Leading up to Wednesday's Game 1, Puck Daddy is previewing every facet of the Stanley Cup Finals between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings— on the ice and off the ice. Here are our playoff beard gurus Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve? on the Final beard battle.)
By Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?
If you go seven months without seeing an acquaintance, you might greet them with, "Wow, you look so...." The word the Devils and Kings need here is hairy. These teams last met in October and it's a wonder if they'd recognize each other now without the numbers on their backs.
Each team has been presented with one trophy this year. Both captains opted not to touch their Conference chalices, but only one will lift the Cup in 2012.
Will a playoff beard be the first to kiss Lord Stanley's prize, or find itself waiting to see whom the captain hands the Cup to next?
Dustin Brown vs. Zach Parise
Running unopposed, Dustin Brown wins this category just by showing up. Still, it wasn't easy. His facial hair is like a political campaign, attempting to collect enough votes to call itself a beard. Pockets of enthusiasm along his sideburns stuffed the ballot box, but support wavered as it approached his mouth. For the sake of team spirit and beloved sports tradition, we applaud his effort to register some beard on the majority of his face, and name him the winner.
For the record, Zach Parise doesn't need a beard. All the better to compare the million dollar smile of a Stanley Cup Final run to the zillion-dollar contract smile he'll be flashing this summer.
Matt Greene vs. Andy Greene
We bet these guys had a great "nod and hey" friendship going back in October. Same last name? We're cool. Not like we'll ever see each other in the playoffs.
Now, the battle for Greene supremacy is on. Both put on a good, grizzled show and made their mothers proud, but the advantage goes to Matt.
As we've said before, a blond beard is so rare it's like a snow leopard spotted in the wild. All of a sudden, a perfectly strong and shiny regular leopard seems pretty boring by comparison.
Unfair? Maybe. But we cannot turn away from the light.
Jeff Carter vs. David Clarkson
If one of these beards could win for high definition color, David Clarkson's fiery finery would emerge victorious. His grooming is also impeccable - perhaps the second Devil we'd grant permission to sport a year-round beard display.
But surprisingly, we are giving this one to Jeff Carter.
His beard is positively... primitive. It's evolutionary. It's ombre, like Chuck's hair. For the first two rounds, he wore it like a fashion accessory. Now it's grown beyond trendy, beyond manscaping. It is taking over his face and Jeff Carter (Jeff Carter!!) is doing nothing to stop it.
He and Mike Richards recently sat behind the netting at a Dodgers game looking like gorillas in the zoo. If you told us they threw out all their Ed Hardy shirts, we'd almost believe you.
Anze Kopitar vs. Ilya Kovalchuk
Color is key for dark beards too. For example: on the ice in his tinted visor, it's hard to tell where Anze Kopitar's helmet ends and his bearded face begins. Surprisingly full after a patchy, chin-centric start, his beard has developed an almost absence of color. Add in the Kings' black and white uniforms and Kopitar appears to be in Kansas just before the Twister hits.
By comparison, Ilya Kovalchuk wakes up in full Technicolor. His glossy beard grows straight down his off his face like it's following the Yellow Brick Road. The way through the forest may be dark and a little scary, but we're choosing Kovalchuk's neck beard to guide us.
Dustin Penner vs. the World
Let us be clear - the guy on the right is not with us. We didn't plant him in this photo to illustrate the mesmerizing power of Dustin Penner's one-man wolfpack glory. He's an innocent bystander, caught in Penner's "shock and awe" blast radius.
This epic beard grows out, instead of down, and if the Finals go long he may cross over into that time Joaquin Phoenix went crazy and tried to be a rapper. Like a tractor beam, once you're hooked by the magnetic pull there's no sense in fighting. This unstoppable beard will not be contained by the circumference of a hockey helmet. Regardless of who you root for in this series, Penner's beard deserves a standing ovation.
Overall Winner: LA Kings
The Wild West has the decided advantage over the East.
Add in guys like Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell and Jarrett Stoll, and the Kings' bearded supremacy is further solidified. New Jersey displays strong individual efforts but ultimately falls short of the Best Team Beard prize. Los Angeles only sees facial hair like this on the big screen, and then that guy wins an Oscar for his bravado performance.
Starting Wednesday, the sixth-seeded Devils, eighth-seeded Kings and their beards begin their quest for the toughest trophy in professional sports. Will the best beards win?