Programming note: Kings-Sharks coverage begins Thursday night at 7:00 on Comcast SportsNet California with Sharks Pregame Live
SAN JOSE – The Sharks missed Raffi Torres in last season’s second round against the Kings, when the forward was suspended for the final six games of the seven-game series for hitting Jarret Stoll in Game 1.
They’re hopeful that they won’t be missing him again when the playoffs begin against Los Angeles on Thursday. Torres, who had surgery to repair his right ACL in September, has played just five games this season and missed the final 17 games after returning too soon for a brief stretch in late February/early March.
On Monday, Torres continued to skate with the team as it resumed practice at Sharks Ice.
Several weeks ago after he was removed from the lineup again, Torres said that he would physically be able to make it through a game if necessary, but was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to play his agitating, hard-hitting brand of hockey in order to be effective.
Is he back to the point where he can play his preferred style?
“I think I am, but like I said, I won’t really know until I get out there and get into a battle, or something like that,” Torres said. “That’s kind of where I stand right now.”
“I’m hoping to play. We’ll see. I’ve still got a few days here.”
Todd McLellan wasn’t offering much more of an update on Torres, either. It is playoff time now, after all.
“We’ll see where he is on Thursday, if he’s ready to play or not,” McLellan said. “He has good days and bad days. If he’s good enough to play and can contribute without hurting the team, and certainly looking toward helping the team, he’ll definitely be in. If he can’t do that, then he won’t play.”
Torres made an impact in the five games he played. His first game in Philadelphia on Feb. 27 he scored twice, and he added another goal on March 2 at New Jersey. He also helped change the momentum of a game against Pittsburgh on March 6, when he threw some big hits on Marcel Goc and Rob Scuderi to spur San Jose to a 5-3 come-from-behind win.
Torres, though, didn’t seem to put a whole lot of stock into those performances.
“I got a few bounces to go my way,” he said. “Sometimes I feel terrible out there and score a couple goals, kind of like how I did in Philly. I know physically I could be a lot better. It was nice to contribute for five games, for sure, don’t get me wrong. I just want to be able to feel good at the end of the game.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave Torres more credit than the forward wanted to accept himself.
‘He’s a goal-scorer. Five points in five games,” Vlasic said, through a grin. “Created a lot out there for his linemates. He’s a physical guy, he skates, he hits, he creates opportunities for his linemates, and that’s what he did when he played those five games.”
And, the void he left in the second round last season against Los Angeles was felt, according to the defenseman.
“We did miss him when he was out,” Vlasic said. “He created a lot when he was in. Hopefully, he can do the same when he comes back.”