Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Slowly, professional sports leagues have been navigating a way to return to play in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Saturday, the NHL will lace up the skates once again.
Fans got a taste of pro hockey on Tuesday and Wednesday with exhibition games, but qualifiers for the 24-team playoff setup begin in earnest at the weekend.
You would be excused for having lingering confusion over how what the NHL is calling the "competitive format" for the playoffs will work. There is a round robin, a qualifying round, first and second rounds and, finally, the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.