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Brayden Point’s status for Game One is ‘Highly Doubtful’

The injury will force Coach Cooper to mix his lines up early in the series

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Six Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Following the Tampa Bay Lightning’s short practice at Amalie Arena before the team departs for Sunrise later today, Coach Jon Cooper spoke with the media. He was asked about the status of center Brayden Point and his response was less than ideal:

Point, the “engine” of the Lightning’s offense suffered a lower-body injury in Game Seven against the Toronto Maple Leafs and was unable to finish the game. He twisted awkwardly along the boards as he chased down a puck and appeared to be in agony as he was helped off the ice. In the second period he took one shift where he was in obvious discomfort before heading to the bench for the rest of the game.

For the Lightning it’s a huge loss as Point has been extremely productive over the past few postseasons, netting 56 points (28 goals, 28 assists) in the two Stanley Cup runs. This season he put up 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in six-plus games against the Leafs. He also adds a defensive quality that is hard to match. Against Auston Matthews at 5v5 Natural Stat Trick had Point posting a 53.75% edge in Shot Attempts. When Point was off the ice and Matthews was on, that shot attempt share plummeted to 36% for the Lightning.

During the practice the Tampa Bay Lightning lines were a little different then what they rolled out against Toronto:

It’s likely that Zach Bogosian was just filling in for Corey Perry on the fourth line. Perry should be ready to go for Game One according to Coach Cooper. For the practice the team basically inserted Riley Nash into the third line and then bumped up Nick Paul and Cirelli, keeping the School Bus Line intact.

Paul was excellent on the third line against Toronto, scoring twice in Game Seven. If this change holds the newly constituted second line could be an important dual-threat line for the Lightning as they try to match the Florida Panthers’ depth on forward. It is possible that Coach Cooper decides to go with an 11-forward/7-defensmen line-up in Game One, allowing him to mix-and-match his forwards throughout the game.

Jan Rutta, who hasn’t appeared since being bloodied in a Game One fight, was skating with Mikhail Sergachev on the third pairing at practice.

Game One is Tuesday at 7:00 PM EST in Sunrise.