Stanley Cup Beard Watch: Who has the best playoff scruff?

(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?

It's the most wonderful time of year again - the fire, fear and follicles of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  

As both sports and beards go, some teams and players perform better than others.  Those who stepped up in Round 1 live to shave another day. Those who stepped out, well, we'll always have next year

In honor of the NHL switching to a playoff bracket system, we bring you BeardWatch 2014 as head-to-head - or make that beard-to-beard - matchups.

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

Like their lines, Bruins’ beards roll deep. Chara, Boychuk, Thornton, Bergeron and Lucic are just a few of the beauties on a team stacked like LEGOs. These beards know what it takes to go the distance. Look for Dougie “Beeker” Hamilton and Kevan Miller to make strong facial impressions - their play has all season, so it’s only natural their assemblage of follicles would follow suit.  

We expect Brandon Prust and PK Subban to lead the Habs’ Beard Brigade. George Parros (didn’t play vs. Tampa) seems committed to mustache-only, but it’s threatening to take over his face. If he gets ice time, we beg him to go full-beard. Tomas Plekanec’s painstakingly sculpted goatee (and mock turtleneck) adds a sinister, Faustian element to what is already the best rivalry in all of sports.  

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

The Penguins best beard went with all those man games lost to injury; the absence of Pascal Dupuis’ face is not easily overcome. James Neal will carry much of the burden with the majestic Gingerbeard, while Sutter, Niskanen and Letang need a few more games to grow in.  

On the Rangers’ side, Henrik Lundqvist once promised to forgo his runway-ready grooming and rock a full, bushy playoff beard. It’s time for him and Marc “Ginger” Staal to live up to their potential. Add in the memory of Kevin Klein’s weird-beard-and-mohawk from Nashville and Brian Boyle’s perfectly defined “Inigo Montoya” and the NYR might have the edge.  

Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings

The Battle of SoCal will be more gloriously bearded than any series in the north. Daniel Winnik and Patrick Maroon are the early leaders in our Lumberjack category. In a word, they are scrumtrulescent. This picture of Maroon is ten days old - we can hardly wait to see his face now (if there’s any face left to see). Matheiu Perreault will run third here, despite starting his grow-out in March.

The Kings, riding high on their historic comeback against the Sharks, point their beards to the south. Look for guys like Justin Williams and Jeff Carter to lead the charge, with Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar scraggling just behind. While we prefer Mike Richards so burly he can’t see beyond his nose, he’ll have to get to the Conference Finals first.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild

When it comes to playoff beards, the Blackhawks are about 90 percent. We affectionately think of Toews and Kane as Wolverine & The Meerkat, and then those un-beards always beat our teams so we should just shut up. Brandon Bollig’s ebon ground cover is A+, and while Patrick Sharp needs another week, his face simply never disappoints. You can bet Corey Crawford is hiding a beard under that mask and it looks damn good. Last year’s Beard of the Year, Johnny Oduya, anchors the strong Hawks squad.  

The Wild’s hopes rest with Kyle Brodziak. His Nordic-inspired facial hair is perfectly suited for Minnesota. While it’s pretty obvious Parise and Suter will not be sprouting $98 million whiskers, Jason Pominville already has an impressive neckbeard going and something appropriately hardscrabble is happening to Carson McMillan.

It’s been a decade since the Wild made it past the first round, who knows what they can do?

The Beards That Might Have Been

Jordie Benn

Oh, Jordie Benn. You had a head start but we were polishing the Beard of the Year trophy (really just a mirror) for you already.  What this beard could have become!  *shakes fists angrily at sky*  In its short life, your beard was a spectacular compilation of everything we love about  playoff beards - depth, breadth, ginger. All we’re saying is that it better not take Dallas another five seasons to make the playoffs again.

Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek

Dying their beards was a flash of genius. It’s so hipster, but they’re not. It’s so middle-aged, but they’re not.  It’s so dandy, but they’re… Flyers.  Rough and tumble, blood and guts, these are the guys least likely to check their hair in the mirror before pre-game skate. We appreciated their enthusiasm while it lasted.

Claude Giroux

This is a real and tragic loss for beard fans everywhere. The all-orange, all the time look Giroux rocks every playoffs is a commitment few athletes can match. By the end of Round 1 he resembled Animal from The Muppets - later rounds and we’d have Bugs Bunny’s friend George on the ice. Soon teams will be drafting guys based on how completely they can blend into their uniforms, like urban camouflage.

Brent Burns

Everyone talks about the Sharks’ history of playoff collapses, but no one voices the biggest concern: What if Brent Burns’ beard monstrosity never reaches its full potential? Who could ever set the bar higher or weirder, and with such glee? If we could grow playoff beards, this is how we’d do it: halfway to homeless, never a trim and no regrets.