(Ed. Note: We're proud to welcome two of our favorite bloggers, Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?, to the Puck Daddy fold as they author our weekly NHL Playoff Beard Watch every Thursday.)
By Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?
This early in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, beards are like second-round berths and regulation wins - shiny hopes and dreams. It's barely Week 2 and, at best, most players are sporting only peach fuzz or the beard equivalent of an offseason weekend bender.
Some have already grown all they'll ever manage.
But a few prime specimens have begun to emerge as top contenders for the coveted Beard of the Year award. Can they go all the way? Or will they be forced, defeated and follicle-free, to the back nine before they have reached their full potential?
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
We've reviewed the video and determined that Jumbo Joe is clearly the early front runner.
Look at that thing. It's glorious. He's been cultivating this beard since mid-March, which could potentially earn him a hearing from the Department of Player Styling. We'll take prior offenses into consideration when Beard of the Year votes are tabulated. For now, Bigfoot here is the leader of the pack. If Thornton had waited, he'd look like...
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
So, maybe Shea Weber was jealous and just trying to wipe this off Zetterberg's face?
No denying that Henrik Zetterberg is extremely mansome and perfectly groomed as often as the Red Wings make the playoffs. Known for elevating his offensive performance during the postseason, Henrik is also known for stepping up his man-scaping come playoff time. By the Finals in 2008 and 2009, he looked like a philosophy professor contemplating the ethics of embarrassing a goalie.
The Wings are a lower-than-usual playoff seed this round, but we're already seeing a top-notch effort in Zetterberg's mirror.
Kevin Klein, Nashville Predators
As girls, we know all about maximizing your assets. Kevin Klein's dedication to this facial creation stands alone as this season's objet d'arte. Add to that the serious mohawk he's got going on, and this is a Beard of the Year contender we just can't ignore. It's so ridiculous, yet awesome at the same time.
Also, we think his facial hair might be magical. Klein and his beard/mohawk have scored two goals so far these playoffs, doubling his regular-season total.
Brian Boyle, New York Rangers (More on Boyle from What's Up, Ya Sieve?)
Ah, The Conquistador. If you resemble a young Mandy Patinkin, the best possible thing you can do is grow a facial hair reminiscent of Inigo Montoya. While the goatee vs. beard debate has raged for years when it comes to Beard of the Year eligibility, we will always vote in favor of something that looks ready to challenge us to a duel.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (More on Giroux from What's Up, Ya Sieve?)
Claude Giroux's total commitment to orange is a glorious thing.
Philly has a disproportionate amount of ginger players, but Giroux must have been custom-mixed to match a paint chip from the Flyers pro shop. Right now, his beard resembles the Chuck Norris - if only Chuck Norris were man enough to wear pink shirts and plaid suits.
Fellow hue-perfect Flyer Jakub Voracek has some catching up to do.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Unless Burns' contract includes a non-compete beard clause, there's no reason he shouldn't be outdoing Joe Thornton. Burns could start today and have a full Darwin beard by Monday. He didn't make it past the first round with Minnesota, so we never got to see his beard in its full glory. But we imagine he'd put Santa to shame by the conference finals.
• • •
There you have it - our early candidates for the Beard of the Year Award. Since this is only the primary, you can be sure that more candidates will emerge as the playoffs continue. And if you think we missed a worthy beard, a dark horse contender, write 'em in. Remember...vote early and vote often. Voice your choice, hockey fans.
Read much more from Chuck and Pants on What's Up, Ya Sieve?, one of our favorite blogs for irreverent bits of awesome on the world of puck.