It's the most wonderful time of the year.
Yes, with only a handful of games remaining for each team in the NHL regular season, it's the time where fans and players alike not only direct their focus on where their team currently sits in the playoff picture, but where their beloved club could end up come playoff time.
With the postseason right around the corner it's certainly not too soon to start thinking about possible first-round matchups and the potential dream series we could have the pleasure of watching come the second season in April.
Any playoff series is worth witnessing for the average hockey fan, but when the two teams that are matched up have some added flair between them it can turn into the kind of series that people simply can't take their eyes off of.
Whether it be a classic rivalry, an ugly history between two players, the potential for a subsequent event to carry over into a bloodbath of a series, or simply two high-powered offenses squaring off in what promises to be a goalie's nightmare, sometimes we're blessed with a first-round playoff clash that’s worth canceling out the rest of the lives for.
If even one of these series were to take place it would be reason enough to reserve your favourite seat at the bar for the foreseeable future, think up the finest excuse that explains to your wife or mother why you refuse to shave, and learn the most effective way to fit the letters of Ilya Kovalchuk’s name on the bare chests of just five friends.
So here are the best matchups that have a realistic chance of happening in the first-round this season. We could be in for a scene that would have NHL fans licking their chops at the incredible hockey presented to kick-start the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.