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Let’s forget for a minute that I’m writing this from Canada and interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs, minus all seven Canadian-based teams, will be much lower than usual.

It needn’t be that way in the United States, and Canadian hockey fans will stay tuned in greater numbers if the NHL can provide solid entertainment. One way to do that is with the best possible matchups and the best matchups are, indeed, possible.

At the risk of starting a debate that leads nowhere, here are playoff series I would like to see, and series the NHL should want me to see.

Embedded Image1) Pittsburgh vs. Washington. Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Turn back the calendar to 2009’s second round, when Sid and the Penguins beat Alex and the Caps in seven games en route to the third Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh’s history. The Penguins would meet the Capitals in this year’s first round, if they qualify for the playoffs as the East’s second wild card team. Too many other scenarios are possible, so it probably won’t happen - in the first round, that is. Maybe in the second or third, or maybe Pittsburgh will miss the playoffs, although that is looking less likely after yesterday’s 7-2 thrashing of Detroit. Yes, too many scenarios.

2) Florida vs. Tampa Bay. Kevin Spacey might come. Jaromir Jagr wants to play until he’s as old as Kevin Spacey (56). The Panthers are the NHL’s Cinderella. There is already a rivalry in Florida, but how much bigger would it get?  Gary Bettman would smile. Roberto Luongo would tweet. The hockey would be great.

3) Anaheim vs. Los Angeles. With apologies to San Jose, the Sharks sort of get in the way of the real California hockey war. They would be all for it if they could finish first in the Pacific Division and watch a Ducks-Kings series in the first round. That possibility has all but vanished, however, so the Sharks will be trying to prevent an Anaheim-LA matchup in the second round.

4) St. Louis vs. Chicago. The defending champions should always have the spotlight on them, and the Blues should never lack for motivation when the Blackhawks are on the other bench. St. Louis has lost more playoff series to Chicago - eight of them - than to any other team since the Blues came into the NHL in the 1967 expansion. And though there are five other teams that have never won the Stanley Cup (Washington, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, and San Jose), the Blues are trying to break what is by far the longest such shutout. They face the added pressure that comes from first round exits in each of the past three years.

Embedded Image5) Islanders vs. Rangers. This should be number one, but it’s not. Maybe it’s the Brooklyn thing where the Islanders are concerned. You’d want their home games to be on Long Island for the sake of the good, old times. And before you can get as excited as should be possible for this matchup, the Islanders first have to make the playoffs. Still, it’s New York-New York, which, for some, beats a freeway series in California and a snowbird special in Florida.

So, “thumbs up” to these best possible matchups, one or more of which may be only a couple of weeks away.