NHL Stanley Cup Final 2022: Odds, Hot Takes, Top Storylines for Game 1June 15, 2022
The Tampa Bay Lightning could receive a boost for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche.
Brayden Point is progressing toward playing at the start of the NHL championship series after being out for a month with a lower-body injury he suffered in the first round of the playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The center's presence on the ice would help Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Co. counter what the Avalanche throw at them throughout the series.
Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and the Avs should have the overall edge in Game 1 because of their rest and home ice. They swept the Edmonton Oilers to earn a week off between the final two rounds of the postseason.
Tampa Bay carries the edge in experience from its back-to-back Stanley Cup titles, and it could steal Game 1 in Denver if its defense slows down the impact of Colorado's stars.
Game 1 Odds
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Money Line: Colorado -160 (bet $160 to win $100); Tampa Bay (+140; bet $100 to win $140)
Puck Line: Colorado -1.5 (+170), Tampa Bay +1.5 (-200)
Point Could Return For Game 1
Point is getting closer to being on the ice for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper provided an update on the injured forward on Tuesday night, per ESPN.com's Greg Wyshynski.
"If it's not tomorrow, then we really anticipate Game 2. But we'll see how he is tomorrow," he said.
Point has been a vital part to Tampa Bay's success over the last two Stanley Cup runs. The team has learned to play with injuries in the last two years, and it didn't have Stamkos at full strength for one of its titles.
Getting Point back for Game 1 would provide a major boost inside the Lightning locker room as they prepare to take on an Avalanche team that has lost just two games this postseason.
The return of the 26-year-old could provide an edge in scoring depth against a Colorado squad that is without Nazem Kadri, who was injured in the Western Conference Final.
Tampa Bay needs all the offensive depth it can get if some of the series contests are high-scoring affairs.
Colorado proved it could handle those types of games while sweeping the Oilers, and the Lightning played a more defensive-minded series against the New York Rangers.
Defense could be the key for Tampa Bay to not only steal Game 1 but also to put it ahead for the rest of the series.
Tampa Bay's Defense Could Change Series
No team has been able to stop the Avalanche this postseason.
Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar are, arguably, the most talented duo in the NHL right now, and there is plenty of depth around them to hurt opponents if either player can't get going.
Tampa Bay has the defensive capabilities to slow down the entire Avalanche offense for 60 minutes.
The Lightning have the edge in goal, with 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy in net.
Tampa Bay held the Rangers to three goals in the final three games of the Eastern Conference Final. That series flipped when the Lightning recovered from a two-goal deficit in Game 3.
Colorado has much more dynamic offensive talent than the Rangers, but the Lightning could use the same defensive principles to slow down the Avalanche in stretches.
Tampa Bay may try to win with defense in Game 1 to counter the fresh legs on Colorado's side of the ice.
Stamkos, Kucherov and Co. have seen all types of playoff hockey games during their title run, but they are better suited to win low-scoring games in the series.
If MacKinnon, Makar and others net multiple goals in a single period, Tampa Bay could get run off the ice in Denver and face a two-game deficit going back home.
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