The playoff beard is a rite of passage for NHL players. As a superstition, many hockey players believe they must not shave until their team is eliminated for fear of angering the hockey gods. It's not mandatory however, as some wild men have bucked the trend and (appeasing their girlfriends) shaved it off while still in the hunt. I’m not saying I believe in superstition, but there were a few volcanic eruptions that wiped out several poor tribes the day after a couple beards were prematurely shaven (this may or may not be true).
All beards are definitely not created equal. Those lucky enough to be born with strong Nordic or similar background can sport a full, hefty, viking beard. While others must live with adjectives like; weak, patchy, and wispy - and no athlete wants to be described as weak, patchy, and wispy.
It does seem that the rougher, tougher players seem to grow the ‘manliest’ beards. But sometimes the small, skilled guys can surprise you. Perhaps a big bushy beard could give the smallest players the extra oomph to go into the corner and come out with the puck.
We're just one round and change deep but you can get a feel for who are the Paul Bunyans and who are the Peggy Sues. For the purposes of this article we will consider any of those that have competed in the playoffs so far, even those whose teams were unfortunately eliminated in the first round. Being a Canuck fan myself, I’m no stranger to first-round exits.
They say the feeling of winning the Stanley Cup is like nothing else. But I'm sure finally shaving off a huge beard in June comes pretty close!
Let’s look at some hairy faces!
15 Dan Boyle
We had to include a grey beard. Dan Boyle has gone sculpt happy in his old age but you can still see the healthy thickness around the chin. This beard could pick up some heavy momentum if the New York Rangers reach the finals again. The Rangers will be hoping Boyle’s beard can impart some Stanley Cup wisdom and leadership as the postseason wears on. Playing for the Rangers instead of the Sharks come springtime gives Boyle the best opportunity to grow the longest beard he's ever grown.
14 Brandon Bollig
This former Stanley Cup Champion knows a thing or two about the playoffs.
Brandon Bollig shocked the NHL when he shaved his beard during the first round. His intimidating performance against the Canucks matched his powerful black beard perfectly. Bollig explained however that in a few days he’ll “have a better beard than most of these kids.”
But did Bollig anger the hockey gods? Although the Flames dispatched Vancouver, they were crushed by the Ducks in the first game 6-1 and are now down two games to none heading back to Calgary.
Bollig better grow that beard back in a hurry!
13 David Jones
This guy completely transforms with a beard. Clean shaven he looks like a second-year marketing student. Add a beard and he looks like he just finished building a log cabin. The Flames are hoping that the visual toughness translates to a gritty playoff performance from Jonesy Crockett. The Flames are pretty small up front, so having thick beards like this is a must if the Flames have any chance of intimidating the Duck giants.
12 Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik ‘the model’ Lundqvist knows a thing or two about how to present himself. While the regular looking hockey players get sponsorships from fast food chains, Lundqvist probably gets paid the big bucks to wear designer suits.
You can see he has the DNA to fill out a full mountain-man beard but his high-end style causes him to tame the beast. Henrik has the most manicured man bush of the playoffs so far.
11 Niklas Kronwall
Dearly departed (from the playoffs), thank you for your entry.
Niklas Kronwall’s beard didn’t get a chance to spread its wings but it made an impression while it was here. Certainly not a classic woodchopping beard, his had a very unique look. The curly wisps are as mesmerizing as Medusas head of snakes. Perhaps Kronwall’s opponents are mesmerized by his small curlies before he delivers his patented crushing bodychecks. It's a shame the Wings didn't advance past the first round. How much bigger could it have gotten?
10 P.K. Subban
P.K. Subban’s beard may appear slightly sculpted and small at first glance, but delve deeper and it appears to be quite thick with a little curl. I don’t want to sound insane, but if Montreal goes far, he could be in the running for top beard.
Wait, did I just spend hours researching beards? Might be too late for sanity.
9 Jason Garrison
After signing with the home-town Canucks, Jason Garrison and his big contract were asked to leave town in a trade with Tampa. Well, here he is in the second-round with beard that looks like it’s already gone four rounds while the Canucks shave and cry. Garrison's Lightning are already two wins away from the next round and if the Lightning advance, there's no telling what his beard could do.
Godspeed Garrison’s beard, long may you roam.
8 Clayton Stoner
Clayton Stoner brings a hard-hitting physical presence to the Ducks third defensive pairing. And that’s why he can grow a hard-hitting physical beard; it’s simple science.
If Stoner was an undersized, puck-moving power play specialist, defensive liability then we wouldn’t expect much on the face. But he’s not, he’s a powerhouse, and his beard reflects it.
7 Marco Scandella
With a name like an Italian conqueror and the beard to match, Marco ranks high on our list. Sculpted and clean yet thick and formidable. With Chicago struggling to keep the puck out of the net we could see this beard grow as vast as the mother country.
That beard looks perfect to keep warm during those cold Minnesota winters.
6 Johnny Oduya
Johnny Oduya is a bit of a cheater as he’s been cultivating this beard throughout the regular season. However, we’ll list him to keep an eye on it. The Blackhawks have the potential to go all the way and this beard could go crazy.
Will he sculpt it for all four rounds or will it roam wild and free?
5 Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford is back in the net and his beard is looking strong. His play has caught up to his facial hair as he's collected a pair of wins in the first game of Round 2. Although a reporter asked if he thought he would get pulled after letting in three goals (the same amount he let in for his last pulling) and Crawford was visibly ticked.
The beards are strong in net for this team, and it could bode well for their chances.
4 Brandon Prust
When hockey season is over, Brandon Prust could easily get a job selling chainsaws. In fact, it looks like he would need a chainsaw to cut through that robust shag. He’s a tough character on the ice, and it shows on his face.
Although Prust’s beard is one of the favorites to win it all this year, his team unfortunately is not. If we want to see four rounds of Prust's beard, the Habs will need to pull off a miracle.
3 Scott Darling
Look at this guy’s face. Was there ever any doubt that he would perform well in the playoffs? When Chicago’s $6 million goalie Corey Crawford struggled early on, the Hawks pinned their hopes on a rookie. But that beard is no rookie. That is a playoff warrior beard. His scouting report should just be a picture of that beard and the word “playoffs”. Unfortunately for Darling, the beard power seemed to run out in Game 6 against Nashville as Crawford and his beard have taken over again.
2 Braden Holtby
Wow, look at this blue collar bush. Does he go tree-planting in the offseason? This is magnificent. Holtby and Lundqvist are showing the league that goalies are serious beard-growers. Maybe it’s the perfect conditions created by wearing the mask acting as a hothouse terrarium. There could be lizards living in that beard.
This is a serious civil war beard. The best part is, they're competing against each other in the same series (which has been the best of the second round). Maybe we can call him Bearden Holtby, or Braden Holtbeard.
1 Patrick Maroon
How does he handle living in Anaheim with a forest like that attached to his face? He's at the beginning of the second round and looks like he's spent a winter trapping wild animals in the frozen tundra. He looks like he arrived at the game via canoe, that he hollowed out himself from the same oak trees he built his log cabin with.
Patrick Maroon is the biggest and bushiest right now and with Anaheim looking like they'll go far we could be inducting his beard into the Hall of Fame.