Tampa Bay Lightning star forward Brayden Point is seemingly nearing his return from the lower-body injury he suffered during Game 7 of the first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14 that kept him sidelined for the past 10 contests.
That does not, however, necessarily mean Point will take the ice for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday evening.
It was learned Monday that Point had rejoined practice with the full team for the first time since his injury, and Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters Tuesday that “there’s a chance” the 26-year-old could be in the lineup for Wednesday’s series opener.
“It’s all about how he feels,” Cooper explained, according to Tom Gulitti of the NHL’s website. “He felt pretty good today. We’ll see how he responds tomorrow, but things are leaning towards him playing. And if it’s not tomorrow, really anticipate Game 2.”
Game 2 of the series is Saturday night in Denver. Game 3 will take place Monday evening in Florida.
Point contributed two goals and two assists during the postseason series against Toronto after he accumulated 28 goals and 30 assists across 66 regular-season games in 2021-22.
“Brayden Point is, he’s an elite player in this league and he will play his minutes accordingly of how he’s responding,” Cooper added during his comments. “It’s tough not to play and then jump right into a Stanley Cup Playoff game, a Stanley Cup Final game … but I wouldn’t classify that ‘Pointer’ is going to be sitting on the bench a whole lot if he’s healthy.”