( Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach / Getty Images )

By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn

The playoffs are finally here! After 82 games of grinding out wins in the regular season, it is time to turn our attention to the most critical time of the year. While this season was historical, with the Bruins setting a new all-time single-season wins and points record with 65 and 135, respectively, none of that will matter if they fail to bring home the Stanley Cup.

Hockey has some of the best playoff traditions in any sport, but some are exclusive to being a player. For example, whether or not a team touches the Prince of Wales trophy is not something we, as fans, get to chime in on. This is also a critical year for superstitions because it may be Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci’s final run at the Cup. If we don’t do everything right this year, my fellow fanatics, we may not have another chance to help these guys bring home the trophy! Here are a couple of things you can do at home to bring some good luck to the team – if you believe in that sort of thing.

Playoff Beards

If you have the ability to grow a beard, this is one of the best superstitions hockey has. However, it may be more complicated than you might think. Typically, tradition says that you cannot shave your beard from the start of the playoffs. Doing so will bring your favorite team lousy luck and may even contribute to them being eliminated. We saw a great example of this in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final when Roberto Luongo infamously shaved his beard before falling to our beloved Bruins in seven games.

The caveat I want to bring up is the intersection of another superstition. I’ll leave it up to each individual to decide which they believe more strongly in, but as I likely don’t need to remind anyone, the Bruins have not won the Cup since that 2011 series against the Canucks. A common superstition is never to change a winning routine. So, for someone like myself who could not grow a beard in 2011, the question is: Do you grow a beard because it’s a hockey tradition? Or do you stay clean-shaven because that’s how you were in 2011?

I’m not sure there’s a correct answer to this question. I do think the playoff beard superstition is probably stronger for a player than for a fan. If I had grown a beard in 2011 and shaved it at the same time as Luongo shaved his, I think his shaving would have overpowered mine and canceled it out. Of course, there is no science to this – it’s a superstition, after all – but it can be a fun way to show support for your favorite team.

Lucky Gear/Routine

This can work in a variety of different ways. Perhaps there’s a lucky pair of socks you wear on game day, a lucky jersey you wear while watching the game, or a specific meal you cook that usually ends with a Bruins win that night. Whatever the case, if you do something for game one and the Bruins win, you are legally obligated to do the same thing until they lose!

Obviously, I’m kidding. You are not legally obligated to repeat the same routine to ensure a Bruins victory. You are, however, morally and ethically responsible if you stray from the routine and they lose (joking again). Similar to the playoff beards, this can be a fun way to feel involved.

My personal favorite way to participate in this effort is to pick a jersey and hat combo and then wear them while watching the games until a loss. If the Bruins win a series, the bad luck resets, so anything I wore during a loss gets reentered into the pool of available items, but I always start with whatever I wore for the clinching game of the previous series. Try it out for yourself!

Ultimately, the result of this year’s playoff run will come down to the players. This team has the best chance to win the championship of any Bruins team I’ve ever seen. If they do, it will cement them in history as the greatest team to ever play in the NHL. No one will be able to argue that fact. As fans, I’m sure we all wish we could truly be a part of the team. Hopefully, using these superstitions I’ve provided when Bergeron lifts the Cup over his head, we can feel like we contributed, even if it’s just in a supporting role.