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The battle begins: Who had the best playoff beard of all time?

Anaheim Ducks player Scott Niedermayer lifts the Stanley Cup in 2007, while Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu practises during the playoffs in 2002. (Photos by Shaun Best/Reuters; Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)


UPDATE: We're down to the quarter-finals.

We're almost through Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the time of year when the players start to show their worth in another competition: the keeper of the best playoff beard.

There's was at least one surprise contender this year before his team was eliminated: Flyers veteran Jaromir Jagr sprouted a unique salt-and-pepper beard that made it hard to believe that 20 years ago, this guy sported flowing locks, a clean face and a sweater bearing the logo of that other Pennsylvania team.

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Meanwhile, in Nashville, Predators defenceman Kevin Klein decided to add a mohawk to his beard, and the trend spread along the team's blue line.

Globe and Mail readers have had their eyes on a larger swath of bearded contenders, and with more than a week of nominations on our website complete, we're ready to present the 16 finalists for the greatest playoff beard of all time. Two trends were especially notable during the nomination process: First, redheads grow some pretty great beards. Second, thanks to manicured goatees being in fashion and something of a rejection of the overall tradition, the '90s was a pretty weak decade for beards.

The matches so far:

Lanny McDonald (seed No. 1) vs. Jonathan Toews (seed No. 16)

Scott Niedermayer (seed No. 2) vs. Saku Koivu (seed No. 15)

Clark Gillies (seed No. 3) vs. Jean-Sebastien Giguere (seed No. 14)

Mike Commodore (seed No. 4) vs. Max Talbot (seed no. 13)

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Ken Daneyko (seed No. 5) vs. Dave Lowry (seed no. 12)

Zdeno Chara (seed no. 6) vs. Claude Giroux (seed no. 11)

Scott Hartnell (seed no. 7) vs. Henrik Zetterberg (seed no. 10)

Shea Weber (seed no. 8) vs. Paul Mara (seed no. 9)

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