SAN JOSE — Two days after being eliminated by the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Finals, the most popular topic at hand as the San Jose Sharks went their separate ways for the summer was injuries.
The common cliches of “every team deals with injuries” and “injuries are no excuse” were as prevalent as ever, but it is worth noting who did and who did not have significant injuries and how long they were dealing with them.
First and foremost, as most of you already know, Joe Thornton separated his shoulder in the third period of Game Four against the Canucks but also had a pinky finger in need of surgery. (According to San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Emmons, Joe Thornton said the pinky will need to be surgically repaired after a stick late in the regular season sliced deep into the finger).
But in fresh news, it turns out that Sharks defenseman Jason Demers –who missed the Western Conference Finals — suffered a high ankle sprain in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings. The second-year Shark blue-line admitted later that it came down to a decision about whether or not playing through it would do more to help the team or hinder their chances. According to Demers, it simply didn’t feel good enough to be of help to his team.
As for Ryane Clowe? San Jose’s third leading point getter in the playoffs behind Joe Thornton and Dan Boyle was also hampered by an injury.
“Same as what Joe had going on,” Clowe told reporters Thursday, referencing the same shoulder injury as Thornton.
Clowe wouldn’t give credit to Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall who delivered a strong check in Game 5 on the Sharks winger (Clowe missed the following game) but only admitted that the injury occurred in the Red Wings series.
Unlike his teammates, Dany Heatley was not forthcoming of his own injuries but both Head Coach Todd McLellan and GM Doug Wilson noted that Heatley played with a broken hand during the middle portion of the regular season and that he twisted his ankle in Game 3 against Vancouver as he tried to take a shot on net.
Calder Trophy candidate Logan Couture broke his nose on a collision with Clowe in Game 3 of the conference final but in terms of hockey injuries that was nothing the phenomenal rookie couldn’t play through.
Scott Nichol suffered a gash in his leg after a skate cut him in Game 2 against Vancouver, which caused him to miss the last three games of the series.
Sounds as if Dan Boyle will have one of his knees looked at for a possible sprain admitting he played through the playoffs with a brace but was good enough to finish second on the team in points in the playoffs and didn’t miss a game in the postseason
And finally Joe Pavelski did play through a bit of an ankle issue but wasn’t specified to a particular play or game, and sounded to be of a less severe nature than Heatley’s ankle issue.
Patrick Marleau and Devin Setoguchi reported they were both healthy.
“Nothing major, normal bumps and bruises,” confirmed Marleau, who also denied the need for any offseason surgery. “First season in my four years here, no surgery needed,” added Setoguchi.
Injuries were certainly aplenty for the Sharks, but nobody was using it is an excuse for not achieving the ultimate goal.
“It was our series,” commented Boyle, referring to the conference final. “I thought we were the better team coming in.”
Being hurt or not, many say the Sharks lost to a better team. And on paper that may be true, but the Sharks know they had a team more than capable of winning the series and the sting of losing was still extremely evident as the players went their separate ways.