NHL Playoff Predictions According To Your Mom: A Guest Post about Hockey Jerseys and the Eastern Conference Matchups

Eric Sylvester, Resident Sartorialist and Rabble Rouser

NHL Playoff Predictions According To Your Mom: A Guest Post about Hockey Jerseys and the Eastern Conference Matchups

by Eric Sylvester, special to The Daily Cocca.

All right, all you puck heads! It’s that magical time of the year you’ve all been waiting for! THE ROAD TO THE STANLEY CUP!

Ok, ok. In all honesty, I get it. There aren’t that many hockey fans in America. Which is a shame, really, as the NHL playoffs are the most exciting in all of sports. Every year, I drag a few non-hockey fans kicking and screaming to a television and throw on some playoff hockey, and every year those same non-hockey fans end up watching the rest of the playoffs on their own. There are more storylines than WWE’s Smackdown. There is more drama than Days of our Lives. There’s more personal vendetta and bad blood than The Wire. It’s violent, passionate, fast, creative, graceful, and brutal all at once. There’s nothing like the NHL playoffs.

One of the beautiful things about the NHL playoffs is its unpredictability. Anybody can win any series, no matter who is playing. So, how do you pick a winner in a league where the Western Conference saw the 1,2,3, and 5 seeds advance, while the East had the 4,6,7, and 8 seeds advance after the first round? The answer? You can’t. I worship hockey. I study it. I listen to call-in hockey shows daily. I read blogs daily. And you have as good of a chance as I do to pick the winners. So? We’re going with a tried and true method. Jerseys.

Don’t laugh. My mom has dominated her office March Madness pool for years now making her picks taking only the seed, the team nickname, and the team’s jerseys into account. She literally picked VCU to win the first round based solely on the fact that it sounds like a Russian guy saying “we see you”.

Ok, that was a lie. But it wouldn’t surprise me if that actually happened.

Anyway, I watched no less than 75 NHL games last year on TV, and picked 2 of the 8 opening series’ correctly. I’m going to bite the bullet, stop making fun of my mom’s methods, and use her system. So, without further adieu, I give you…


#1 Washington Capitals VS # 8 New York Rangers.

This is a very interesting matchup. Washington uses a throwback logo on a new jersey design, while the Ranger’s scheme is classic and generally untouched in the last 20 years. I want to pick New York here. It’s the right move as a hockey purist. The diagonal “Rangers” jersey is a timeless look that has been emulated at every level of hockey. But there’s just something about those Caps jerseys I can’t get enough of. They’re flashy, but not overpowering, and the white looks just as clean as the red. This is one of the more interesting jersey matchups in the first round.


#2 Philadelphia Flyers VS #7 Buffalo Sabres

One of the easier matchups to pick. While both logos are timeless, the integration of new styles on Buffalo’s jerseys blow away the awkward white shoulder stripes in Philly. Plus, Chris Pronger (pictured) is kind of an a-hole.


#3 Boston Bruins VS #6 Montreal Canadiens

(Had to use images of Boston’s Tim Thomas and Montreal’s Carey Price, as these two goalies got into a fight earlier this year).

This is, hands down, the most difficult matchup to pick in the entire NHL playoffs. Both teams are Original Six teams. Both teams have iconic jerseys that haven’t been altered in years. Both have perfect jerseys. And I’m a personal fan of both teams. So, we’re going to pick this one the same way they pick the president. Heads is Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins because Thomas has a gigantic head; tails is Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens because Carey Price has to be getting more tail than any man in Montreal. (Pause for laughter…) Aaaaaaand it looks like… Wow. The coin landed on its edge. Even my quarter is indecisive. But on a second flip, it’s:

MONTREAL IN 7 (Side note: since my Avalanche finished third from the bottom of the NHL this year…ugh… I’ll be supporting Montreal this playoff season).

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins VS #5 Tampa Bay Lightning

Absolute no brainer. The fat penguin is a hockey staple, and Tampa Bay is trying too hard to look like Flash Gordon on ice. Plus? Look at the breezers (pants) the Lightning wear. No contest.


After that, I’ve got the Capitals over the Sabres in 6 (note: the NHL re-seeds in the second round of the playoffs, so the highest remaining seed always plays the lowest remaining seed), the Canadiens over the Penguins in 6, and the Canadiens moving to the Stanley Cup finals in 5.

You heard it here first.

Eric Sylvester is a junior at the University of Northern Iowa studying secondary social science education with an emphasis on political education, although he can’t tell you a thing about any politician not named Ron Paul.  And all he knows about Ron Paul is that he appears to be roughly 156 years old.  Eric hopes to graduate in 2031, and when he isn’t playing hockey, getting rejected by women who are out of his league, or making plans to maybe someday down the road consider cleaning his dorm room, he writes for Sylvester Says, a blog that is accidentally visited by over seven people a month.  He currently is the lead guitarist for (band name TBD), a (genre TBD) band out of (bandmates’ permanent residences TBD).  Mr. Sylvester loves to hold philosophy textbooks in public locations while peering over the top of them to check out the ladies in the area, yet surprisingly, Eric is single despite having a head too small for his beak-like nose and his obsession with Kevin Smith podcasts and movies.  Mr. Sylvester has seen The Big Lebowski over fifty times and read Hemingway almost one time.  He loves responding to comments on his Sylvester Says blog, and has gained many friends who happen to be Nigerian princes who will one day give him back a countless return on his $2,000 investment.  Visit his blog, and join the countless tens of readers who agree, Sylvester Says “could be better”.

Ed. note:  look for Eric’s take on the Western Conference playoffs soon at The Daily Cocca.  In the meantime, do visit Sylvester Says, and tell ’em Cocca sent you.  Many, many thanks to Eric for producing this great debut piece even though I couldn’t pay him in old She-Ra episodes. Wait a minute. Yes I can.

Ed. note PART II: special, special thanks to Paul Lukas, he of UniWatch fame. I’ve written about Paul’s amazing blog a few times here on TDC, and we’re honored to have been linked to there today.  Thanks, Paul!!!! You’re the best!

43 thoughts on “NHL Playoff Predictions According To Your Mom: A Guest Post about Hockey Jerseys and the Eastern Conference Matchups

  1. Note from the author: Cocca put in the sweet “VS” logo thing between the photos. Not me. Thanks for dressing up my images, when I was content with the letters VS in size 12 font between the pictures. This is why you’re the pro and I’m the flattered little minor leaguer getting called up to the big leagues (presumably because the major leaguer is serving a two game suspension for steroid abuse).

  2. the bruins jerseys haven’t been altered in years? they’re totally different from their pre-edge jerseys of just a few years ago, which were also different than the cam neely era jerseys from a few years before that. these are actually updated throwbacks to their 70’s look.

    the moral of the story is that if you’re going to compare canadiens jerseys to bruins jersey, don’t pretend the bruins jerseys have even half the staying power or clout as the habs. those habs sweaters are ancient. the bruins sweaters just resemble something they once abandoned for a couple decades.

    1. I apologize for not clarifying. I wrote this post in approximately 15 minutes between classes, and painted broad strokes for non-hockey fans. Playing the numbers, the safe bet is that the average reader of the Daily Cocca isn’t a diehard hockey fan. Yes, the B’s jerseys are different today than they were from the pre-Edge switchover. But the differences are in the minor details (sleeve patterns, the bear shoulder patch from pre-Edge, etc. etc.). When I say they haven’t changed, I’m saying the general scheme is the same. They didn’t pull a Phoenix, NY Islanders Morton Sea Salt logo, or the “new jersey every two years” philosophy the Bolts live and die by. The premise has always been the same (save for that disgusting gold third jersey).

      Also, we’re discussing 2011 jerseys, not 1995 jerseys. Sure, the Habs haven’t touched their sweaters since..ever, but today it’s a toss-up. Boston learned their lesson and went back to the days of Orr (pun) and have a good looking sweater. The Habs just had it right 40 years ago and didn’t mess with it.

      I totally agree the Habs historically blow away Boston’s jerseys. And the Bruins messed with their jerseys a little more than I remembered (upon further review just now). Again, I wrote this post pretty hastily between classes, not thinking Chris would even put it up. My apologies. I still stick with my view, however, that the current jerseys are a toss up. Best jersey matchup in the first round, as well as best on-ice matchup.

      1. I defer to the absolute authority on these things, Chris Creamer: http://www.sportslogos.net/team.php?id=3

        Scroll down to the bottom where Chris shows the Bruins’ jerseys throughout time. I think you’re both right, but I’m a baseball uni freak and so I don’t know too much about such things. That said, I don’t know how anyone can’t go with that beautiful Flyer orange!

        PS: Sylvester, stop saying you spent less time on this post than on your The Life and Times of Kevin Smith 101 homework =)

        1. Haha I’d be a liar if I said otherwise. I think I’ve got about every second of Smith’s life plotted out now…

  3. I got all excited when I saw a post about hockey! I am an old Islander fan , back when Smitty was in the net, Messier was rearranging faces on the ice, and Bobby Nystrom’s blonde hair was flowing in the breeze as he skated (heavy sigh)…but I digress….
    I agree with your jersey picks (and you like the Caps because their jerseys are vintage)
    And just for the record….ALL Flyers are a-holes!

    1. Ahhh, back when the Island was relevant ;) A friend of mine and I were talking about Messier yesterday, and I made the comment that you NEVER mess with a triple B: big, bald, and bug-eyed.

      I won’t say all Flyers are a-holes. They’re pesky, but not Avery-like (see: Scott Hartnell). However, the ONE Flyer lots of people point to as the “good boy” of the team is Daniel Briere. I’ll never understand how he gets this good guy image, because below the boyish grin is a player that has been suspended for a high stick, a high elbow where he left his skates, and a stick swinging incident earlier this season.

      And, I’m aware I committed a hockey faux pas by giving the nod to Washington over the Rangers blue sweater, but that’s a matter of personal preference I suppose.

      1. two things:

        1) I watched the end of the Caps/Rangers game last night sitting next to a woman wearing a late-80s model Vanbiesbrouck Rangers jersey, and it looked almost exactly the same (maybe 95%) as what I saw on the ice.

        2) I really like the Caps retro-modern style, but the eagles on the shoulder patches (I guess they’re also W’s?) look really out of place to me. “Capitols” looks appropriately old-school chic, but the patches look to mid-90s garish. If you take the patches off, you’ve got a perfectly elegant jersey.

        1. if you didn’t have to look up how to spell Vanbiesbrouck (or check the jersey) I’ll pay you a dollar when I get home.

        2. I did have to look it up (I wasn’t even close, and I’m usually so good about German names because of being the PA Dutch wheelhaus), but I will take your dollar. Maybe I already did.

        3. See, the shoulder patches sell it, and it’s for a reason you didn’t notice.

          1) I don’t mind the eagle. Symbolic of the team name, and I don’t think a better shoulder logo idea could be made.
          2) The “W” design is a clever call out to Washington, which you picked up. But most importantly, (and most often overlooked?)
          3) The bottom center of the eagle (below his head, between his wings) forms a silhouette of the Capitol building in DC. That was mind blowing for me the first time I realized that.

          And I always think of Beezer as a Panther, and not a Ranger, so thanks for reminding me that he wore the blue back in the day as well :)

        4. Plus, the eagle is a sort of call back to their last jerseys before they switched to the new, retro red and blue color scheme.

  4. As much as it pains me, as a die hard Flyers fan, the Flyers are going to have their work cut out for them. Buffalo has been gaining speed since they’ve been under new ownership, and the Flyers have been, to put it lightly, absolute crap on the defense. I’m from Buffalo so I won’t be depressed if Buffalo wins. They kinda deserve it, and they’re a resilient little team.

    Still rooting for my Flyers though, and hoping that they shape up and kick some ASH!

    1. Completely agree. That’s verbatim the argument I used with my teammates when I picked Buffalo over Philly. Playoffs are often about the hot team, not the best team. If Philly takes game one, however, it changes EVERYTHING. That’s a team that knows how to win, and taking the wind out of the Buffalo sails early could turn it all around. Should be an underrated and well fought series. Thanks for reading!

  5. Yep, Chris Pronger is an a-hole, but he’s our a-hole. As for the rest of the team, Sister Earth is entitled to her unjustified opinion.

    Even though we did not win the cup, Flyers fans got enough playoff excitement for a decade last year. First, we qualified for the playoffs by winning a shootout in the last game of the year. Then we were down 3-0 in both the series and game 4 but came back to defeat Boston and advance to the conference finals, where the 7th seed (us) beat the 8th seed. Oh, and our primary goalie returned from an injury that had kept him out for weeks in the same game that his backup was lost for the rest of the season and fan-favorite Ian LaPerriere (this fan, anyway) came back from what was probably a career-ending injury to play courageously in the finals.

    Whatever happens this year, I won’t complain. That’s probably good, since the Flyers have gone from looking like the best team in the league to less than mediocre over the last month.

    1. I’ve always hated Philly (for no real reason; I’m a Colorado fan), but last year was pure magic. If Montreal/Halak doesn’t happen last year, Philly becomes the darling of the playoffs.

      Looks like they’re sticking with Bobs in net for game 1, but he didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence getting run Saturday… Leighton has definitely proven himself as a playoff warrior, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they go to him if Buffalo jumps on them for a 2-0 lead in the series.

  6. If we were making predictions based on sheer awesomeness of goalie masks, the Rangers win the cup every year. Sadly, I’m scheduled to wait another 37 years to see that, again.

    1. Haha I almost did my post on goalie masks instead… However, Flyers goaltender Bobrovsky has Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons on his lid… that’ll carry the Flyers deep :)

      Also, the Ducks wouldn’t even be in the playoffs. Jonas Hiller rocks a completely black mask with ZERO paint on it.

      1. Bobrovsky needs to stick to a singular theme; his mask looks like the underside of a skateboard. Hiller’s mask gets points for the gold grill. It’s understated and matches the jerseys… but I really dislike the Duck’s jerseys. I understand they had to get away from the Disney image but I’m not a fan of their current look.

        1. I was going to bring up the gold cage, but even that doesn’t salvage a completely black mask. I DO like the shape of the mask, as it has a very distinctive, shark fin-esque top to it. However, Sideshow Bob>Gold cage.

  7. Eric, I think you’ll be okay. I know nothing about hockey, but I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Especially the bio. Here’s to the Class of 2031!

    1. Haha thank you very much :) It’s looking more like 2032, as one of my classes I thought would apply to my major is now an “extracurricular”. Awesome.

  8. Awww! Honey Bear, I am SO proud of you what with your guest post and all! Also, I would like to have a moment of silence for my Stars. They were kicking ass earlier this season, but in order to fulfill the Dallas sports team prophecy, the dream had to die to ensure we didn’t make it into the playoffs… Go, Rangers! <– That's the Texas Rangers…LOL! Hope springs eternal!! ;)

    1. Moment of silence recognized. I’m a true Blackhawks hater, and was pulling for Dallas to get in. It’s always tough to see a team with its destiny in their own hands choke away the last game of the season.

      I would root for the Rangers for you, but that would entail me rooting for an American League team. And that’s never gonna happen. ;)

  9. When I first read this, I missed the “guest author”.
    Then I noticed the Flyers being beaten by the Sabres…
    Before I checked out whether Chris had been committed (no Cocca I know would ever put the Flyers down, even in a legitimate matchup) I briefly checked the top and saw that Chris hadn’t written this after all :)

    What a great surprise. Anyhow, nice article Eric, and welcome to the Daily Cocca! I really enjoyed reading your take on sports matchups.

    1. Thank you very much! Haha and I love that you pointed out that he wouldn’t bring down the orange and black even in a legitimate matchup. Good to know haha :) I thought he was a more respectable journalist than this ;)

      Thanks again for the kind words, and look for my Western Conference breakdown here soon!

  10. re: Washington’s shoulder patches: I wasn’t a big fan of the logos preceding the current ones, probably because I skew “postmodern late 60s-early 80s” every time. That’s partly to do with being a Phillies fan. There is no logo more perfect in all of sports that the lower-case postmodern P. (Though the Brewers logo from the same era is pretty awesome…it’s a glove, AND an M AND a B!” The Expos was pretty cleverly multipurpose as well, but a shade too amorphous? Yes, yes it is time for a post about awesome retro baseball logos).

    I see the Capitol building, and I think that’s really cool…I just don’t think the patch fits with the front of the jersey.

    1. Agree to disagree on those shoulder patches.

      I WILL agree that those Brew Crew logos were AMAZING. Wasn’t as big of a fan of those Expo logos… but man, that old school Brewers logo was one of baseball’s best. I also might be blasphemous by saying this, but I love the Joe Carter era Jays jerseys. They’re so hideously 80’s that they’re catchy. Like Styx.

      1. Eric- You thinking of Beezer as a Panther speaks to your age. :) He was a Ranger for 10 years- twice as long as he was with any other team.
        Also – I love Styx.

        1. Laaaaaay-deeeeee!!!! (DRUM FILL)
          When I’m with you I’m smiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-lin’….
          If you’re jersey’s older than Sly…(DRUM FILL)
          Laaaaaaay-deeeeee!!!!!! (DRUM FILL)
          I guess you’re so luuuuuuuuuuh-ky
          To have such (DRUM FILL)
          An awesome guy….

        2. Haha still wet behind the ears at a bright-eyed and bushy tailed 21. I remember Beezer being on the cover of NHL 97, which at age 8 was hockey BLISS on the PC.

          And you sound like my mom… agreeing on everything she posts jersey-wise, and your love for Styx… They’re a guilty pleasure band for me. Don’t tell my college friends…

      2. I’m with you on the Jays jerseys. If I’m not mistaken, that was basically the same jersey they came into the league with. As far as Joe Carter himself, well, I’ll be honest. He broke my heart in 1993.

        1. The Sly comment made me laugh haha…
          And I was 4 when Carter shocked the world, so I can’t speak much to it. But those jerseys were sick.

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