks in seven.  The last time these two met, the Predators won their first series ever.  The Ducks are coming off a Western Conference Final appearance.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see them there again.

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
ANA:  103 / 46-[43]-25-7-4 / +27 --- (12-6-3)
NSH:   96 / 41-[37]-27-12-2 / +11 --- (10-5-3)

PP% / PK%
23.1%, 1st / 87.2%, 1st
19.7%, 10th / 81.2%, 16th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
ANA:  50.7%, 13th
NSH:  52.2%, 11th

ANA:  102.6, T2nd
NSH:  99.9, 16th

Notable injuries
ANA:  David Perron, Kevin Bieksa, Brandon Pirri

Season Series
2015-10-22; ANA 1, NSH 5
2015-11-01; NSH 2, ANA 4
2015-11-17; ANA 2, NSH 3
ANA: 1-2-0 — NSH: 2-1-0

Los Angeles Kings San Jose Sharks

P2. Los Angeles Kings vs P3. San Jose Sharks:  Oh no.  Ohhhhh no.  It’s happening.  How did we get here again?  After a year off of the playoffs for both of these teams, the brutal, recently one-sided rivalry returns.  I can’t watch.  The Kings have still been “the Kings”, an incredible possession team, yet they nearly won the division, an uncharacteristic look as a perennial dangerous low seed.  Most of the key players from the first two Cups are still around, though that blue line looks a little thin these days and you don’t really know which Jonathan Quick you might get here.  The Sharks look good, sporting the best road record in team history (a benefit when starting the series on the road).  Joe Thornton alone has had a brilliant year, to say nothing of the supporting cast.  For once, the Sharks have a goaltending tandem that should be able to stop a puck (looking at you, 2014 Antti Niemi), plus a few clutch players like Joel Ward.  I really don’t know.  My gut is telling me not to pick the Sharks (don’t sleep on the Kings), but they’re not the Sharks of 2014.  They’ve got a new captain, along with an old captain who seems to enjoy nothing more than getting assists and growing a great big bushy beard!  I would love for Martin Jones (an upgrade in net) to defeat his old team; it would be incredible.  It will probably be the best series of the first round, and I just might have to hide until it’s over.  Sharks in seven.  They were *this* close last time — without Justin Williams, the Kings won’t get that game seven boost.  Fingers crossed!

Record (P / W-[ROW]-L-OTL-SOL / GD) — Since 2/29 (W-L-OTL)
LAK:  102 / 48-[46]-28-3-3 / +31 --- (11-7-2)
SJS:   98 / 46-[42]-30-3-3 / +30 --- (13-8-0)

PP% / PK%
20.0%, 8th / 81.4%, 15th
22.5%, 3rd / 80.5%, T20th

5v5 Corsi, Score-Adjusted
LAK:  57.4%, 1st
SJS:  54.8%, 4th

LAK:  100.1, 15th
SJS:  100.6, 10th

Notable injuries
LAK:  Marian Gaborik, Alec Martinez, Matt Greene
SJS:  Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Nieto

Season Series
2015-10-07; SJS 5, LAK 1
2015-10-22; LAK 4, SJS 1
2015-12-22; SJS 5, LAK 3
2016-01-24; LAK 3, SJS 2 OT
2016-03-28; LAK 2, SJS 5
LAK: 2-3-0 — SJS: 3-1-1

There’s not a lot of variety here, to be honest.  The same key teams have either returned for another shot, or they’re back after an uncharacteristic dip.  Only the Panthers are truly a new team here, and it would be nice to see teams like Buffalo, or Carolina, or Edmonton, or Columbus show up here with more regularity.  However, this should be a fun year, so long as either Chicago or Los Angeles doesn’t win the Cup again — though he same teams mean the rivalries continue to burn hot.  For now, I leave you with a new section for your enjoyment:

Fun Facts & Frivolity Field
Cup Virgins:  6 — FLA, MIN, NSH, SJS, STL, WSH
Cup Champions since 2006:  5 — ANA (’07), DET (’08), CHI (’10, ’13, ’15), LAK (’12, ’14), PIT (’09)
Longest Cup drought:  STL — 47 seasons
Returning teams:  11 — ANA, CHI, DET, MIN, NSH, NYI, NYR, PIT, STL, TBL, WSH
Fresh blood:  5 — DAL, FLA, LAK, PHI, SJS


And of course, my bracket.  A lot has changed, but almost all of the changes are under the hood.  I redid the logo blocks subtly, though those were already on display last month.  I think they’re looking better than ever.

Los Angeles Kings: 2014 Stanley Cup Champions

 I  II  III  IV  V 

Say it with me one last time.

Don’t. Sleep. On. The. Kings.

It’s hard to argue that the Los Angeles Kings aren’t the best team in the NHL.  Every year in this nearly-half-complete decade they’ve made the playoffs, sneaking in at a low seed.  And in two of the last three years, they’ve made the entire league pay for their underestimation.  I don’t know what it is, but these guys find a different gear in the playoffs.  In 2012 it started in the beginning, with the quick dispatch of the Canucks, Blues, and Coyotes in 5 or less.  Before dropping their first two losses in a row to New Jersey, they were 15-2.  Unreal.

2014 was different.  They were at the mercy of the Sharks, who tore them apart and made them look like rubbish through three games.  Then the switch flipped.  It couldn’t have been more obvious.  They were on.  Yet this year, they slowly found themselves fading slowly as series went on.  They needed seven to beat the Sharks, winning four straight after being three down for the fourth time ever in league history.  Then they coughed up a two-to-none lead against Anaheim, only to claw back in seven.  Then, against the mighty champion Chicago Blackhawks, they waited four periods into the series before gelling into an unstoppable machine to blast their way up three-to-one after four games.  While the Blackhawks sure made it interesting before the end, it was of course the dominant Los Angeles Kings to eliminate the defending champions.  This year, it took 21 games to get to the final.  That’s a far cry from 14 two seasons past.  Yet the result was the same in the end and that’s all that matters.

The first two games against the Rangers went to overtime and were won by Los Angeles (just like 2012!).  The first two games were won by a team who never held a lead for any amount of time (just like 2013!).  After three, this was poised to be a sweep, the first since there were four straight in the mid-90s (just like 2012!).  I could go on, but you’ve no doubt heard these things elsewhere, beaten into the dirt by media grasping for a narrative.  Don’t get me started on Game 5 and the full moon/Friday the 13th nonsense.

As for the hockey?  While the Kings are a damn fun team to watch (mark those words, because one day I’ll hate Los Angeles with a passion), this wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.  Hell, aside from the outstanding overtime in five (and HOLY CRAP WAS IT JUST THE BEST THING EVER), the rest of the series didn’t even come close to this year’s Western Conference Finals, which featured two such games.  I picked the Rangers because I’m an idiot I wanted to be the only one to pick the juggernaut to fall.  Welp.  Way to be.  At least I was right about the Cup being won in the same state as I was again… where will I be next June?

About the Rangers, well, I’m not really completely sure why I picked them to get to the Cup.  I though it would be closer.  I was wrong, but they sure didn’t sit back against these dynastic Kings, as the three overtime games show.  Stick-tap to my downstate rivals for a great run.

nhl_bracket_2014_r5My final rank for 2014: 67,538, in the 86th percentile.  That’s higher than last year!  And here I thought I’d blown it.  I’m so stupid!  I’ve already got something planned for next year that will make things way more fun (or depressing… who knows).  I’m looking forward to it so much.

Once again, my completed 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs bracket.

Playoffs 2014The only real difference here from previous iterations is the vertical spacing of the logos in the middle rounds.  Previously they were off-center from the rounds before and it bothered me slightly.  Now it’s fixed!  And that’s all I’ve done.  Back into the vault you go once again.

Get ready for another craaazy off-season!

(Probably not, but I can hope.  In Murray we trust.  I’m looking forward to another NY/CA final, this time with two teams from upstate.)