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Thornton, Couture return to practice

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Their return to the lineup on Wednesday remains unconfirmed.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Thornton (knee) and Logan Couture (face) returned to the ice on Monday, and participated during the Sharks’ first practice ahead of their first round series against the Oilers that begins on Wednesday. Couture wore a protective cage over his face, as the pair joined their first full practice since suffering their respective injuries.

Thornton and Couture both wore white jerseys, designating that they were on the top line, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Paul Gackle. During line rushes, Thornton skated with Marcus Sorensen and Timo Meier, while Couture centered Melker Karlsson and Joe Pavelski, according to Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group.

Pashelka and Friend of the Blog Kevin Kurz were both encouraged by Thornton’s movement, while Pashelka noted that Couture looked good as well. But, it remains up in the air whether either will play on Wednesday, according to Kurz.

As for the rest of the lines, Tomas Hertl once again centered Jannik Hansen and Mikkel Boedker, while Patrick Marleau skated between Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward. Hertl, Hansen, and Boedker controlled play against Connor McDavid last Thursday, but it remains to be seen how Hertl will be used with Thornton and Couture’s status up in the air.

Since Couture’s injury and Marleau’s subsequent move to center, Marleau has posted a 45.4 CF% and 48.41 FF%, 9.55% and 9.35% lower relative to the rest of the team, according to Corsica. Marleau played center in the first round last postseason, though, so it’s likely DeBoer will use him there if Couture or Thornton are unable to return on Wednesday.