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Lightning Round: Brayden Point out for Game Four

Despite signs of him being back on the ice, his return won’t come tonight.

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

They keep teasing us with that footage of Brayden Point, often shot on a cell phone through the glass, skating around the ice. He’s working on random drills, often with few other skaters around, moving at half-speed, but still moving.

While he is nowhere near game speed, it seems every day we see new footage, he’s moving faster, looking more like the Brayden Point we’ve known over the last few years. On Monday, Coach Cooper confirmed that Tuesday will not be the day Point returns.

As someone who packed his Point jersey for the game tonight in the vain hope that he would come back, let me say I’m somewhat disappointing. The practical side of my brain says that he isn’t close to returning, that we would be lucky if there was even a hint of him being available as early as a Game Seven. Yet, the primitive, cave-person/fan side says, if he’s on the ice he’s good to go!

We, probably as well as any fanbase, have learned patience over the years when it comes to superstars coming back from injuries. From Steven Stamkos’ blood clot, to Steven Stamkos’ core injury, to Nikita Kucherov’s lower-body injuries, we are practiced in the art of tracking a player’s return by the actions taken on ice. What we see now from Point is an early stage of feeling things out, testing the leg, and seeing how it responds the next day.

Soon we’ll see him skating closer to full speed with sudden stops and starts, then he’ll be joining his mates (probably in a non-contact jersey) for off-day practices and more morning skates. Then a pre-game warm-up lap or two. Finally, the announcement that he’s back in the line-up.

Of course, the key to all of this is for his teammates to keep extending the season long enough for him to complete all of those steps. A win tonight sure would help out with that.

Lightning / NHL News

Lightning show life in pivotal Game Three [Raw Charge]

There was progress in the Lightning’s game on Sunday. Yet, much work is left to be done.

If Lightning are to survive, Vasilevskiy needs to be the difference [Tampa Bay Times]

From Day One of this current run of playoff success Vasilevskiy has needed to be the difference, why would now be any different?

Otto Somppi heading overseas [raumanlukko.fi]

The 24-year-old forward appears to be heading back to the Liiga and will be playing for Lukko next season. It will be his second stint in that league as he played 9 games for the Pelicans in 2020-21 while waiting for the North American leagues to fire back up. Somppi will get a chance to play a little more (and get paid). With limited room to move up in the Tampa organization, it’s a solid move for him. As a RFA, as long as the Lightning tender him a contract in the summer, they’ll retain his rights for next season.

Rangers aim to compete at higher level in Game Four [NHL.com]

Other than Jacob Trouba’s endless desire to take bad penalties and an inability to finish at 5v5, the Rangers didn’t have that bad of a game on Sunday. They did, however, find out that the defending champions aren’t just going to roll over for them because New York won the first couple of games. “We’re going to have to take it from them” said head coach Gerard Gallant. Or, as Ric Flair would say, “to be the man, you gotta beat the man”.

Bruins fire Bruce Cassidy [Stanley Cup of Chowder]

A day after learning that half of their defense needed offseason surgery, the Bruins brain trust decided it was time to part ways with Cassidy, who had been behind the bench for the last six seasons and posted a .672 points percentage in 499 regular season games (245-108-46). They used the ol’ “benefit from a new voice” excuse for letting him go, so it’s going to be hilarious if they hire the coach Cassidy replaced - Claude Julien. (Actually, it will probably be Barry Trotz).

Kyle Conner wins the Lady Byng Trophy [Winnipeg Free Press]

The Winnipeg Jets forward won the “Nice Guy Who Scores Goals” award for the 2021-22 season. Good for him.

Nazem Kadri has thumb surgery, possibly out for the postseason [SportsNet]

While the team hasn’t officially ruled the forward out for the rest of the playoffs, but they also haven’t confirmed he will return. The injury occurred on the hit that resulted in a one-game suspension for Evander Kane.

Last Night’s Game

Colorado Avalanche 6, Edmonton Oilers 5 (OT)

Colorado wins the series 4:0

The Avalanche completed the sweep and stamped their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final (where they will have home ice advantage no matter who wins in the East. They came back from being down 4-2 to take a 5-4 lead in the third only to see Edmonton tie it late in the game with a Zack Kassian goal. Arturri Lehkonen won it in overtime to send them to the Final for the first time since 2001.