Logan Couture

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

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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.

 

 

Sharks replace Donskoi with Boedker as series shifts back to Edmonton

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After playing the first two games — then sitting the next two — Mikkel Boedker will draw back into the San Jose lineup tonight when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Boedker will replace Joonas Donskoi, who’s been a lineup regular thus far. Donskoi has appeared in all four games, registering an assist while averaging 13:15 TOI per night.

Boedker, meanwhile, was averaging 15:13 TOI prior to getting parked. Head coach Peter DeBoer has used the press box as a motivational tool for the 27-year-old previously — during the regular season Boedker was benched, then healthy scratched — so that could be what’s happening here.

Based on line rushes, Boedker will be on a line with center Logan Couture and fellow Danish winger Jannik Hansen.

This is a fairly big opportunity for Boedker to salvage his first season in San Jose. It’s largely been a disappointment. Signed to a fairly lucrative four-year, $16 million deal in free agency, the expectation was that Boedker’s lighting quick skating ability and familiarity with DeBoer (the two were in tandem in OHL Kitchener) would be a boon for San Jose.

Boedker proceeded to only score 10 goals and 26 points for the Sharks, well off the career-high 51 points he scored last year.

 

Draisaitl to have hearing for spearing Tierney in groin

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The ugly incident that got Leon Draisaitl tossed from Edmonton’s 7-0 loss in San Jose last night has landed him in hot water.

On Wednesday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced Draisaitl would have a disciplinary hearing for his spear to the groin of Sharks forward Chris Tierney.

Draisaitl was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for his actions, which came late in the second period of the blowout defeat. Afterward, Sharks forward Logan Couture said there was malice in Draisaitl’s actions.

Watch Sharks vs. Oilers: Game 5 on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBC Sports app)

“I think it’s dangerous,” Couture said, per the Mercury News. “Any time you spear a guy like that you’re intending to injure him. I don’t like those types of plays in this game, but the refs made a good call with throwing him out.”

Back in the 2014 playoffs, two players were fined — but not suspended — for spearing: Boston’s Milan Lucic, and Dallas’ Ryan Garbutt.

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

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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.”

Zach Werenski shares battle scars in selfie, gains Tortorella’s (colorful) praise

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Zach Werenski‘s horrifying wound might just unseat Taylor Hall‘s grotesque injury and Logan Couture‘s damaged mouth as the grossest hockey wound in recent memory.

If nothing else, Werenski gets the edge over Hall because that wounded moment came in the playoffs.

Werenski returned briefly (following a scary, bloody moment) during the Columbus Blue Jackets’ eventual 5-4 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but couldn’t return during OT. The reason why? He basically couldn’t see out of his right eye, as NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika and others report.

Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

We already saw some in-game evidence of the gore when he was able to come back but Werenski himself posted evidence that it (gag) got a lot worse.

As a comparison, here’s before the swelling got out of control:

To little surprise, Werenski’s willingness to battle through the injury as much as possible gained the respect of his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates:

To even less surprise, John Tortorella provided the money quote:

Oh, Torts. Never change. (Note: he might not even change the way he flatters … brave people.)

As a reminder, there’s still some debate surrounding the goal counting after Werenski was injured.

You’re unlikely to hear any quibbling about the rookie defenseman’s toughness, however … especially in the Blue Jackets’ locker room.