(Ed. Note: We're proud to welcome back two of our favorite bloggers, Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?, to the Puck Daddy fold as they rate playoff beards after each round.)
By Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?
The end is near.
When next we write, it will be to crown the 2014 Beard of the Year. Well, perhaps ‘crown’ really isn’t the word, because it’s worn on the other side of the head, but you know what we mean. And that doesn’t guarantee we’re choosing one of the Kings.
Our favorite thing about playoff beards is how hard almost everyone tries. What you see is what they can grow - or can’t - borne by time and the seemingly miraculous power of blood, sweat and tears. The beards are turned up to 11 and none shall sit idly by while another usurps the best trophy in sports.
So the eventual winner stands before us, somewhere in that lineup of burly heroes. Will it be King Henrik? Or California Chrome himself, Jeff Carter?
Can you even tell most of these guys apart any more?
New York Rangers
We used our super-scientific “Coarsey” beard rating to predict the outcome of the Eastern Conference Final. All the beard data was entered on a Speak ‘N Spell left over from elementary school - you know, with the robot voice - and it said the Rangers would defeat the Habs.
(Then Pants stabbed the Speak ‘N Spell, soaked it with a hose and tossed it off a bridge. She really doesn’t like the Rangers.)
But science had spoken and the most bearded team reigned supreme.
Derick Brassard, who already bears a striking resemblance to Keanu Reeves, has surpassed his Hollywood doppelgänger’s top beardedness. We predict he’ll reach Noah Wyle-“Falling Skies” level by the time the Cup is presented. If you remember who Noah Wyle is.
Speaking of Dereks - what team has three Dereks? And more importantly for our purposes, what team besides the Flyers has three gingerbeards?
Derek Dorsett sets himself apart with perhaps the best remaining redbeard of these playoffs, retaining its color while needing at least four more games to reach its full potential.
Brad Richards looks surprisingly strawberry under the arena lights, even as his beard turns into something you could grow by watering a Chia Pet daily. It’s so dense and wiry - do you think it feels like Astroturf?
Taking third in this race is Marc Staal, which, with brothers like Eric and Jordan, is just his lot in life. He’s long been referred to as “Ginger Staal,” but that was relevant to the company.
The Rangers other VIBs include a surprise hero, an unsurprising hero and former Boston Bruin Benoit Pouliot, for when Chuck gets nostalgic and misses her team.
Dominic Moore, series-winning goal scorer, may even outgrow King Henrik in this Final round - though he’ll need to work on his icy stare.
Los Angeles Kings
After their 2012 victory, this collection of beards knows exactly what it takes to hoist that Cup. Bearded Wonder Twins Justin Williams and Willie Mitchell lead the charge, with beards as clutch as their post-season play. Look at these high-spirited rouges - they’re just tights away from playing Merry Men in a Robin Hood movie.
Not to be outdone by the Rangers, the Kings have their own celebrity stunt double and handsomely hirsute series-winning goal scorer combined: Alec Martinez.
And this one writes itself - do you see Wil Wheaton? Kings fan extraordinaire, our adolescent crush-turned-hilarious adult nerd-turned even better when we found out he loves hockey?
We see Wil Wheaton. (Wesley Crusher 4-Eva!)
Martinez’s beard aptitude belies his young age - he could be a BeardWatch contender for years to come. He may have referred to himself and his teammates as “cockroaches” but the only thing they really have in common is their ability to survive in unforgiving environments (like the United Center).
Be prepared to see lots of close-ups and montages of Marian Gaborik during this series. His story and his beard are just ripe for television: he’s facing his former team and playing for his first Stanley Cup. But so help us Hockey Gods, if Pierre McGuire pulls out some obscure fact about the beard growing tradition in Trencin, Slovakia, he is going to feel our internet rage.
Other royally notable whiskers include Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. Some consider Stoll an underrated player but his faceoff winning percentage and stubble are far from it. We always forget about Matt Greene’s blond beard until it magically appears around the Conference Finals and we squeal for joy like we just found $20 in the dryer.
Of course, no Kings’ retrospective is truly complete without Jeff Carter.
Carter’s playoff hair and beard have been flawless through three rounds - no small feat, he’s got a lot of competition with David Beckham in the stands.
Carts could win Beard of the Year, the Cup and maybe throw the Conn Smythe in there too. That’s our kind of Triple Crown.