Sharks GM updates Joe Thornton's injury, will miss 'several weeks'

Sharks GM updates Joe Thornton's injury, will miss 'several weeks'

The Sharks will be without center Joe Thornton, their second-leading scorer, for "several weeks" after he sustained an injury to his right MCL on Tuesday, general manager Doug Wilson told reporters at Sharks Ice on Wednesday.

"We're gonna get an MRI today on his knee. It was not the knee he injured last year," Wilson said. 

"We'll wait until some of the swelling goes down, but it looks like he's going to be out for several weeks anyhow."

The team is unsure if Thornton will need surgery, and is awaiting further updates, according to Wilson. 

In the final minute of regulation during San Jose's 5-4 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Thornton's knee buckled in an awkward collision with teammate Mikkel Boedker in the neutral zone. Thornton skated to the bench under his own power, and headed straight to the Sharks dressing room. 

Last season, Thornton partially tore the MCL and ACL in his left knee. The injury required offseason surgery, but Thornton played in San Jose's last four playoff games during a six-game, first round loss to the Edmonton Oilers, and was a full participant at the beginning of training camp following offseason rehab. 

Thornton played through injury earlier this season, too. He missed a couple of practices in November, but did not miss a game, with an injury that Thornton and Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told reporters was unrelated to his left knee.

"The bad news is the injury. The good news is he's a unique individual," Wilson told reporters. "He knows how to address injuries and rehab, and all that.

"All injuries are different, so [I think] the mental approach to injuries like this is his strength, and we'll just see what the next few weeks brings."

With health on his slide, Thornton scored 26 points in his last 28 games after scoring 10 in his first 19. Thornton's six goals in January are tied for the eighth-most in the league. 

Wilson said the team will need the rest of the roster to bear more responsibility in Thornton's absence.

"[Thornton's] such an inspirational guy. What he's done is I think he's kind of inspired a lot of those other guys to step up," Wilson said. "And now they need to step up even more."

"I think we're set up. No team likes to lose a player like this for any period of time. And as I say, Joe is so inspirational to all of us that I think it's an opportunity for some people to follow his lead."

Entering Wednesday, the Sharks held a three-point cushion on the Pacific Division's second playoff spot, which means they'd have home ice advantage in the first round if the postseason began today. Wilson told reporters that San Jose's approach to the Feb. 26 trade deadline will "probably not" change in light of Thornton's injury.

"But don't hold me to that," he quickly added. "You never know what comes available as you go forward."

Last season, the Sharks and Thornton disclosed his injury differently. Perhaps because he was hurt  just three games before the postseason began, DeBoer told reporters that Thornton, and then-injured center Logan Couture, were "day-to-day" and that he "[expected] both of them back at some point."

Thornton himself initially told reporters there was "no doubt" he'd play in Game 1 of the Sharks' first round series against the Oilers, only to say he was "day-to-day" the day before the series began.

Wilson told reporters on Wednesday that it was club policy to disclose if a player was expected to miss more than two weeks. Thornton returned to San Jose's lineup 14 days after injuring his left knee in April.

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.