EDMONTON – Logan Couture is not with the Sharks in Edmonton on Thursday and will not be available to play in any of the next three games on San Jose’s road trip, coach Pete DeBoer said on Thursday morning at Rogers Place.
Couture is still recovering from significant dental work on Monday after a deflected puck knocked out several teeth in a game in Nashville last Saturday. The Sharks have put no timeframe on his return, and after visits to Calgary on Friday and Vancouver on Sunday, have just three games left in the regular season.
Couture’s former coach, Todd McLellan, was asked on Thursday morning how Couture’s absence affects the Sharks ahead of the important Sharks-Oilers game later on Thursday night.
“I can certainly appreciate his skill and ability,” McLellan said. “You guys in San Jose watch him every game. His intensity and his drive – he drives that team as much as anybody does. So, I’m sure it doesn’t help not having him in the lineup. But, we’ll continue to prepare, because they have a number of others that can make you pay.”
The Sharks ended a six-game losing streak on Tuesday against the Rangers, 5-4, with Couture out.
“It’s kind of ironic, as Logan left the team they got back off the losing streak, because others picked up the slack,” McLellan said. “Good teams do that, and San Jose is a good team.”
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One player in particular that upped his game against the Rangers was Chris Tierney, who scored two goals, including the game-tying marker with 2:15 to go in regulation.
More games like that from the 22-year-old would surely be welcomed by coach Pete DeBoer, as Tierney has struggled throughout his third NHL season to generate consistent offense. In 74 games, he has nine goals and 11 assists for 20 points.
“I thought he was assertive, he was skating well. He’s a young player learning that consistency,” DeBoer said. “When he gets it, when he has a little bit of that assertiveness in his game, a little bit of desperation in his game, he’s very effective. When he settles in and gets a little comfortable, he’s not.
“We’ve had to sit him a couple times over the last couple years and give him a little bit of a shock, and he’s responded every time. But, every time I want to see the consistency last a little longer and longer, and hopefully you don’t have to do that anymore.”
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Jannik Hansen registered the primary assist on Tierney’s goal, after opening the scoring against the Rangers Tuesday night. It was his first goal with the Sharks after he was acquired from Vancouver just before the trade deadline.
“It [was] a little longer wait than I anticipated,” Hansen said. “We joked after the first game I could have had one in an empty net, didn’t get it. You always like to get those ones out of the way so it doesn’t hang over you. I would have loved to have produced more, especially when we were losing.”
It’s unclear where Hansen will line up against the Oilers. He could return to the top line, where he played when he was first inserted into the Sharks’ lineup, or he may remain with countryman Mikkel Boedker on the third line, with either Tierney or Tomas Hertl as the center.
“I think he fits everywhere and anywhere,” DeBoer said. “I think that’s the beauty of him. He’s such a versatile guy."