Road to the Best-Dressed Cup Final – Round One, Part One: Traditional Stripes Unlike Any Others

The Stanley Cup Playoffs started in earnest last night with a trio of three fantastic games. Yesterday, we gave you a viewing guide to know what series to watch from a pure looks standpoint, and our top picks did not disappoint. Today, we’ll dive into the nuts and bolts and make some analysis and predictions of the series, but again, from a design and aesthetics standpoint. While we did miss the three series that started yesterday, those will be addressed as they restart tomorrow and the final series of the Conference Quarterfinals gets started as well. (Florida screwing up the format, but they’re helping us this time).

Tonight, the last two Stanley Cup Champions go into action along with the perennial disappointments in each conference and two upstarts in the West. While I may not agree with the picks from a statistical or “X’s and O’s” standpoint, here are the picks to get started on building the best-dressed Stanley Cup Final possible.

Eastern Conference:

No. 1 New York Rangers vs No. 8 Ottawa Senators – This is one of the easiest match-ups to pick. Except for a two-year period in the late ’70s (only once and never again), the Rangers have had a constant and classic identity their inception in 1926. Straight blue body, white/red/white striping on the arms and hem, red-scripted and white-shadowed block numbers and “RANGERS” diagonally down the chest. One of the most classic looks in hockey. On the other side, the Senators. Ottawa occasionally masquerades as their classic predecessor by the same name, but they are not that team. Their current templated jerseys and over-designed logo do not resemble or invoke the same thoughts that their borrowed alternate does. The Sens inaugural set was miles better than this. Aesthetically, this is a clean sweep. No contest. – Rangers in 4

No. 2 Boston Bruins vs No. 7 Washington Capitals – While their exact classic looks aren’t completely intact, the Bruins and Capitals both borrow their own traditional elements. Both teams made improvements to their classic logos with some slight modernization. While the Bruins have made more changes over time than their Original Six brother Rangers, Boston’s general identity has stayed the same. Bold black and gold with the traditional striping and spoked-B on the chest. While I wish the jersey had more gold and the socks a little less, it all pops and is hard to beat in terms of classic hockey sweaters. And Washington doesn’t beat it. While I do like the “Capitals” script (in all lowercase letters, which makes sense), the Caps should have tried to stay closer to their original look, which is captured in their often-worn alternate. While not a complete copy (too much red and the numerous stars are obnoxious), something close would be nice. Instead we get piping and odd, slash arm-stiping. – Bruins in 5

Western Conference:

No. 2 St. Louis Blues vs No. 7 San Jose Sharks – Two teams that went in opposite directions after the Edge switch. St. Louis had a classic look with their perfect blue-note logo and balance between the bright blue body, navy blue yoke and pants, and yellow accents. The Edge system came in and chopped up the yoke with Reebok’s vector box and apron piping which continues to the pants. While the alternate is fantastic, its not something the Blues should move to primary status like they did with their previous near-perfect jersey. San Jose had a design pre-Edge that introduced us to funny looking patches of color and mesh that were meant to imitate shark fins. It was an extremely modern that worked for the heart of Silicon Valley. It easily could have transferred into the future, but it was eschewed for a traditional stripe/yoke template (along with those awful front numbers). It is a beautiful jersey, but not as unique as it’s predecessor. It’s only uniqueness comes from the signature teal. Unfortunately, the Sharks players have chosen to wear their all-black alternates minimizing the teal. While a downgrade, it’s enough for San Jose. – Sharks in 6

No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes  vs No. 6 Chicago Blackhawks – Phoenix long ago dumped its extremely unique and flat out awesome Kachina-inspired uniforms they adopted upon moving from Winnipeg in 1996, and it’s a real shame. While the Coyotes have some nice jerseys with a fantastic logo, they just aren’t anything fantastic. The all-maroon home is kind of dull. All of my picks have sided with classic and traditional striping, and the Coyotes have that. Unfortunately for Phoenix, they are pitted against the best jerseys in all of sports. An Original Six team, the Blackhawks adopted this same basic look in 1955 and haven’t had any good reason the change it. While there have been some calls for a politically correct logo change, the stoic Indian head has stayed on its background of searing red accented by a damn near perfect white/black/white stripe scheme. The only knock on Chicago is that the road counterpart is slightly dull and could use a little more red. Doesn’t matter one little bit when you can come home to that beauty. – Blackhawks in 5