Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Couture, Thornton Not in Ideal Shape as Game 1 Looms

The Sharks could have both Logan Couture and Joe Thornton in the lineup on Wednesday when they visit Rogers Place to begin their first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers. Then again, they might not.

And if they do, the Sharks will be fielding two players who are nowhere near 100 percent.

Couture, who was hit in the face by a puck on March 25th and missed the Sharks last seven games, has skated with the team in practice for the last two days, getting top line minutes with Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson, but he says he is still experiencing pain when breathing, eating and talking.

Couture could struggle when the rough-and-tumble ferocity of playoff hockey kicks in, but he says he's benefited from skating in practice on consecutive days.

“It’s going to take a long time for my face to completely heal,” Couture said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “Anything to the face now could possibly hurt it again. Who knows? I’m wearing as protective of gear as you can possibly wear and trying to be careful.”

Thornton's situation seems even less hopeful at the moment. He has skated with the fourth line and received limited reps in practice over the last two days, leaving half way through practice to rest his injured knee. On Tuesday Thornton backed away from his guarantee of playoff readiness and admitted that he's more "day-to-day" than "rearing to go."

If he does play, it looks as though Thornton could get limited minutes on the fourth line, which is how he was used in practice this week.

There are a lot of question marks for a team that has struggled over the last month with its best players in the lineup. San Jose went 9-11-0 since March 1st. They started the month in first place in the Pacific, five points ahead of second-place Edmonton and finished the season in third place, six points behind the Ducks and four behind the Oilers.