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NHL West qualifier preview: Storylines to watch

Welcome back, hockey fans! This surely has been the strangest season of our lifetimes, but after a four-month break, the NHL has figured out a plan to keep players, staff, media, and all other labourers involved safe amid an active global pandemic.

Prior to the pause, the 2019-20 NHL season was shaping up to be one of the best years in recent memory, a potential demarcation point between the league’s established powers and a new wave of young, up-and-comers.

Because of the pandemic, this year’s playoff format is different: the top four seeds in each conference - that would be the Blues, Golden Knights, Avalanche and Stars in the West - will play a round robin to determine seeding for the next round, while the 5-12 seeds will play a best-of-five series, before the playoffs resume its usual best-of-seven format.