Programming note: Jets-Sharks coverage begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – Injured Sharks forward Logan Couture is pleased with the progress he’s made since undergoing right hand surgery on Jan. 8.
Couture has yet to handle or shoot the puck, so it would be premature to suggest that he’s ahead of the three-to-four week timeframe that was put his return. But, Couture said it’s getting better every day.
“I’m really not touching a puck out there, but just trying to stay in game shape, and that’s the main thing,” Couture said. “Hopefully I can start practicing in the next week or two, and see where it goes.”
Couture was asked if the goal was to get in a game before the Olympic break, which starts after the Sharks’ play Columbus on Feb. 7.
“It all depends how I feel, what the doctor says, and we’ll go from there,” he said. “Right now we’re just taking it day-by-day, as cliché as that is. Each day, there’s such big improvement, that it’s been good so far.”
Couture clarified that he did not hurt the hand when he pounded the ice in frustration during a game against Minnesota on Dec. 12, after he reacted from being struck in the face with a Marc-Edouard Vlasic shot. Rather, he suffered the injury on Dec. 19 in a game in Los Angeles, coincidentally, the same game that Sharks forward Tomas Hertl suffered a serious right knee injury.
Couture didn’t want to get into specifics of how he hurt the hand, other than it wasn’t from blocking a shot.
The Sharks are 5-2-0 with Couture out of the lineup. Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton are pacing the offense with Couture out, but the Sharks are getting contributions from other players, such as Matt Nieto, Tyler Kennedy and Tommy Wingels. San Jose has allowed just 12 goals in the seven games without Couture, for a 1.71 goals-against average.
Coach Todd McLellan seems pleased with his team’s performance since it lost its young star, and even suggested it could be a good thing for his club, at least temporarily.
“It certainly creates, within the organization, an internal competition for minutes and roster spots,” McLellan said, mentioning players like Eriah Hayes and Bracken Kearns, who have found places in the lineup since being recalled from AHL Worcester.
“You don’t ever want them feeling uncomfortable, but you also want them on notice. There’s players pushing. If you feel like you’re in competition with these individuals, you don’t want to be looking over your shoulder, but you’ve also got to know: ‘I’ve got to get going, too. When all these players are healthy, where am I going to be?’ I think that drives some of those individuals.”
* * *
Nearly all of the Sharks’ regulars stayed off of the ice for an optional practice on Tuesday. Hayes, John McCarthy and Antti Niemi were the only players to skate that played in Monday night’s 3-2 home win over Calgary.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sharks extend win streak to four]
The Sharks will practice on Wednesday at Sharks Ice, and continue a four-game homestand with the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.