After getting off to an incredible start, 3 wins in 3 with two shutouts, the San Jose Sharks have been on the decline. In their last 12 games they have won 4 and lost 8.
The difference between those opening fixtures and now is the lack of Logan Couture. On October 15th Logan went down in training with an injury which turned out to be a fractured right fibula, at the ankle. On the 17th he underwent successful surgery but his prognosis declared him out for 4-6 weeks.
The Sharks commence a tough 6 game road trip this week, in which they will face: Detroit Red Wings – 13th, Buffalo Sabres – 14th, Boston Bruins – 17th, Philadelphia Flyers – 19th, Pittsburgh Penguins – 21st, Columbus Blue Jackets – 22nd.
The only redeeming factor about this torrid trip is that the puck drops at midnight (UK time) in each of these games so some earlier viewing for us Britain-based Sharks fans.
San Jose doesn’t play at the SAP Center again until the 25th of November, when they host current Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. But Couture may not even be back for that.
The end of his prognosis comes on November 26th, but even then added time needs to be considered for him to fully recover and get match fit.
Speaking to CSN Bay Area, coach Peter DeBoer has stated that Logan Couture will accompany the team on the road trip, but will not take to the ice prior to the squad returning to California.
At the beginning of this month Couture told CSN California that he’s still unsure about when he will return:
“I don’t know the time when I’m going to be back playing, skating or anything like that.”
Via his Twitter feed, the 9th overall pick of 2007 posted some encouraging news on the 1st November:
Though the Sharks forward only recorded a single assist in the first few games of the season his presence is clearly missed. Tomáš Hertl has been filling in as the second line center but doesn’t provide the same all-round game that Logan Couture does.
Hertl is still fairly new to the league, and serves as a great faceoff winner and sniper, but his second line team mates, Patrick Marleau especially, are far more productive offensively with a two-way playmaker like Logan on their line.
Couture is such an important player to the Sharks, he provides a keen eye for playmaking, a constant goal threat, great hockey sense, hard work at both ends of the ice and, he’s a pure team player.
The next couple of weeks still look pretty bleak for the flailing Sharks, especially as the lowest ranked team on the road trip, the Columbus Blue Jackets, defeated the Fins 5-2 at the Shark Tank earlier this month. Blue Jackets’ keeper Sergei Bobrovsky made 41 saves in that game.
It is possible that Logan Couture will return in San Jose’s last game of the month, against divisional rivals the Calgary Flames, but as DeBoer will know, he needs to be fully recovered before he skates out in an NHL game again.
Follow Ben Chopping on Twitter, and while you’re at it, follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!