(As is the case every time the NHL playoffs start up, it’s time to evaluate the matchups on a very deep, complex level: based purely on jersey aesthetics.)
This may not be the case for all hockey fans out there, but when I turn on the TV to watch a hockey game, my enjoyment of said game is affected by the uniforms being worn, the way they work together, and how they work with the crowd around them. I can barely watch the Panthers (sorry), for example, regardless of opponent.
A couple simple things matter:
* Contrast: Oilers/Flames is going to be better than Senators (white/red/black)/Hurricanes (white/red/black).
* Simplicity: Clean, two-coloured jersey matchups – say Red Wings/Leafs – is going to be better than busy, multi-colour jersey matchups – say Florida/Colorado or something. (Oof, the thought of that.)
We all have our personal preferences – for me, I find red-on-red matchups less pleasurable than cooler colours. So we might not agree entirely on the order of the list below, but that’s only because you probably have bad taste and I don’t.
Without any further ado, here are this year’s eight playoff match-ups, ranked by jersey aesthetics. Obviously it differs depending on which team is home or away, so take the rankings to mean a general take on any combination of the main uniforms:
Having Penguins/Blue Jackets as the worst jersey match-up does sort of contradict my own rules, I admit that. The contrast between the two sweaters is nice. But, there’s sharp contrast in every series this year, and let’s be real: the Penguins need to go back to their simplier, more-yellow, Lemieux-era jerseys, and the Blue Jackets do as little with a red/white/blue color scheme as possible.
There’s no real terrible match-ups this year. This one is just kinda blah.
The Minnesota whites and greens save this series from being dead last. At this point, the Avalanche jerseys might be the worst in the NHL. Burgundy and blue with apron strings? C’mon, man.
In all, there’s a huge contrast, and the Wild look great, so…one great jersey out of two keeps them ahead of Pittsburgh/Columbus.
The Ducks are certainly in the conversation for “worst jerseys in the NHL,” but like the match-up above, the team in green and white saves the day. I love the Dallas Stars rebrand this year, and as I’ve said before: I can barely remember them wearing anything but this current look. It’s like they were always meant to be wearing these sweaters.
More good contrast, but still, only one good sweater in the series.
5) Montreal/Tampa Bay
It’s going to bum some people out that this match-up isn’t higher, because everyone exalts the Canadiens sweaters at every turn and to say anything but nice things about them is blasphemous, but here we are: something about these two jerseys just doesn’t entirely do it for me. I think it’s the fact that the Lightning are trying so hard to be the Toronto Maple Leafs (only, while being good at hockey). I like their jersey’s just fine, they’re just not special in any particular way.
All in all, it’s a pretty clean looking match-up, so I approve. Fifh out of eight ain’t bad – there’s some great combos below.
4) St. Louis/Chicago
I think the Blackhawks might have the nicest jerseys in hockey. They’re at least in the conversation. And while the Blues badly need a rebrand of their own (again, apron strings, no thanks), their sweaters are pretty inoffensive, the contrast I like is there, and the Blackhawks will single-handedly drag any match-up to a pretty high ranking.
3) Philadelphia/New York Rangers
Maybe this series should be a spot higher because the two sweaters are such classics, but orange, man. To hell with all that orange. I’m also not a huge fan of the namebars on the Flyers sweaters.
Good contrast, classic jerseys, but not nearly as “cool” as the battle below.
2) San Jose/Los Angeles
The Sharks have taken a unique color and made it their own, and they’ve simplified their sweaters to the point where the color speaks for itself. And the Kings, I mean, look at those jerseys. They might be the sexiest in hockey. Not the most classic, but the sexiest. Combined with a colorful opponent they look even better.
This one is easy on the eyes.
(Update: Sharks announced they’re wearing their black thirds at home, because apparently they like making terrible decisions. They’re still nice, but the teal would’ve been better.)
Do you really need commentary on Bruins/Red Wings? You do not. It’s damn-near perfect.