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 1

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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