I wasn't satisfied with the look of my first version for the Calgary Flames. I think they deserve a more classic look than what I did. This time around, I didn't change their iconic logo since it's still a great branding. However, I deleted black completely from their color scheme. By doing that, the look is more straightforward. The home and away jerseys are based on their first historic jerseys of the 80s. I added some outlines to the logo and bars to give it a more modern twist. The font I used is the same as the font the Flames introduced for their 3rd jersey in the 2013-2014 season as is the shoulder logo.
For the 3rd jersey, I went in the same direction as the Flames did in the 2011 Winters Classic but with some minor changes. This jersey is based on the Calgary Tigers one, the first professional team to compete for the Stanley Cup in the 1920s.
I was wrong all along in the last round so you can definitely stop reading my Stanley Cup finals predictions right away! My rating in these 2014 playoffs is now at 57,14% (8 out of 14). I won't beat my 2013 rating of 80%, that's for sure.
Gary Bettman is probably the happiest man on the planet right now. He has a finals with the two biggest cities in his league. Now, will we have a show or will it be a blend matchup? I believe that the Kings will win this thing, but to do so they'll have to do it quick. They played 7 game series since the beginning of their journey and the health of their top guys will suffer in a matter of time. The Rangers didn't have it easy either so I might be completely wrong by believing it could be an issue for L.A. in the long run.
From top to bottom, I think that the Kings have a better team. Sure, Henrik Lundqvist might steal a game or two, but I can't see the Kings losing four games to New York. The Kings will beat the king.
Los Angeles vs New York
We're down to four teams in the NHL playoffs. In the last round, I predicted correctly the matchups in the west but got completely wrong in the east. I now sit at a 66,67% rate (8 out of 12 rounds).
Both matchups are very hard to predict, which is normal at this stage of the playoffs. In the east, both teams seem fired up for different reasons. The Rangers got behind Martin St-Louis whit the tragic loss of his mother. On the other end, the Canadiens got rid of their arch rivals and arguably the best team in the NHL. The Rangers don't have much success in the Bell Centre and that arena will be way louder than normal. New York came from two 7 matches series and that might be a factor down the road. Once again, we'll have a great goaltending matchup. I'll give the advantage to the Habs in this one because they have the home-ice advantage and if it goes a long way, I believe they're in better shape.
On the other side of the continent, the Kings won easily their 7th game versus the Ducks. However, in each of their series, they had many brain cramps and when you play with fire, you eventually get burn. Both teams had many success in the playoffs in recent memory and the fans should be excited about this matchup. The Blackhawks have a well balanced team and also have the firepower to mess with the Kings defensive core. I prefer Jonathan Quick to Corey Crawford however. Once again, it will be a close one but I'll give the edge to the Hawks and if it's the case, we'll have another orignal six matchup in the Stanley Cup finals!
Montreal vs New York
Chicago vs Los Angeles
After a crazy last day that included three seven games, it's time to check my stats for the first round. I predicted 6 good series out of 8 (75%). The second round will not be easier and some matchups should go a long way.
In the east, the Boston Bruins will square off against their big rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Once again, it's the talk of the province in Quebec and once again this matchup involves two philosophies of hockey. The goalies on both side are elite and each one of them will probably steal one or two games for their respective teams. If it goes the distance, the Bruins will be the favourites with the home-ice advantage and their big physical presence. I'll pick them in this one.
The Penguins took care of the Blue Jackets in a longer series than expected while the Rangers had to win it at the Madison Square Garden in game 7 yesterday. The Rangers will be more exhausted and it could be a difference in the early going of this series. Marc-Andre Fleury was good on occasion while also having some brain cramps against Columbus. I'll root for the Rangers but I must take the Penguins since they have the star power to lift them in any moment of a game.
On the other side of the continent, the Ducks will have the huge task to defeat the Kings in another all Californian show down. The Kings went against all mathematic rules by coming back from 3 consecutive loses. It's an understatement to say that they have a good momentum. The Ducks may have a little bit more pure scorers in their lineup but it's hard for me to go against Los Angeles since they have such a good playoff team. The Kings should win it in a relatively long series.
The last matchup will face the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild. I love many of the Wild players but Chicago has a much better team than the Colorado Avalanche. Even if I think that the Wild could easily compete with the Blackhawks forwards, the goaltending will be a major difference in this one. I'll pick the Blackhawks.
Boston vs Montreal
Pittsburgh vs New York
Anaheim vs Los Angeles
Chicago vs Minnesota
The NHL playoffs start tonight and as usual, I will try to predict the outcome of each matchup. Last year, I had 12 good predictions out of 15 (80%) and it was easily my best year so far. I'll try to be as good this year!
In the east, the Boston Bruins will square off against the Detroit Red Wings. The B's will prevail in this one, but it might be closer than expected for the President's trophy winner. The Red Wings have many key injuries but they always have surprise players to pick up the available ice time. When all is said and done, the Bruins physicality and depth will have made the difference.
Tampa Bay will have to face the most glorious franchises of them all, the Montreal Canadiens. Everybody seem to think that Ben Bishop is a huge lost since Anders Lindback is raw. I believe that Lindback won't be an issue: he's had a very hot last regular season week and also had good numbers last year when he had more regular starts. However, I believe that the Canadiens will win this one. Carey Price will steal one or two games and the very young Lightning players will have too much pressure to retaliate.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will face a relative unknown of the playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marc-Andre Fleury will have a ton of pressure after his big struggle in last year's playoffs. The Blue Jackets will work hard in this one but they don't have the firepower to win a 7 game series. It will be longer than expected, but the superstars packed Penguins will advance.
In a much anticipated matchup, the New York Rangers will have to face the Philadelphia Flyers. That's the series I will match the most closely in the east this year. Both teams have forces and weaknesses and are pretty much equally matched. They also both have playoff like players. Even if the Rangers have the home-ice advantage, I think that the Flyers will win one game at the Madison Square Garden and take the momentum. The Flyers should win this one.
In the west, the Avalanche took the opportunity that they had to finish first in their division and face the much more available Minnesota Wild. However, that won't be an easy task. The Wild have key elements (Parise, Koivu, Suter, Granlund and so on) that will make things difficult for the Avs. I like the forward depth of Colorado and they should not have a problem in net. I'll take the Avalanche to win this one, but that will be a long series.
The fact that the St-Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks meet in the first round is a testament about the parity that exist in this league. Both teams are amongst the favorites to win the Stanley Cup yet only one will go to the next round. The Blues had a pretty rough end of the regular season, to say the least. The Blackhawks had very good success in the last couple of years and they should be able to come on top. Once again, I think it will be a good and long series and the winner of this one will be tired for the second round.
It's good to see the Dallas Stars back in the playoff picture. However, they will have to face a very good team in the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have a lot of key players and their dynamic duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf could make a huge difference. Even if Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin can be equally good, the depth of the Anaheim Ducks will be the major difference.
In an all Californian matchup, the Los Angeles Kings will face the San Jose Sharks. I repeat myself each and every year but I believe that the Los Angeles Kings have a playoff based team. Their players thrive under these circumstances. The Sharks on the other end always have good team but disappoint more often than not. Even if San Jose has the home-ice advantage, my pick goes to the Los Angeles.
Boston vs Detroit
Tampa Bay vs Montreal
Pittsburgh vs Columbus
New York vs Philadelphia
Colorado vs Minnesota
St-Louis vs Chicago
Anaheim vs Dallas
San Jose vs Los Angeles