Thornton gets his rest before season heads to busy stretch
SAN JOSE >> Joe Thornton stayed off the ice for Tuesday’s practice — which mainly featured a game of 3-on-3 — as the Sharks continue to manage his workload on non-game days.
Now is the time, it would seem, to give Thornton as much rest as possible before the Sharks head into another busy stretch.
After Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Sharks have five games in eight days, playing every other day until they have back-toback games Nov. 24 in Las Vegas and Nov. 25 back home against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Sharks had the day off Monday and will practice again Wednesday. The next time the Sharks have three full days between games isn’t until the second week of December.
“He’s not healthy, so when we have an opportunity to give him a day off, we’re going to take that,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said of Thornton. “If he
was healthy, he would have probably been out there today, especially after having yesterday off.”
Thornton reiterated Tuesday that his surgically repaired knee is feeling good, but wouldn’t give any clues as to what else might be ailing him, even withholding whether it’s an upper or lower body ailment.
Thornton was hopeful he’d be able to skate Wednesday, but in any case, the team’s goal is to make sure he’s as ready as he can be for Thursday’s game against Florida.
“It’s going to get better,” Thornton said. “I feel better today and I took this morning off, which is good, and then hopefully I’ll wake up and feel great tomorrow. Just kind of dayby-day right now.”
Thornton has three assists in the Sharks’ past six games when his evenstrength time on ice varied from 16:34 against Anaheim on Nov. 4 to 10:02 against Nashville on Nov. 1 and 10:42 against Vancouver on Saturday. Thornton’s total time on ice against Los Angeles on Sunday was
16:57, the second of backto-back games. At even strength, he finished with 13:30 of ice time.
“Struggling health-wise, it’s a battle just to get out there, but you want to help the team,” Thornton said when asked to evaluate his own play of late. “When you’re healthy, you kind of take it for granted how easy the game can be. And when you’re injured, it’s really, really hard to play this game.
“But I’ll get back to being healthy and playing good again.”
• Sharks forwards Barclay Goodrow and Joel Ward have developed some chemistry since they were put together on the same
line prior to the game against the Ducks.
While the two have combined for two goals and three assists in that time, they’ve also shown — for the most part — they can limit turnovers and control the puck in the opposing team’s zone.
“Making sure we’re just good defensively and I think when you do that, it leads to some offensive chances,” Ward said. “When you get a chance, just take the puck in and try to create as much as you can and hold onto it. The thing for us is not giving away the puck.”
Ward and Goodrow spent a fair amount of time together in October
as healthy scratches, with Goodrow sitting for 11 games and Ward out for five.
“We were sitting out a while together, spent a lot of time together,” Goodrow said of he and Ward. “It’s nice to have some success with him on the ice.”
There’s no ambiguity about the identity of the Sharks’ fourth line. With Timo Meier, the trio averages about 220 pounds.
“They’re hard to play against and that’s what we’re looking for,” DeBoer said. “They tilt the ice in our favor when they’re out there. From day one, that’s what we’ve been looking for out of our depth.
“You can’t necessarily count on goals from that group and we don’t necessarily hold them to that, or evaluate them on that, but we want the ice tilted in our favor when they’re out there.”
• Sharks defenseman Paul Martin skated again Tuesday but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to come off injured reserve and play against the Panthers.
“I’d like to play, but I just have to make sure I’m ready when it happens,” said Martin, who has been on IR with an ankle issue since Oct. 12.
Joe Thornton, carrying the puck against Tampa Bay, hopes to begin skating again by Wednesday.