Brayden Point emerging as Tampa Bay's most valuable player – ESPN

Brayden Point isn’t just shutting down opponents’ top scorers, he’s outscoring them too, with 28 points through 23 games in 2018-19. 

11:59 AM ET

Greg WyshynskiESPN

Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper called his young center Brayden Point into his office.

It was Game 1 of the 2018 Eastern Conference playoff semifinals in April, and Point was in the midst of being absolutely embarrassed by the Boston Bruins‘ top line. Cooper had entrusted his talented 22-year-old center with the team’s most important defensive test, which he had flunked to the tune of a minus-5 by the end of the game, the worst goal differential of his brief NHL career.

Maybe another coach throws a young player a life preserver, moving him into a different matchup. Maybe another player grows frustrated and despondent after an effort like that.

That wasn’t about to happen with Brayden Point.

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“I had a stern heart to heart with him,” recalled Cooper this week, as the Lightning prepared to face the Nashville Predators. “I told him I’m not pulling him out of that matchup. That he has to play out of it. And you saw what happened after that. It was unreal.”

What happened: Point had a goal and three assists in Tampa Bay’s 4-2 Game 2 victory, evening a series they would win in six games.

“There’s a fire in him. You can be hard on Pointer. I think he wants that. He’s not satisfied,” said Cooper.

He was challenged. He accepted it. Such has been the case throughout his career, which continues to ascend to incredible heights this season, as

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