Tampa Bay Lightning star Brayden Point (lower body) is in line to return to Game 1, but ‘we still have to see’

DENVER – Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Cooper said things are leaning toward a Brayden Point return to the first game lineup of Wednesday night’s Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche.

“If it’s not tomorrow, we’re really expecting the second game. But we’ll see how it will be tomorrow,” Cooper said on Tuesday.

Point suffered a lower body injury after just 5 minutes, 51 seconds of icy time in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14. He was disqualified from their next nine matches before becoming a match-time decision in Game Six, when Lightning eliminated the New York Rangers.

“There’s a chance (he plays),” Cooper said. “The last series, if it’s going to go deeper, we thought maybe (he could play), but we wouldn’t pay anything. It’s all about how he feels. He felt good today.”

Point agreed that it was too early to cement him into the squad for the first game. “We’ll still see. I don’t think anything is guaranteed. It was fun being there with the team and being a part of it,” Point said, speaking during the Stanley Cup Final media day.

Pointe said that when he left the ice in Game Seven against Toronto, there was no concern that his season was over. But in the short term, he was visibly frustrated that he couldn’t keep up against Toronto.

“The seventh game is a ‘do or die’ situation for the team. You don’t want to feel like you’re leaving the fight,” he said.

The fact that Lightning has won eight out of 10 games in his absence, and made a third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Final, eased his frustration a bit.

“It was tough. You want to be there. That’s why we play, to play at this time of year. But the team was playing so well that it made it easy to just focus on rehab and trying to recover,” he said.

Point was working up a bit, finally joining his teammates for full practices. He’s skated with strikers Nick Paul and Ross Colton recently, which may be an indication that Cooper intends to bring him back into the squad, rather than bring him back into a major offensive role.

“Bryden Point is an elite player in this league and will play his minutes according to how he responds,” Cooper said. “It’s hard not to play and then jump right into the Stanley Cup Final. A lot of it will relate to how he feels. I wouldn’t rate Pointer going to the bench very much. If he’s healthy, he’ll be there.”

Point admitted that returning to the pace of the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t be easy.

“Anytime you come back, you can’t repeat the timing of a hockey match in a match and unless it’s done. That doesn’t happen. It would be an adjustment for sure,” he said. “But it’s the playoffs. You have to do everything you can to be a positive addition to your team.”

Point earned four points in seven games in the opening round. No player has scored more goals (30) than Point during the past three seasons in the NHL. He has 60 points in 53 games during that period.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.