Joe Thornton

Getty

DeBoer praises ‘courageous’ Thornton for playing with torn ACL, MCL (Updated)

3 Comments

In a fairly stunning admission on Monday, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters that Joe Thornton played in four of San Jose’s six playoff games versus Edmonton with a significant knee injury.

Thornton, who was hurt against Vancouver late in the regular season, suffered tears to both his left MCL and ACL.

“I’ve never seen a guy play with a torn MCL and ACL,” DeBoer said, per the club’s Twitter account. “It’s a courageous effort as I’ve ever seen.”

Thornton, 37, missed the first two games of the series to rest his knee, before suiting up for the final four. He averaged 18:50 TOI per night and finished with a pair of assists, numbers that are pretty remarkable given the severity of his ailment.

Jumbo wasn’t the only unhealthy Shark during the first-round playoff ouster. Logan Couture‘s face/mouth injury was well-documented and, today, DeBoer also revealed that Tomas Hertl was playing with a broken foot, and Patrick Marleau with a broken thumb.

Looking ahead, Thornton’s knee injury might cloud what’s an already murky future. He’s a pending UFA, and there have been no clear signals from the organization on how they’ll address his potential return. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported in January the Thornton camp was looking for a three-year deal.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Sharks GM Doug Wilson has time on his side. It’s understood the club probably wouldn’t act on an extension for Thornton until after the June expansion draft, which could give the Sharks enough time to better gauge his health.

Update:

Per NBC Sports California, Wilson confirmed Thornton is undergoing surgery today to repair the ligaments.

 

 

San Jose’s power play was bad all year, now it’s proving costly

Getty
2 Comments

The Sharks were the NHL’s third-best team with the man advantage last year, and they carried that over to the playoffs by scoring at a 24 percent clip.

This year, same story.

Sorta.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

San Jose has certainly carried its regular-season PP over to the postseason — only it’s been lousy, not stellar. The Sharks finished 25th in the NHL this year with a 16.7 percent success rate, and are now 1-for-14 through three games against the Oilers.

In Sunday’s 1-0 Game 3 loss, San Jose had two chances with the man advantage. It didn’t score, which makes sense because it wasn’t credited with a single shot on goal.

“You’ve got to shoot the puck,” Logan Couture said, per NBC Sports California. “You’ve got to score some goals. We know that. Obviously that’s been a concern for us all season, our power play hasn’t been where we need it to be.

“We need it to be better. It’s simple to say, it’s easy to say, but we’ve got to be better.”

It’s puzzling why the unit is so bad. All the guys that made last year’s PP so dynamic are still there — Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns — but the production isn’t. Last year, the Pavelski-Marleau-Thornton trio combined for 31 PPG.

This year? Just 16.

Head coach Peter DeBoer suggested the group wasn’t “hungry enough” and got outworked, and some of that surely has to do with the Oilers.

Edmonton was a good penalty killing team at home during the regular season — 82.3 percent at Rogers Place — and that carried over to Games 1 and 2, when the Oilers surrendered just one PPG on 12 opportunities. They also got a massive shorthanded goal from Zack Kassian, and have started using captain Connor McDavid more and more on the PK.

After averaging just 48 seconds of shorthanded ice time during the regular season, McDavid is up to 1:57 per in the playoffs.

“He can skate, he’s got great instincts,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said of McDavid on the kill, per TSN. “His stamina is second to none. Those are all pretty good qualities for a penalty killer.”

Kassian wins it for Oilers, who shut out Sharks again

4 Comments

The venue changed, but the larger points stayed the same between the Sharks and Oilers from Game 2 to Game 3 … shockingly so.

To start, Cam Talbot shut out San Jose for the second straight game, making 23 saves as Edmonton won 1-0, taking a 2-1 series lead on Sunday. Considering that Talbot only needed 16 stops for a shutout in Game 2, it’s obvious that offense has been halted in this series (even with Joe Thornton back for the Sharks).

Wait … allow a correction: offense is drying up for everyone not named Zack Kassian.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

The former first-rounder and former reclamation project now has two consecutive game-winning goals. He was a regular threat against the Sharks, too, creating turnovers and applying his mixture of size and skill in impressive (rarely seen) ways.

He’s already inspiring comparisons to the Oilers’ “most recent” unlikely hero before him: Fernando Pisani (yet, it’s been a while for Edmonton):

More than a few people griped that Kassian beat Jones five-hole (“again!”).

Of course, that goal would be far less regrettable if the Sharks had been able to score since the overtime-winner from Game 1.

It’s been an extremely tight couple of games between the two teams, so coming out on top twice in a row has to be really heartening for an Oilers team that came into the playoffs with legitimate questions about their defense.

Now the Sharks must push through their bumps and bruises to find a way to create more offense.

… And, dare we say, find a way to contain that Kassian kid?

Jumbo Joe is good to go: Sharks get Thornton back for Game 3

Getty

The San Jose Sharks managed to split the first two games in Edmonton, but there’s no doubt that they’re elated to have Joe Thornton back for Game 3 against the Oilers.

“Jumbo Joe” has been sidelined since April 2 with a knee/lower-body issue. He’s back tonight as the series shifts to the Shark Tank for a pivotal contest.

Interestingly, the Sharks are placing Thornton back into the lineup in place of speedy (but hot-and-cold) winger Mikkel Boedker.

So, the Sharks get bigger, more bearded and more experienced … though the speed disparity, at times, could be quite glaring when a (possibly hobbled) Thornton is out there with Connor McDavid.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

The Oilers have good injury news of their own, too, as Oscar Klefbom is good to go.

Joe Thornton out again for Sharks

Getty

San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton was hoping to be ready for the start of their first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers.

But after sitting out the Sharks’ come-from-behind Game 1 win on Wednesday, he will once again be out of the lineup for Game 2 on Friday night as he continues to cover from a knee injury.

Thornton took part in the morning skate earlier in the day but was not on the ice for pre-game warmups and will miss at least one more game.

Stream Sharks vs. Oilers on NBC Sports

He has not played for the Sharks since April 2.

In 79 games this season he scored seven goals and was second on the team with 43 assists for the Sharks.