Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Scotiabank Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: TVAS. SNO, SUN
Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets
Well, if Wednesday’s practice was any indication, all signs point (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) to Brayden Point making his much-earlier-than-anticipated return from injury and season debut tonight. Point centered a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, was on the Bolts top power play unit at practice, and didn’t look at all out of place. Plus, Gemel Smith’s demotion to Syracuse earlier this week was a further sign that Point was ready for game action.
His return couldn’t come at a better time, either, as the Bolts have struggled out of the gate in three games with only three points and one regulation win. They were completely overrun by the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday and don’t look at all like the team that steamrolled over their opponents last season. Their first meeting against the Toronto Maple Leafs may be early in the season, but games against divisional rivals are always important.
Meanwhile, the Leafs have had an up-and-down start to their season with a 2-1-1 record. Despite some very major changes to their blueline, it looks as though their defensive issues have lingered and already proven somewhat costly early on. They held a 2-1 lead against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday before the Blues came back to win in regulation. That was preceded by a blown 4-1 lead and shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
With Braydon Coburn mixing in on the blueline at practice yesterday and the Bolts only having 12 healthy forwards up currently, there was some talk about whether or not they would call up another forward from Syracuse in time for tonight’s game. We could also see them play 11 forwards and 7 defenseman, but with Point potentially making his season debut tonight, that may not be the best course of action.
Tonight’s game marks the third of a six game road trip for the Lightning, who left Amalie Arena after the first game of the season and won’t return until October 19th. Both teams are well-rested and looking to rebound from stinging losses several days ago. It should be an entertaining and fast-paced affair, and it will be great to have Point back in the lineup.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Mathieu Joseph - Tyler Johnson - Yanni Gourde
Patrick Maroon - Carter Verhaeghe - Luke Witkowski
Injured: Cedric Paquette
Victor Hedman - Braydon Coburn
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Kevin Shattenkirk
Toronto Maple Leafs
Andreas Johnsson - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Kasperi Kapanen - John Tavares - Mitchell Marner
Ilya Mikheyev - Alexander Kerfoot - Trevor Moore
Nic Petan - Jason Spezza - Frederik Gauthier
Scratched: Nick Shore, Dmytro Timashov
Injured: Zach Hyman
Morgan Rielly - Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin - Tyson Barrie
Rasmus Sandin - Justin Holl
Scratched: Martin Marincin
Injured: Travis Dermott