TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he expects to play Game 6 with the same lineup as Game 5, meaning center Brayden Point will miss their fourth straight game in the Stanley Cup Finals becomes.
Point again ran with the team ahead of Game 6 Sunday night in Tampa, with the Colorado Avalanche leading the series 3-2.
“It’s extremely difficult for everyone involved because everyone cares so much. But there is no animosity or anything like that. It’s just difficult conversations because everyone wants the same thing,” Cooper said.
Point missed the Lightning’s second and third round victories with a lower body injury sustained in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14. He returned in the Stanley Cup Finals, playing the first two games in Denver. He grabbed an assist in their Game 1 loss, but clearly didn’t have the same explosive skating that defined him with the Lightning. The team scraped him in the last three games, replacing him in the lineup with Riley Nash.
Cooper said it has been difficult for Point, who has the will to play but remains handicapped by the injury.
“It’s difficult because players are used to playing a certain way. If they don’t feel safe playing at the caliber they’re used to, it almost works against them,” Cooper said. “It’s unfortunate because it’s a serious injury and at this time of year everyone is trying to get back into the lineup and there’s just some things you can’t do. If you can’t do what you’re used to doing, it’s tough for a player.”
The Lightning coach left open the possibility that Point, who has scored more goals (30) than any other player in the past three postseasons, could return to the lineup Tuesday for a potential Game 7 in Denver.
“He’s still stuck here rehabilitating and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes another game, you never know. It’s tough for these guys because they’re such competitors,” Cooper said.
The Avalanche are also watching injuries, with coach Jared Bednar leaving the door open for strikers Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin to play in Sunday’s potential cup final.
Bednar said “we’ll see” that Burakovsky returns to the series for the first time since leaving Game 2 with an injury. The coach was more positive about Nichushkin, who left Game 5 with a right leg injury, saying the team “hopes he’ll be there.”
ESPN’s Kristen Shilton contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/34151631/tampa-bay-lightning-brayden-point-miss-fourth-straight-stanley-cup-final-game Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point to miss fourth straight Stanley Cup Final game