For the first time since 2008, the Minnesota Wild have made the playoffs. You know what that means—it’s time for the playoff beard. Among all hockey traditions, aside from the right to touch the Cup, there is no more sacred a tradition that the playoff beard.
This will be an interesting postseason for Minnesota. It will be a daunting task, facing the best team in the NHL in Round One, but it’s going to be a lot of fun. That said, it’s time for a scouting report on the best potential playoff beards in Minnesota’s lineup.
Cal Clutterbuck – If Minnesota Wild facial hair is listed in the dictionary, its definition is Clutterbuck. His mustache growing skills are unparalleled in Minnesota’s system and his beard could be in the lead for best on the team. Projected Grade: A+
Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser – Minnesota’s beard growing corps took a heavy hit with the Brent Burns and Greg Zanon trades, luckily, Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser are there to pick up the slack. While not as “wild” and crazy as the other two, Stoner and Prosser’s beards are more than capable of stepping in and filling the gaping hole left on the back end. It’s important, too, because youngsters Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon will not reach their beard growing potential for a while yet. Projected Grades: B+/A-
Mike Rupp – There’s no better protection for a role playing, grinding forward than a thick beard, and that’s exactly what Rupp has grown. There’s really no more to be said. Projected Grade: A+
Matt Cullen – Finally, a beard that has gone the distance, fought the good fight and achieved the ultimate pinnacle of professional hockey—the Stanley Cup. If Minnesota and their beards are going to go far in the playoffs, it’ll be up to Cullen and his beard to lead the way. Projected Grade: A+
Perhaps the real question will be whether or not the recent acquisitions of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter’s beards will be up to the task of leading this team.
Suter – It was always thought that Suter’s beard was Robin to Shea Weber’s beard’s Batman. In Minnesota’s postseason run, Robin will have to strike out on his own as the Red Hood, but in a blonde/light brown color. Projected Grade: Holy B-, Batman!
Parise – Zach captained the New Jersey Devils to within two wins of the Stanley Cup last season with nothing but a soul patch and a thin trickle of hair down the jaw bone. It begs to question, if he had grown a full beard, would the Devils have won the Stanley Cup? Would he now be a member of the Minnesota Wild? This is all in good fun, but, as anyone can see, he’s clearly lacking in the playoff beard department. Projected Grade: D-
Mikko Koivu – Minnesota’s fearless leader is seldom seen with a beard. However, his profile picture does indicate there is an enormous amount of potential. Projected Grade: B
In The Pipeline
Zack Phillips – The 28th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is no stranger when it comes to playoff beards, first line winger Charlie Coyle can vouch for it. Phillips’ beard was on display when his Saint John Sea Dogs won the QMJHL championship in both 2011 and 2012 and also won the CHL’s Memorial Cup in 2011. This kid’s beard has the potential to be greater than the love child of Burns and Zanon’s beards. Now THAT’s scary. Projected Grade: Um…what’s higher than A+ times a million?
So what is there to get out of this? Not much, it’s all been in good fun. The point is, Minnesota is in the playoffs and Wild fans are just excited they have a team in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Should Wild fans expect to beat the Blackhawks and move on to Round Two? Realistically, no; however, if the Los Angeles Kings can beat the 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeds in the West before beating the New Jersey Devils in six games, so can Minnesota. We’ve gone from being the hunted, to being the hunters—we have nothing to lose and, if we play that way, it makes us very dangerous. This is definitely going to be a fun series to watch.