The Borg: SI's 2017 Beard Bracket

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Monday April 10th, 2017

Thanks to the New York Islanders of the early 1980s, playoff beards are engrained in the sport of hockey. Heading into the 2017 postseason, there’s a host of players who already have their game-ready looks, while there will be at least a couple of NHLers who give us some follicular follies to talk about.

With that in mind, we decided to let you, the fans, decide who has the best chin curtains around to take home the inaugural Borg award, named for tennis great Bjorn Borg, said to have influenced those Cup-winning Islanders who started the whole trend.

Here are the rules:

• One player from each 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff team.
• Said player must already have their beard at the start of the postseason.
• First-round match-ups are decided by real-life first-round playoff opponents. Matchups will follow the bracket thereafter.
• Voting takes place on Twitter—choose wisely!
• Share your vote with hashtag #SIBeardBracket!

The Borg: Round 2

Left: Martin Hanzal, Right: Ryan Ellis

Ryan Ellis (def. Scott Darling, 60-40)

In a battle that almost mirrored the on-ice results between the Blackhawks and Predators, Ryan Ellis took a big red victory over Scott Darling. The game is upped a notched in Round 2, but something tells us Ellis's face is up to the task.

Martin Hanzal (def. Kyle Brodziak, 53-47)

Kyle Brodziak's Blues got the real-life win, but Hanzal's mug takes the larger—and therefore more symbolic—victory. He'll see a stiffer challenge in the second round, but don't kid yourselves: this beard is here to play.

Left: Joe Thornton, Right: Patrick Eaves

Joe Thornton (def. Patrick Maroon, 78-22)

Jumbo Joe might have been playing on a wonky knee in the first round, but when it came to the beard bracket, it was smooth skating. The Sharks are done for the year, but Thornton's whiskers are ready for a heavyweight battle.

Patrick Eaves (def. T.J. Brodie, 72-28)

Let's be honest, this matchup wasn't exactly fair to Brodie. Look at Eaves's chin and you know that it was built for a competition like this. Of course, things get dicey in the second round, as the Ducks forward goes follicle-to-follicle with another big-time favorite.

Left: Braden Holtby, Right: Nick Bonino

Braden Holtby (def. Nazem Kadri 67-33)

Unfortunately for Kadri and the Maple Leafs, there wasn't much time to see if their beards could actually grow in. Holtby's victory was big, but there's not a whole lot of time to celebrate with another whisker war on the horizon.

Nick Bonino (def. Kyle Quincey, 64-36)

This bracket wasn't as close as we expected, as Bonino's Lincoln-style did a number on Kyle Quincey's lumberjack. While the Penguins prepare for a big-time matchup with Capitals, Bonino's bearded variety of big-time offense could help get him a little more screen time in the spotlight.

Left: Jordie Benn, Right: Erik Karlsson

Jordie Benn (def. Kevin Klein, 74-26)

Jordie Benn's masterpiece took one of the biggest Round 1 wins, and while Kevin Klein gets to play on in the postseason, Benn gets to concentrate on winning The Borg as a heavy favorite.

Erik Karlsson (def. Drew Stafford, 51-49)

The tightest victory in the opening round, Karlsson edged his way past Drew Stafford with a two-point margin of victory. His minimalist style is easy on the eyes and a little lighter on the skates, but the slick Swede will have to step things up a notch in the second round.

The Borg: Round 1

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Monday April 10th, 2017
Left: Jordie Benn (MTL), Right: Kevin Klein (NYR)

Jordie Benn: It’s thick, it’s luxurious, it’s probably well cared for with its own dedicated beard comb and a host of shampoos and oils.

Kevin Klein: It’s a workman-like effort. There’s nothing flashy here. Much like Klein, this beard is a solid, versatile contributor.

Left: Braden Holtby (WSH), Right: Nazem Kadri (TOR)

Braden Holtby: Does any goalie have a better beard? The Capitals netminder gets props for working with a mask full of facial hair on a nightly basis, but that mask also keep it hidden from the public.

Nazem Kadri: Thanks to the Maple Leafs’ clean-cut image, there’s a lack of beards on the roster. Kadri’s scruff is the closest thing in the Six, and it’ll be interesting to see if it gets the chance to turn into whiskers.

Left: Nick Bonino (PIT), Right: Kyle Quincey (CBJ)

Nick Bonino: You can’t go wrong with a good ole Abe Lincoln. Not only is it presidential, but this beard is ready for the springtime spotlight, just like its owner.

Kyle Quincey: This is a beard that was built over time, turning itself into a strong contender. It's solid and flys under the radar—but maybe not for long.

Left: Drew Stafford (BOS), Right: Erik Karlsson (OTT)

Drew Stafford: One of the things Stafford brought to the Bruins at the trade deadline was a pretty legit beard. It looks like it could get pretty unruly if Boston makes a playoff run, though isn’t that the spirit of the season?

Erik Karlsson: This minimalist goatee is exactly what you’d expect from the slick-skating Swede. No muss, no fuss, just a good, clean time.

Left: Ryan Ellis (NSH), Right: Scott Darling (CHI)

Scott Darling: He enters the postseason as the No. 2 behind Blackhawks starter Corey Crawford, but Darling’s beard is ready for the limelight. There’s a lumberjack quality to this masterpiece, and Darling's prime seat on the Chicago bench gives him plenty of time to stroke his chin.

Ryan Ellis: Not only is this beard a thing of beauty, bit it also completes coordinates perfectly with those yellow Predators uniforms. That has to count for something. 

Left: Joe Thornton (SJS), Right: Patrick Maroon (EDM)

Joe Thornton: This beard has seen some things. Earlier this season, Sharks coach Peter DeBoer gave Thornton’s facial follicles the nod over Brent Burns’s, thanks to that distinctive (distinguished?) gray stripe. 

Patrick Maroon: There’s something to be said for a clean, finely manicured beard, and that’s what you get here. That maintenance factor gives Maroon a polished lumberjack look.

Left: Martin Hanzal (MIN). Right: Kyle Brodziak (STL)

Martin Hanzal: Another in the Abe Lincoln category, Hanzal’s beard adds some extra edge to his 6-foot-6 frame. Would you want to tangle with him in the corner? Didn’t think so.

Kyle Brodziak: Just like its Blues forward owner, this beard keeps it simple. It’s not flashy, not is it trying to be something it’s not. You know just what you’re getting, night in, night out.

Left: Patrick Eaves (ANA), Right: T.J. Brodie (CGY)

Patrick Eaves: With a beard like this, you expect Eaves to carry a pocket watch, wear spats over his skates and drink only the craftiest of craft beer. 

T.J. Brodie: This is what you want at the start of the playoffs: A good base with a lot of room to grow. It's a starter kit for playing into June.

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