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10. Bring on the Beard: It’s going to be a grueling 2 months until mid-June. Get the grizzle going now so it’s in prime form by the time the best trophy in sports makes its holy annual appearance.

9. Game Plan: Unfortunately as the playoffs get started life outside of hockey will continue and others will expect you to participate in your normal functions like work, non-hockey gatherings, and family functions. Have your excuses prepared ahead of time so you don’t get stuck somewhere and wind up missing the action.

Pro tip – A “minor surgery” should take you out of work for a few weeks, and irritable bowels is definitely a reason to be near a bathroom (TV) in your own home as opposed to at dinner with the in-laws.

8. Budget: Some nights you’re going to want head to down the bar with the boys to catch the action. Double overtime can strain the wallet. Make sure you’ve been socking away the change, and know where your kids keep their piggy banks just in case.

7. Cooperate: The early rounds will have multiple games on at the same time. You can’t properly watch both on the same TV, and you won’t always make it to your local sports bar. Team up with a neighbor (preferable one that has all access cable or the Center Ice package) and get multiple TVs going in your man cave.

6. Play Through the Pain: It’s the playoffs so celebratory head-butts, keg stand mishaps, and even upset stomachs due to nerves (or other reasons) will happen. The injuries that result are inevitable, but NOT A GOOD REASON to miss a shift. Have the supplies you need to keep yourself in the game handy and ready to go!

5. Line Up: It’s that time of year where every man on the roster can have an impact. Make sure you have your best line up ready to go for the biggest games. As hockey diehards we all like to spread the gospel of the world’s greatest sport. But game 7 of your team’s opening round is no time to have to explain offsides to your new buddy from the softball league you just joined. More importantly, make sure on these nights you’ve got a crew with good chemistry!

4. Experience Matters: You know what cost you precious game time in the past. You also know what helped you to be there through some of the greatest Stanley Cup runs in history. Rely on your experience.

3. Add a Veteran: If your Stanley Cup run has just never unfolded to perfection, now is the time to turn to veteran leadership. Don’t let another season slip away without figuring out the formula. Reach out to someone who you know has numbers 10 through 3 down to a science and follow their leadership!

2. Stock Up: We’ve talked about OT games, and having to make changes on the fly. The Stanley Cup comes in its own time. You need to be fully stocked with your favorite brew! During the Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup run the entire city of Edmonton suffered an alcohol shortage. Make sure you have an ample storage and alternate supply lines of your go to beverage.

1. Celebrate: Although the snow is just melting in many places, this is X-mas time for hockey fans. Starting now we get to partake in the most intense hockey on the planet, played by the best players in the world. No other sports championship tournament brings it like the Stanley Cup Playoffs! So enjoy our game and celebrate responsibly.