Sooooooo..........The NHL playoffs march on. It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The NHL Eastern Conference Finals are in full swing and the previews & recaps of the games are easy to find and numerous. You certainly don't need us here at Pure Hockey giving you our thoughts on the actual games. But we started thinking about different ways to look at the matchup and it become obvious to us very quickly that a full equipment breakdown was needed between the two remaining teams in the east. And so it shall be done!
We took a look at some major categories, gloves, sticks, skates and helmets and goalie gear to see what all the players are wearing. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the folks at Bauer Hockey pretty much dominate the landscape, with 47% of the total gear worn by both teams being Bauer gear. CCM/Reebok comes second with 25%, followed closely by Easton with 20%. All other vendors were under 10%.
Easton Hockey fared relatively well in sticks. Again, not much of a surprise there, given that's really Easton's core competence and their longstanding reputation as a manufacturer of excellent performing sticks (and good looking ones, to boot). 56% of the Penguins players use Easton sticks, but in another big surprise, only 8% of Boston players brandish an Easton twig. That's a pretty big delta there. Many of the Pens & Bruins are still using RS sticks, though it seems more Pens are using the Mako 2's. Again, Bauer led the way for Boston player sticks with 48% of the tally for the Bruins, a solid mix between Total One NXG's and APX sticks (and the upcoming APX2 sticks as well). Whoever the pro rep is for the Bruins is doing a helluva job! CCM has made massive inroads with their RBZ stick this season - it's a really impressive stick and we are seeing that thing everywhere in the NHL - but not on Boston or Pittsburgh. Both teams had just 4% of their players using the RBZ. However, Reebok accounts for 12% of the Penguins and 24% of the Bruins players for sticks, so when you add up Reebok & CCM (same company), you have a very respectable 28% on Boston and 16% on the Penguins.
In the glove category, we were pretty surprised to see Easton leading the way on the Penguins team, with 44%, more than double Bauer and Reebok/CCM presence, each at 20%. Warrior also has a nice showing in the Steel City with 16% of the Penguins donning Warrior mitts. For the Bruins, Bauer once again dominates, as 56% of the Bruins wear Bauer gloves. Reebok comes second with 24% and Warrior is at 8%. Again, a large difference with Easton on the Bruins vs. the Penguins - just 4% of Bruins players are wearing Easton gloves vs. 56% of the Pens.
With every passing year, CCM's skate quality is dramatically improving. There was a time in the 1980's when CCM was the Google of skates. It was more or less THE option. That has changed. Bauer's R&D over the last 10-15 years has really been impressive. They still OWN the skate category in this matchup, as a whopping 88% of the Bruins and 64% of the Penguins wear Bauer skates, with a lot of players wearing APX2's and some wearing TotalOne NXG's. We don't see many players in the Nexus 1000's yet, but that line is still pretty new for Bauer. We are guessing that five years ago, you wouldn't have seen Reebok/CCM generating 12% of Bruins skates and 20% of Penguins skates, so congrats to them. If the RBZ skates are as good as our early testing indicates, those numbers are heading nowhere but up. They are very very good skates. Another surprising number - 12% of Penguins players are in Graf skates. Not a dig on Graf, as we think those are about as impressive a skate as you'll find, just a little surprising that it is so high. We'll see what happens with Easton's MLX technology and the Mako skates, which we like quite a bit - but they have a long way to go still - just 4% of Pens players and no Bruins players wear Eastons.
For lids, this seems like a more even playing field. Bauer still comes in very respectable, but the various manufacturers come in much stronger here. On the Bruins, it should come as no surprise that Bauer once again plays the heavy here with 48% of the helmets on the Bruins team. CCM/Reebok is right there, though, with 44% of the share on the B's. Warrior and Easton each represent 4%. Much like sticks, Easton comes out the winner on the Pens team as 36% of the flightless birds use an Easton lid. Bauer and Reebok/CCM are tied at 32%. So it's a more even spread for helmets. Not very surprising, given Reebok/CCM's good strength in protective gear.
This is always an interesting set of data. For the Penguins, Reebok/CCM dominates with a 75% share. Fluery, of course, is a longtime Reebok athlete so this is no shock to anyone. Bauer represents the other 25%. For Boston, it's a much more varied spread with Vaughn coming out on top at 33%, followed by Reebok at 25%. This is the one category where Bauer does not dominate on the Bruins - 17% of the goalie gear has Bauer's marks on it.
How we compiled this: We grabbed the rosters from each team's respective websites and then we went hunting for recent pictures. Most of the images we compiled this data from are pictures from the last week or so. If it was a player who hasn't seen playoff action, we grabbed a picture from their last NHL game or AHL game if they haven't seen any NHL action yet (reserve callups, for example). It was a good exercise and very interesting!
You can download the full size graphic right here and see it in a much larger, clearer size. Study it and share it all you want! We'd love to hear your thoughts. What surprised you? What didn't? What SHOULD players be wearing?