(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?
In this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, the fates select which beards will have a chance to realize their true potential.
Five teams remain. Five beards (OK, six) have emerged as top contenders for Beard of the Year.
None of these teams made it past the second round last season, so the promise of greater bearded glory shines bright. Some faces are familiar, some are new. All are hairy.
Karl Alzner - Washington Capitals
If you missed Movember, perhaps you didn't realize Washington's baby-faced defenseman could grow full handlebars during a pregame nap. Alzner rarely rocks more than a five o'clock shadow, which he probably has by breakfast, so his playoff beard is a sleeper agent waiting to be activated.
Science tells us that, like placing a plant in direct sunlight, playoff beards are nourished and fortified by actual time-on-ice. During the Capitals' triple-overtime marathon vs. the Rangers, Karl Alzner added almost two games worth of density and fullness to this masterpiece. It explains why his dogs trashed his house that night - the poor pups were simply trying to escape and find their dad before the bearded man came back.
Runners Up: Holtby's neckbeard shag, Jason Chimera's Metallica- inspired chinbeard.
Brandon Prust - New York Rangers
When you share a locker room with King Henrik, life is hard. Constantly fighting for space in front of the mirror is worse than standing in the crease at practice. So, how can one possibly keep up with The Most Interesting Man in the World?
Brandon Prust has the answer: grow a better beard. While Henrik promised us a full and bushy playoff beard, it's been Prust who is really delivering this postseason. His season-long handsome scruff has become a true beard commitment. It's even creeping up under his eyes. Such perfect cover, color and evenness would make the grounds crew (but not management) at Yankee Stadium happy all summer long.
Runner Up: John Tortorella - Extending the goatee to a full beard, showing kids everywhere how it's done.
David Clarkson and Andy Greene - New Jersey Devils
We have a tie for the Devils. This list needed one ginger-ish beard and David Clarkson is pretty rosy. Especially because we can't see his jersey and not yell, "Aagghhh Kelly Clarkson!", reliving that chest-waxing scene in "The 40-Year Old Virgin." He brazenly flouts this association and owns his furry features like a man.
Andy Greene, however, is putting together a bear of an effort. It's so dark and lush - with his black bucket on, he appears to be wearing a motorcycle helmet complete with face plate. He's a shoo-in for a guest spot on "Sons of Anarchy."
Shane Doan - Phoenix Coyotes
It's not the best beard on the team, but rather the most metaphorical. The captain's beard is like the Coyotes themselves -- it grows where it's planted. Sometimes it gets distracted by ownership woes, poor attendance and 90-degree heat and thinks about moving farther north along his jaw... but no. It always comes home. This beard wants to stay on his chin, where it's been for 15 years, and it intends to win.
Runner Up: Keith Yandle - The actual best Coyotes beard, perfectly shaped at the neckline.
Dustin Penner - Los Angeles Kings
Out of all the teams left in the playoffs, the Kings are hands down the winners of the Best Team Beard Award. Not only have they mastered their opponents, ousting the Canucks in five games and the Blues in a sweep, they've also mastered the art of facial hair. There are more than a few Kings players who are sporting some seriously awesome playoff scruff, but none more so than Dustin "Pancake" Penner. When we gaze upon this mansomeness, we swoon. The grooming, color and fullness are just right. It's almost perfect - like the Kings record in the playoffs.
Runners up: Rob Scuderi. Justin Williams. Pretty much anyone else on the Kings squad.
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