The 2022 Stanley Cup Final gets underway tonight at Ball Arena in Denver between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning. Both teams took to the ice for their morning skate and it appears that they'll each have a player return to their lineup from injury.
After missing the entire second round against the Florida Panthers and Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers with a lower-body injury, Lightning forward Brayden Point is set to make this return to the lineup for Game 1 according to head coach Jon Cooper.
Cooper added that they aren't sure if forward Brandon Hagel can suit up tonight. Hagel has been dealing with an undisclosed injury and missed a few practices during the playoffs likely to receive treatment.
As for the Avalanche, although it's not confirmed yet, it's likely that Darcy Kuemper will be making his first appearance in the crease since suffering an upper-body injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers.
Peter Baugh of The Athletic reported earlier on Wednesday that Kuemper was in the starters net at the morning skate, likely indicating that he will be between the pipes for Game 1.
Forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano won't play in Game 1 according to Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, but both are classed as day-to-day. Both players skated prior to practice on Wednesday.
Kadri suffered a thumb injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final and underwent surgery on June 6th. Bednar initially stated that Kadri was likely done for the playoffs, but didn't officially rule him out.
Cogliano underwent surgery on his finger on June 9th and also isn't likely to play in the Stanley Cup Final. The fact that both him and Kadri are skating is pretty remarkable, so if the series goes to five, six or even seven games, it could be possible that one of, if not both players return, but we'll have to wait and see.
Here are the projected lines for each team according to NHL.com
.Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel - Anthony Cirelli - Alex Killorn
Ross Colton - Brayden Point - Nicholas Paul
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - Zach Bogosian
Brian ElliottColorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Valeri Nichushkin
Andre Burakovsky - Mikko Rantanen - Artturi Lehkonen
Alex Newhook - J.T. Compher - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Nico Sturm - Darren Helm - Logan O'Connor
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Jack Johnson - Josh Manson
Bowen Byram - Erik Johnson
Puck drop for Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final is set for 8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. local on CBC and Sportsnet in Canada and ABC in the United States.