The Tampa Bay Lightning are off to a slow start to the 2019-20 NHL season, but will get back a big piece of their offense Thursday night. Brayden Point has been cleared to return to the lineup and will make his season debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Point, who signed a three-year, $20.25 million contract in September, has yet to play in any of the Lightning’s first three games as he recovered from offseason hip surgery. GM Julien BriseBois said last month that the expectation was the 23-year-old forward would return later this month. This is a nice surprise for a team that needs to get going.
“We’ve all watched him play, he’s one of the guys that drives the bus for us,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper earlier this week. “You miss players like that when they’re gone.”
Tampa is hoping to begin trending upward following a 1-1-1 start. After their overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, a loss that saw the Lightning go without a shot for over 25 minutes, Stamkos called his team out.
“We just continue to be the freewheeling team that thinks we can just come into games and win because we’re skilled,” he said. “We keep falling back into the same old bad habits that we’ve been doing, that cost us the season we had last year. Unless we change things, it’s going to be a really, really, really long year.”