Is Team USA's success surprising?
SAN JOSE – Logan Couture, Raffi Torres, Matt Nieto and Tyler Kennedy are all likely to play in the Sharks’ next game when the season resumes on Feb. 27 in Philadelphia, returning from various injuries.
Couture, who has 35 points in 43 games, missed the last 16 games before the Olympic break with a fractured right hand.
“Yeah, I think so, as of right now,” Couture said when asked if he was ready to go. “Obviously, we don’t play for a while, but hopefully I’ll be in the lineup in Philly.”
The Sharks managed to go 10-6-0 while missing their second line center, who is their top line center on many nights. Goal scoring was a problem for San Jose in the games leading up to the break, as the Sharks had just nine goals in their final seven games, but Couture particularly enjoyed watching Joe Pavelski’s torrid run. Pavelski potted 10 goals in the first eight games that Couture was out.
“When Pav was going real well there, it was unbelievable to watch, night in and night out,” Couture said. “Even as a fan, I felt just to see him play that well was pretty cool. A lot of guys stepped up and helped the team win games when we weren’t necessarily playing our best. We found ways, and it’s good to see.”
Nieto missed the last game before the break after blocking a Trevor Daley blast against Dallas on Feb. 5, but said he did not break anything despite being seen leaving the arena later that night in a walking boot on his left foot.
Kennedy battled through a nagging lower body injury, but, like Nieto, said he would be fine to play in the Sharks’ next game.
Torres has yet to play this season after suffering undergoing surgery in September to repair a torn right ACL.
Todd McLellan will have to manage not just his team's three-week break between games, but integrating all of his available forwards back into the mix, including Adam Burish. The winger played his first two games of the season just before the break, recovering from back surgery in October.
“The challenges that we face post-Olympic break are going to be two-fold. One, is getting our overall game back, but also introducing some new players into the lineup that we haven’t had basically all season. We’ve done that prior to, with Adam Burish entering in.
“We could be putting a group of players on the ice together for the first time this season. That can be a real good thing. It will also have to be a patient thing for our group. They are going to experience that level that they haven’t been at yet, thinking about Raffi in particular. But, we do have about six weeks to put it all together before we get to the real time of the year.”