Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Thornton says he's 100 per cent

Categories: San Jose Sharks, VAN vs. SJS, Vancouver Canucks

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San Jose captain Joe Thornton suffered an apparent shoulder injury late in Game 4, but the captain says he's 100 per cent ready for Game 5. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) San Jose captain Joe Thornton suffered an apparent shoulder injury late in Game 4, but the captain says he's 100 per cent ready for Game 5. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

VANCOUVER - Joe Thornton said he was fine six times, and "100 per cent" four times. That made 10 lies in the pre-game skate.

Thornton isn't fine. San Jose's team captain and best player has a crumpled shoulder (a rarely used medical term), but he did take the ice Tuesday morning and is expected to do so Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

How effective he will be remains to be seen, of course. He did not wind up on any of his shots, and his demeanour was largely downcast. But he does intend to dress and play.

"There are a lot of injuries (that could keep him out)," he said. "This isn't one of them."

But being in and being effective are two different matters, of course. And that is truly a game-time decision.

"When it comes to him I'm not surprised at all," defenceman Douglas Murray said. "No one has ever talked about him playing through different things because people don't know what's going on behind closed doors. I can't ever remember him missing a game because of injury. And he's had his fair share of injuries. He's been as effective playing with them. He'll be fine and it's a huge boost for the team. We have to feed off that.''

"It's not a big surprise for us that Joe is playing tonight," right-winger Ryane Clowe said. "I think he has the ability to play well even if he is nicked up a little bit. Don't expect much different from Joe. The guys expect him to be in there every night. He has been since I've been here. I think the only games he's missed is when he's been suspended. He's a horse."

But playing and playing well are the point here, and the Vancouver Canucks are not likely to applaud his effort so much that they forget to play him as though he were 100 per cent and in need of their collective attention.

"Everybody's got one or two things that are bothering them for sure," defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. "If you're playing the right way, blocking shots and throwing your body around, you're sacrificing yourself, you're going to get banged up. Luckily adrenalin kicks in once the puck drops, and you can play through it.

"I don't think we'll really focus on his shoulder too much," he added, giving the truth a bit of a yank. "He's a pretty hard guy to hit as it is. He's pretty slippery.
For me, if I get a chance to put him through the boards I do that, regardless of if he's got a sore shoulder or not. If don't (get that chance), I don't chase it."

Head coach Todd McLellan said that defenceman Jason Demers, who has missed Games 2, 3 and 4, is being considered for reinsertion into the lineup Tuesday. He had better be close to 100 per cent himself, for the risk of having two important players physically limited against a team like Vancouver seems like a dangerous game to play this close to season's end.


Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Devin Setoguchi
Ryane Clowe-Logan Couture-Dany Heatley
Torrey Mitchell-Joe Pavelski-Kyle Wellwood
Jamie McGinn-Andrew Desjardins-Jamal Mayers

Douglas Murray-Dan Boyle
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Jason Demers
Niclas Wallin-Ian White

Antti Niemi
Antero Niittymaki