By Justin Adams

DENVER (CBS4)– Hockey is coming back and Nathan Mackinnon is feeling like a kid in a candy store. The NHL announced on Tuesday its plans to resume play under a 24-team playoff format.

The regular season would be over and the tournament would begin with a 16-team, eight-series Qualifying Round and a Round Robin tournament among the top four teams in each conference to determine the seeds for the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The 12 qualifying teams from each conference were determined by the points percentage when play was paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche waits for a faceoff in the third period of a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 23, 2019 in Las Vegas.

Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche waits for a faceoff in the third period of a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 23, 2019 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Avalanche will play in the Round Robin with the other top four teams in the West as they finished with a 42-20-7 record and in second place, just behind the St. Louis Blues. Mackinnon is happy he and his teammates will have a chance to shake off the rust before the playoffs begin.

“I’m glad that we don’t get a bye,” Mackinnon said on TSN. “I’m glad we’re not sitting around watching teams play. I mean, that’s a big layoff. They would have a huge advantage.”

In the Round Robin, Colorado will play the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights. The Avs were 4-6 in the regular season against these teams.

DENVER, COLORADO – DECEMBER 13: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche brings the puck down the ice against Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils in the second period at the Pepsi Center on December 13, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“It’s great that we can play some meaningful games against the top teams in the west for seeding,” MacKinnon said. “I think that’s a pretty good format how they’re doing it. There is no perfect way. Everybody had to get creative and it seems like a good place to start.”

The NHL didn’t announce a date for when or where the games would take place, but are targeting mid-July for when training camps would begin.

Justin Adams

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