Stanley Cup Beard Watch: NHL’s star players and their 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 author our weekly NHL Playoff Beard Watch every Thursday.)

By Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?

Playoff beards come in all shapes and sizes. If we went for the burliest and baddest every week, we’d end up talking about the Kings and Sharks while waiting for everyone else to catch up.

But big games are for big names, and Round 2 is rife with star players gunning for the Cup.

This week we’re looking at one star from each team - are they leading their teams in the mirror, as well as on the ice?

Ottawa Senators: Daniel Alfredsson

When you require a headband under your helmet to keep your curls in check, we expect a certain level of beard accomplishment to follow. Alfie’s respectable scruff comes with a bonus feature for the Senators elder statesman: this beard, like his on-ice play, will never reveal his age. Redheads don’t turn salt and pepper, just gracefully fade to strawberry lemonade.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby

The Sidstache is a yearly source of angst for us. We don’t typically support anything that looks ready to announce the comeback tour of a late-90s boyband.

This year - dare we say it? - it’s really not that bad.

Okay, okay! It’s not very good either, but for a guy who has more superstitions than teeth, this is his best playoff beard attempt yet. Add in his hair (long and messy enough to make Pierre McGuire stand even closer) and by June it might almost be a shame to cover Sid with the Iron Giant’s helmet.

Chicago Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews

As Pride and Prejudice famously said, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good beard must be in want of a mustache.”

Or something like that.

Too bad growing a mustache is the one thing in this world Jonathan Toews can’t do (and shouldn’t try). Guys, be honest: Is this beard - closing in on his face like a baby lion’s mane of fur - the only thing you wouldn’t trade with Jonathan Toews?

Well you’d be wrong. Turn to your wife/girlfriend/female stranger on the bus and say: “Mr. Darcy.” Four out of five just swooned. Built into the romantic literary history of womankind is a weakness for the tall, dark and mutton-chopped hero brooding over how much he hates fun and just wants to be away from his charismatic, popular sidekick. This beard has been winning stubborn hearts since the late 18th century, and it’s not about to stop now.

Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk

You know who loves playoff beards? Along with Facebook, including pictures of babies wearing fake playoff beards - Pavel Datsyuk. So while not everyone can lead the Wings in facial hair, not everyone (or anyone) can do the things (any things) that Pavel Datsyuk can do. His ground cover is quickly approaching the Round 2 fullness of 2011, but Pavel keeps it close-cropped to maximize aerodynamics.

Ever the competitor, Datsyuk has openly set this year’s beard bar pretty high. The Wings might need a long series to hit this little mark.

New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist

Ah, the beard that makes other beards jealous. The beard pitches Game 6 and 7 shutouts. The beard considers itself lucky to reside on this face and so performs the job with exact symmetry and depth, like the crystalline water of an untouched fjord... er, sorry. What were we talking about? Oh yeah. Hank, you may be The Most Interesting Beard in the World but don’t get carried away. It’s not even Game 1 of the series and that fuzz is creeping down your neck just a liiiiitle too far.

Don't mar the idyllic landscape. Even with your mask on, we’ll know if you’re slacking.

Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron

Nothing says “star” like the show Bergy put on Monday night, so it’s only fitting we honor the beard that was along for the ride. Patrice wears a year-round, League-best five o’clock shadow, like the college lit professor we were never lucky enough to have. It almost bowed out as such in the first round.

But no. Defying history, logic and the belief of everyone watching, it became The Beard That Lived. Nourished by the screams of Bruins fans and watered by the tears of Toronto, Patrice Bergeron’s beard arrives in the second round already a legend.

Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter

There’s something to be said about a Jeff Carter photo search yielding mostly photos of Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys. Jeff’s prettiness has, in the past, caused some problems. Like a weapon in the hands of a padawan, he didn’t grasp the importance of controlling it.

Now, Carts’ beard lends a gravitas that is perfect for the playoffs. The shade is darker. The look is serious. The race to repeat is on and Carts intends to have a manly reflection to admire he gets that shiny trophy back.

San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski

We may be stretching the use of “star” here, but we’ve talked enough about Burns and Thornton enough and are politely ignoring Couture’s facial hair. Plus, we really like Joe Pavelski.

He has two key qualities: a tie for team lead in playoff points and at this very moment, hair and beard that are exactly same length. It’s a perfectly planted hedgerow. The 1:1 ratio is fleeting, but Joe’s is especially rare: his beard is so blond it’s only visible from certain angles, like a collage you stare at waiting for the 3D image to appear.

Even when you see it, you’re not sure you’re seeing it. Sit really close to your TV tonight and wait for the magic.