Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton says he’s “100 percent” and playing in Game 5

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During Game 4 the San Jose Sharks got quite a scare when captain Joe Thornton took a crushing hit from Canucks agitator Raffi Torres. Torres put Thornton down on the ice with a big, open ice hit in the third period that caused Thornton to go down to the ice awkwardly.

Thornton did get up right away, but he skated to the bench and headed to the locker room with what appeared to be an upper body injury and did not play the rest of the game.

After the game, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said that he’d update Thornton’s condition as soon as they knew something leaving most to assume that Thornton’s chances of playing in Game 5 could be in peril. Thornton decided to answer that speculation on his own declaring just how healthy he is and whether or not he’s going to play in Game 5.

But a text message to Thornton several hours later did get this response when he was asked the chances he’d be ready to play in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

“100 percent,” he wrote to my Mercury News colleague Mark Emmons. “It’s playoffs, got to play through everything.”

Playing injured in the playoffs isn’t unknown territory for Thornton. During the 2004 playoffs with the Bruins, Thornton played through torn rib cartilage. In that seven game series loss to Montreal, Thornton scored zero points and was made into a playoff pariah in Boston for his no-show. Of course, as it was going on the fans didn’t know if he was hurt as his injury wasn’t revealed until the Bruins were bounced out.

Even in spite of the injury revelation, fans held it strongly against Thornton for not doing anything to help the Bruins win that series. When the NHL resumed play after the lockout in 2004-2005, the 05-06 season saw Thornton get traded to San Jose where he went on to become the NHL MVP that season.

With the Sharks now down 3-1 in this series and Thornton playing well, will Sharks fans give Jumbo Joe the same treatment should they end up eliminated for the second straight year in the Western Conference finals? We’d certainly hope not as Thornton and Patrick Marleau have been their two most consistent players in this series.

If there are fingers to be pointed for an early exit, they can be pointed at guys like Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi who have been invisible all series. Even Joe Pavelski hasn’t been the hero he was in the previous rounds. Getting improved production from those three would help the Sharks immensely. With Thornton potentially playing all banged up, they’re going to need it or else the Sharks season is ending sooner than they’d hoped.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer