You're not supposed to think about playoff matchups in December. You're not supposed to think about them at all, in fact, at least until they're set in stone. If you're a player, you're "looking ahead," which one of hockey's great sins. And if you're a fan, you know not to bother because the hockey gods will take away any matchup they catch you getting too excited about.
And yet, it was awfully hard not to start thinking ahead Tuesday night, as the NHL rolled out a busy nine-game schedule. All nine featured at least one team that went into the night holding down a playoff spot, with 11 such teams in action in total. We were facing the possibility of some great matchups, including great rivalries Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues-Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders-New York Rangers.
But we have the potential for something even more entertaining: chaos. Maximum chaos. It's going to happen one of these years, and this just might be the one.