Hockey World Blog

Sharks Dealt Blow As Thornton Injures Leg

The San Jose Sharks were dealt a blow just ahead of the playoffs when first line center Joe Thornton left last night’s game with a leg injury. The veteran forward will be a big loss to the Sharks as he joins fellow top center Logan Couture on the sidelines.

The Sharks won’t be too worried just yet as it shouldn’t impact on their league position too much, but going into the playoffs either missing a top center or having two centers recovering from injury is far from ideal.

Thornton has had a very ‘Thornton like’ season this year, scoring just seven goals but assisting on an impressive 43 from the 79 games he has played. His experience is just as vital to this club as his scoring abilities and when it comes to the playoffs, his experience counts for even more. Hopefully, for the Sharks, he doesn’t miss any playoff time, but if he does then I expect them to struggle, even more so if Couture also remains sidelined.

If Thornton is available before the end of the regular season, I don’t expect to see him play so his first game back for the Sharks, looking at the best case scenario, would be round one of the playoffs, game one. What is going to be really interesting for me is how long it will take Thornton to recover from this injury, and if the Sharks risk him, despite not being fully fit. At 37 Thornton is coming towards the end of his career so I expect he will want to play every playoff game possible, although at that age it also takes longer to recover from injuries.

Should the Sharks decide to risk Thornton, even though he isn’t fully fit then I don’t think that will cause too many problems to his game. He relies on his hockey brain more than his speed or physical play so he is the type of player who could get away with playing at 80%. If that is the case I could envision a situation where Thornton is used less when the Sharks are 5 on 5, but more on the power play when he can remain relatively stationary and use his brain to dictate play.

The injury to Thornton is the last thing the Sharks needed right now, they are 2-8-0 in their last ten games and although they are on course for the playoffs, their form at the moment is very poor. Going into the playoffs, teams prefer to be confident and going in on a winning streak, San Jose is doing exactly the opposite right now.

The Sharks are going through a tough time right now and they are about to undergo a serious character test, let’s see how they respond.

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