Thorn­ton gets his rest be­fore sea­son heads to busy stretch

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Cur­tis Pashelka cpashelka@ba­yare­anews­group.com

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

Thorn­ton

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.

JOSIE LEPE — STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Joe Thorn­ton, car­ry­ing the puck against Tampa Bay, hopes to be­gin skat­ing again by Wednesday.

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