There are few certainties in life, and even fewer in sports. All the Las Vegas odds in the world don't mean jack once the puck drops, the tip-off goes down or the green flag is waived.
That's what makes traditions and patterns so special. Yes, that's why playoff beards are so revered.
From the 15-year-old kids who can barely grow stubble to the 41-year-old NHLer just looking for one more crack at Stanley Cup greatness, playoff time is synonymous with wild and crazy facial hair. The tradition harks back to the great New York Islanders teams of the 1980s.
After winning four straight Cups, the Isles must have been doing something right, after all.
Rick Nash was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002 and became the face of the franchise. Sadly, the Jackets were an aimless and drifting organization at that point and Nash only managed to see playoff action one time in nine years.
In that one instance, his team was swept out of the first round by the Detroit Red Wings.
More than a decade after entering the league, Nash was finally able to grow a playoff beard with the New York Rangers.
For that, he makes the cut at No. 10 on this list.
It's a shame that the odds are against the Chicago Blackhawks in their series with the Detroit Red Wings after going down 3-1 in Game 4. There is still hope for the Presidents' Trophy-winning 'Hawks after they won Game 5, which means that there is still a chance to see how radical Johnny Oduya's beard could get.
This has the potential to reach Mike Commodore-like proportions of ridiculousness, and that is in no way a bad thing. That lands Oduya at No. 9.
Not for what it is now, but for what it could become. If the Los Angeles Kings make another run to the Stanley Cup Final, there are two guarantees:
- Jonathan Quick will play out of his mind
- Rob Scuderi will grow an immaculate playoff beard along the way
Is there a Scott Niedermayer-quality beard lurking beneath the surface for Jaromir Jagr? It's hard to tell for sure, as it's been a long time since Jags has taken a run at the Stanley Cup, but the chance is there.
It's just a gut feeling, but scoring a goal or two in these playoffs would do a world of good for this mane. Upon scoring, he might even storm out to center ice and spontaneously grow it an inch just to celebrate.
(Spontaneous beard growing is a thing, right?)
It's a known fact that Letang's beard only grows after games in which he's scored at least a point during the playoffs, which is why it looks like he had a week-long head start on the rest of the NHL.
Patrice Bergeron is the one in the pinkish-purple tie.
Oh. That doesn't seem to narrow it down at all—he's the one closest to the camera in the pinkish-purple tie.
Those stylish Boston Bruins! They hang us up every time.
When he's not busy out on the ice performing late-game heroics, Bergeron spends his free time meditating and channeling all of his positive energy into this remarkably even and well-groomed playoff beard.
Joe Thornton is in the midst of redefining his playoff persona while guiding the San Jose Sharks to a decisive Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings. He's also clearly having a "who can grow the most grisly playoff beard" contest with teammates Dan Boyle and Brent Burns.
In this rare instance in Thornton's career, second out of three ain't bad.
Dustin Byfuglien 2.0 has been growing a wicked beard since the lockout began, and he hasn't lost any facial-hair momentum since then.
Burns' wild beard is one of the best the league has seen in recent memory, but it's no match for the power of the Swede.
The NHL seems to have an embargo against the Detroit Red Wings, refusing to ship any offseason hardware (that isn't related to Pavel Datsyuk being a thief) to the franchise.
Winning the illustrious and elite "Best Beard of the Playoffs (so far)" award might not make up for that, but it beats a blank.
Congratulations, Z. You deserve it.