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Ottawa Senator Chris Neil jumps to screen a shot as Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markovlooks on during third period NHL hockey action Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens in Ottawa Wednesday January 30, 2013. (The Canadian Press)

Ottawa Senator Chris Neil jumps to screen a shot as Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markovlooks on during third period NHL hockey action Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens in Ottawa Wednesday January 30, 2013.

(The Canadian Press)

Eastern conference standings tease ratings gold for the CBC Add to ...

Might hearts at the CBC executive offices be palpitating a little today at the sight of the NHL's Eastern conference standings?

They might.

Were the season to end today, the first round playoff matchups in the east would pit the Montreal Canadiens against the Ottawa Senators and the Winnipeg Jets against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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It would be the first time in nearly a decade that two first-round series would be all-Canadian affairs (and given the CBC has dibs on first-round matchups, they would certainly avail themselves of such ratings gold.)

In 2004, just prior to the last lockout, the Sens and Leafs went to seven games in their first round series.

In the west, the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames also went to the limit.

More recent experience has shown that the fall's labour disruption hasn't exactly been catastrophic for television ratings.

But this?

Imagine the buzz were the theoretical possibility that the Leafs and Habs meet in the conference semis or finals comes to pass.

It would be the first time since the late 1970s that the teams had met in the playoffs - and it would be crazy.

Much can happen over the final 15 or so games of the season, and there's every chance that one or more Canadian teams will slide out of contention.

But for now, television programmers and fans should allow themselves to dream, if only a little.

 

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