NHL Playoff Beard Watch: Ilya Kovalchuk, Keith Yandle get an ‘A’ for effort

(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?

The letter "A" is awarded only to the best. Students with the highest scores. Products with the best quality. Restaurants with the cleanest kitchens. We all know Alvin didn't lead The Chimpmunks just because he had the best dance moves. The very presence of an "A" denotes greatness.

We love (OK, worship) our NHL team captains. But in life, it's rare that a "C" should outrank an "A."

To keep the status quo, this week we salute one NHL alternate captain from each remaining playoff team. These men are first in our books — leading by example on and off the ice, above and below the chinstrap.

Here are our top marks for how "A" beard should look.

Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils

Kovalchuk's beard is like a Russian gymnast -- low to the ground and going for gold. This beard will not let anything get the way of achieving supremacy, especially not his shirt collar or this towel. With Holtby out, Kovy has vaulted his way to the top of the Best Neck Beard list. Right now we'd give it an 8.0, but if the Devils advance to the Finals, it's going for a perfect 10.

Marc Staal, New York Rangers

Ginger Staal, we may have to rethink your nickname -- and you won't like it.

Turns out you're not really as ginger as we thought! With Giroux and the Flyers out, you were like Obi-Wan Kenobi -- our only hope. Guess we'll have to settle for this impressively distinguished and functional look, so closely cropped it's like Beard Light. Bonus points for a moustache that is full but not bushy.

If we sound surprised, it's because we are. We've all witnessed your brothers' chronic inability to grow facial hair above their lips. Eric and Jordan both have Stanley Cups, though -- this could be the year that you and your beard get one too.

Show 'em how it's done, Cinnamon Staal.

Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings

A blond beard! We hardly ever see these, so you'll have to forgive our excitement. It's like catching a glimpse of Bigfoot when you're on a hike in the woods: so awesome, it's hard to believe it's real.

The man they call "Hawk" rocks a beard so golden blond it serves as a beacon in the dark night of the ebony-bearded L.A. Kings. All that facial hair makes them look like a conquering horde come to pillage your team's defense and plunder their goal line.

Despite his flaxen glow, Greene fits right in, doing his best impression of a bannerman from "Game of Thrones." Just wait till they find out he's actually a Lannister.

Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes

The glory of Keith Yandle's beard is compounded by the fact it was 106 degrees in Phoenix before Game 2. We know it's a "dry heat," but no one wants to wear a sweater on their face when they're living on the surface of the sun. This chestnut brown beauty just soaks it up, growing and flourishing like a beautiful desert flower.

Add it to his thick hair (Superman curl!) and those eyebrows -- it's a beard for the ages. You make us proud, sir.