Now that Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks are power sliding into the second round of the NHL playoffs, after beating Los Angeles in six gut-wobbling games, it’s time to discuss a matter of great importance: playoff beards. Not all are created equal. But even if readers haven’t been cultivating their facial curls, there’s still time to stop being such a prude and get patchy.

According to legend, the playoff beard was a tool handed down from mighty Zeus to a lonely Canadian in the wilderness. The man dreamt of walking fast on frozen water and thought it would be wise to attach long razor blades to his feet. The playoff beard was the only device by which the man’s face wouldn’t freeze as he raced quickly across the great divide to unite the nations. (Legend also says that along with the playoff beard, the man carried a stick to clear the ice and whap snarling animals in the face. Over time, this act evolved into a game that is now known as hockey. Go ahead and Wiki that if you don’t believe me.)

Unfortunately, the meaning behind the playoff beard has been diluted in these commercial times, and now people believe it just means hockey players don’t shave until their team is out of the playoffs. It’s sad, really.

It’s no wonder then that Thornton—a man whose playoff beard should never be questioned again after his Game 6 overtime goal propelled the Sharks to their third sudden-death victory of the opening series—has a facial pelt so fierce it makes grizzly bears question their sexuality. Others, like San Jose center Kyle Wellwood, have more wispy efforts, but the unquenchable desire of their playoff beards resides deep within their furrowed faces.

The Sharks now have a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings looming in the second-round distance like a pale figure walking in from the outskirts of town. As of press time, the dates for the first two games of the series, which will be here in San Jose, have yet to be determined. There was

Anyone who says local fans won’t get up for a series against Detroit, a team the Sharks bounced out of the playoffs last year but have twice been eliminated by in the past, is telling bald-faced lies. The Red Wings are the Yankees on skates. They’re the Lakers on ice, only white and not freakishly tall. The only thing worse than a Red Wings player or coach is a Red Wings fan—honestly, how deranged do people have to be to carry around octopi in their pants? Is it any wonder they sound like they’re speaking squeaky German if the Red Wings are still scoreless in the third period?

San Jose is now 12 wins away from glory, and the playoff beard will only grow stronger with time. As Sharks coach Todd McLellan, a man whose gray beard hints at wisdom and absolute stress, recently said, “We don’t do anything easy.” Nothing worth doing ever is.