SAN JOSE – Sharks centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture both took part in practice on Monday, as San Jose prepares to face Edmonton in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There were still no real indications whether either will be able to play on Wednesday when the series opens at Rogers Place. Thornton skated for approximately a half hour before departing, while Couture was out for the entire hour-plus session.
Thornton and Couture were each wearing white practice sweaters, typically denoting top line duty, and were joined by wingers Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson. Thornton, who looked to be moving well considering how ugly the apparent left knee injury appeared, spent most of the skate with the fourth line options.
Last week, Thornton said there was “no doubt” he would be ready for Game 1. The 37-year-old missed the last three games and has been spotted walking with a slight limp in recent days.
Coach Pete DeBoer, who continues to refer to Thornton and Couture as day-to-day, said: "I thought [Thornton] looked good, yeah. It was a good skate for him, a good first step coming back. So, it's good."
Justin Braun said: “I thought he was alright. Progressing, for sure. A lot faster, I thought. It was great to see.”
Thornton is expected to speak with the media on Tuesday.
Couture, who continues to wear a full cage to protect his injured face, has been much more vague than Thornton about his future availability. He missed the final seven games of the regular season after taking a deflected puck to the face in Nashville on March 25, and has still not taken contact.
“I don't know what's going to happen going forward,” Couture said. “I'm still, I guess you could say, day-to-day. We'll go from there. If the game was today I don't know if I would play. If it was tomorrow, I don't know. So, we'll see."
Couture said the pain he has been dealing with has gotten “slightly” better. There’s still a chance a heavy hit could cause further damage, though.
“Oh, obviously,” he said. “It’s not completely healed. It's going to take a long time for my face to completely heal. So anything to the face, it could possibly hurt it again. Who knows? I'm wearing as [protective] gear as you can possibly wear, and trying to be careful."
If you got the cage rattled, would it cause him a lot pain?
"I haven't had it rattled. I don't know,” he said.
If Thornton and Couture are to miss playoff games, some of the Sharks’ younger players will have to step up and do a little more than they’ve done in the regular season, according to Braun.
“I think puts a little more pressure on maybe some of the younger guys to get it done,” Braun said. “It’s a chance to really make your name in this league, set yourself up for a good career. If [Thornton and Couture] are not in, some of these guys have a good chance to get their career going in the right direction. I think it’s exciting for them to get that opportunity.”
The Sharks' second line featured Tomas Hertl between Jannik Hansen and Mikkel Boedker, while Patrick Marleau centered Joel Ward and Joonas Donskoi on the third line. Each of those two lines appears to be set.
The Sharks had five players dressed in fourth line sweaters for practice: Chris Tierney, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc, Marcus Sorensen and Micheal Haley.