EDMONTON, Alberta — Joe Thornton was scratched for Game 1 of the Sharks’ opening round playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, marking the first time he hasn’t been in San Jose’s lineup for a postseason game.
Thornton and Logan Couture took part in the Sharks’ optional skate Wednesday morning at Rogers Place and coach Pete DeBoer said then that both players would be game-time decisions. Thornton was not part of the Sharks’ pregame skate.
Couture was able to play Wednesday, his first game since March 25 when he was struck in the face by a deflected puck in a game against the Nashville Predators.
Thornton, who hurt his left knee in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on April 2, skated on Monday and Tuesday when the Sharks practiced in San Jose. Thornton said he felt good after the morning skate but didn’t know if he’d be able to dress.
Tuesday, Thornton took some line rushes skating in between Micheal Haley and Kevin Labanc, who were the Sharks’ other scratched forwards for Game 1. Couture centered the Sharks’ top line with Pavelski and Melker Karlsson on his wings, again, and spent time with the top power play unit.
“You want to play,” he said. “It’s the best time of year, so we’re doing everything we can to play tonight, so we’ll see what happens.”
Thornton had been a part of 121 straight Sharks playoff games since he came to the team in November 2005, recording 27 goals and 95 assists.
“You never want to risk further injury, but this is going to be Joe,” DeBoer said when asked about Thornton. “Joe’s going to make that decision and nobody else. He’ll tell us, and it’s not just whether he can play, it’s whether he can play a level where he can help us. He knows his body better than anybody, he knows his game better than anybody.”
The last time Thornton missed a playoff game was April 22, 1999, when he did not play for the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Oilers coach Todd McLellan on Wednesday morning had no doubt Couture will play, and figures Thornton will be a part of the series at some point.
“Jumbo, unless they cut his leg off, we’ll see him at some point in the series,” McLellan said. “That’s how he is. He’s an old-school guy that will find his way into the series. I don’t know if he’ll play in Game 1, but we’ll plan as if they’re in.”