Lightning Aren’t Getting Enough From Point to Start the 2021-22 Season

Over the last three seasons, Brayden Point has gone from a player who was respected in the NHL, to someone that is feared. Every time he steps on the ice, he has the potential to dominate a game, as his speed and scoring acumen can turn the tide in an instant.

In 2018-19, he established himself as a true superstar, scoring 42 goals and 92 points in 79 games played. He followed that up with a 25 goal, 64 point campaign in the shortened 2019-20 season where he was on pace to break 30 goals scored and at least 70 points once again. Then, in the completely unique 2020-21 season, he still posted 23 goals and 48 points in 56 games, which led the Tampa Bay Lightning in both categories.

There’s also no doubt that Point has been a key contributor to the Lightning getting over their postseason hump. His playoff leading 14 goals in back-to-back postseasons were instrumental in Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup victories, and there is a strong argument that he could have won the Conn Smythe Trophy in both 2020 and 2021.

After all of this incredible play, the Lightning locked down Point during the 2021 offseason, signing their undersized star to an eight-year, $9.5 million per year extension.

Brayden Point Tampa Bay Lightning
As Brayden Point established himself for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he became one of the franchise’s most important players and a true superstar in the NHL. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Given his explosive output in recent years, when you look at Point’s scoring totals to start the 2021-22 season, the numbers look rather mundane. Through his first 10 games, he only has four goals and six points to his name, despite taking on a career-high 19:40 seconds of ice-time each night.

Now, for any other player, these scoring totals would be a solid start to the season, but for Point, this should be viewed as underwhelming, since he is such a key offensive driver for the Lightning.

Point Is Dealing With a Number of Issues

There are a number of good reasons why Point’s play hasn’t been up to his usual high standard. First and foremost is the long-term injury suffered by Nikita Kucherov, which sidelined, arguably, the Lightning’s best player just three games into the season.

Since this injury, Tampa Bay’s first-line and powerplay has looked a bit less lethal, as you can’t just replace what Kucherov brings to the ice each night. He is another offensive driver, who allows his linemates like Point and Ondrej Palat to fully unleash their talents as opponents attempt to keep up with his play.

Nikita Kucherov Tampa Bay Lightning
With Nikita Kucherov out of the Lightning’s line-up, this can have a bit of a knock-on effect for players like Point, which may be a reason why he isn’t dominating games like normal. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Besides this, you also can’t undervalue just how much hockey Point has played over the last 16 months. Since the 2020 playoffs started in the bubble, he has played in 46 postseason games, along with 66 regular-season games. To put it simply, that is a lot of high-stress hockey, which may be contributing some fatigue for the start of the season.

Point Is Still a Consistently Great Player

When you are known for producing points, it can be easy to overlook just how impactful a player like Point is even when he isn’t scoring. Throughout his career, he has averaged a Corsi and Fenwick For well above 50%, meaning that when he is on the ice, the puck is more often than not with the Lightning. Now, while this may be an inflated number due to the fact that he takes more than 70 percent of his starts in the offensive zone, it still shows that he is able to keep the puck in the offensive zone, which allows his line to generate more chances and bring in more scoring.

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This season, Point has continued this tradition as his Corsi and Fenwick For are both hovering around 57%, a number that shows he is still playing the game the right way despite his lack of scoring output.

So, what this all means is that it isn’t time to panic about Point’s slow start just yet. While you would expect him to be producing at a greater clip than he currently is, he still is finding ways to contribute to the franchise each night. As long as he continues to do this, the points will eventually follow.

Brayden Point Tampa Bay Lightning
While Point is off to a slow start to the 2021-22 season, expect him to turn the situation around as he learns to play once again without Kucherov. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

However, until he gets his scoring back on track, expect the Lightning to look a bit out of sync. Point is one of their offensive drivers, and when he isn’t producing on the ice, it will affect the entire team’s output.

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