The announcement we all knew was coming was made official today in San Jose. Captain Logan Couture will be out for a number of weeks with a fractured ankle.
His leg was in a cast during the media scrum this morning.
Couture’s left ankle in a cast today pic.twitter.com/e3rVS3EowO— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) January 9, 2020
The injury happened on Tuesday in St. Louis, during the second period of a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Couture went hard into the boards while competing with Blues defender Vince Dunn for a puck. He immediately went down and clutched his leg.
This morning, Couture spoke to the media for the first time about the injury.
Couture describes what happened, plus a shot of his cast pic.twitter.com/SgKfOCvO3m— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 9, 2020
“In the training room you get the video feed up, we’re just trying to figure out what exactly I heard when I went in,” Couture said. “They [the trainers] were able to see that my ankle went in at a weird angle and figure that’s what did it. It was just a weird play. He [Vince Dunn] nudged me a little bit when I wasn’t expecting it. It’s my own fault. I gotta protect myself when I’m going hard into the boards like that, so I take responsibility for not looking after myself properly.”
Couture thought it was a knee injury at first: "I thought it was my knee, my knee cap. Got off the ice, got my skates off, tried to put weight on my ankle, I couldn't. Figured something was wrong."— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 9, 2020
The exact time frame for an injury like this is tough to estimate, but Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson believes it is going to be at least six weeks, with continued reevaluation.
Per Doug Wilson & #SJSharks PR: Logan Couture "suffered a small fracture in his left ankle in Tuesday's game at St. Louis. He is expected to miss approximately six weeks but will be continually reevaluated during that time."— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 9, 2020
Who will replace Couture?
This is a massive loss for the Sharks. Couture leads the team with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists). He also spends a considerable amount of time on the power play and penalty kill, which means his absence will affect all aspects of the Sharks’ game moving forward.
The most obvious player to find his way into the lineup tonight is Antti Suomela. Suomela played during the road trip when Melker Karlsson was hit in the back of the head with a puck and missed a game.
Meanwhile, Tomas Hertl will be asked to step up and take on the 1C role that was filled by Couture. Head Coach Bob Boughner thinks this will be a good opportunity for Hertl to show whether or not he has what it takes to be a number one center.
Boughner thinks this is chance for Hertl to take mantle of #SJSharks No. 1 center: "Playing with Logan, I think you can get away with some things...He's going to have to take a little more pride on shutting the other team's line down...Tommy can't sacrifice offense for defense."— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 9, 2020
Playoff chances diminishing
With younger players being forced into larger roles, it’s getting tougher and tougher to envision a scenario where the Sharks make the playoffs. As of this morning, San Jose has 42 points and is 13th in the Western Conference. The team is nine points behind the Calgary Flames (51 points, 2nd wild card spot), and nine points behind the Edmonton Oilers (51 points, 3rd Pacific).