After fighting through the first two contests of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, Brayden Point won’t play for the Lightning in Game 3 against the Colorado Avalanche.
In Point’s absence, it looks like Riley Nash draws back into the Lightning lineup.
Briefly during Game 2, the Lightning loaded up with Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov. That didn’t stick, and nothing was really stopping the Avs. (Though the Lightning have to hope that a change of venue [and altitude] may change the pace.]
To start, the Lightning appear to roll with a top line of Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos, and Nikita Kucherov. Matchups-wise, it’s relevant to watch how that line approaches things, along with the defensive-minded trio of Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn, and Brandon Hagel. Riley Nash takes on fourth-line duty.
While the Lightning lack Brayden Point for Game 3, the Avalanche deal with their own injury challenges. Nazem Kadri is not yet ready to return (if he even will during the 2022 Stanley Cup Final). Andre Burakovsky‘s also out for Game 3.
Lightning will obviously miss Brayden Point in Game 3, but injury absence makes sense
Heading into the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, it made sense to view one big thing swinging Tampa’s way. That was an injury return. While the Avs lack Kadri, the Lightning were getting Point back.
Of course, if you’re like me, a question lingered. “Sure, they’re getting Brayden Point back, but will he be anywhere near 100% for the Lightning?”
At times during Game 1, you could see the skill. Limited mobility doesn’t totally counteract high hockey IQ. (Just look at Leon Draisaitl‘s incredible playoff production through pain.)
Yet, mobility is a big part of Point’s game. Against a swarming Avalanche team, Point and the Lightning were really fighting it.
Normalize players getting surgery instead of playing through injuries that clearly require surgery https://t.co/eylTWraGvj
— James O'Brien 📎 (@cyclelikesedins) June 20, 2022
Maybe it’s best for Point to rest. Perhaps it’s wisest just to shut him down entirely until next season. We’ll see how that plays out as this series goes on, but he’s at least unavailable for Game 3.