On a veteran team made up of Stanley Cup champions, an Art Ross winner and Olympic Gold Medalists, it was San Jose’s youngest forward that was the difference maker in the Sharks Game 1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night.
Logan Couture, 24, scored on a power-play to get the Sharks on the board after falling behind 1-0, and then assisted on Patrick Marleau’s goal to seal the win. Despite his age, the Guelph, Ontario, native's success isn’t surprising anyone on his club, including head coach Todd McLellan.
“I just think he’s come so far in couple of years, a full 200 foot game, both sides of the puck, power-play, penalty-kill, face-offs. His competitiveness is rubbing off on some of our older players and when that starts happening you’ve really made your mark.”
One of those veteran players who has really noticed the Couture’s superb play has been his captain Joe Thornton.
“I’ve been a fan of Logan’s since day one. Ever since he’s been in the league he competes at both ends of the rink. He just keeps getting better and better,” Thornton said of Couture.
“He really does everything for this team.”
The Sharks, who ranked second in the NHL in faceoff winning percentage (53.4%), dominated the face-off dot again in Game 1 taking 57% of the draws. The Sharks strength on the dot has been a point of pride for the franchise.
“It’s a battle. They are doing all the same things we are. We know it’s going to be competitive and it’s a focal point,” said Joe Pavelski, who won 58% of his draws.
“It’s a competitive battle, you hope to win them. Usually it’s a good indicator with our team and you go from there.”
Todd McLellan was tight-lipped regarding the health situation of two of his top forwards, Martin Havlat and Scott Gomez, prior to the team’s skate on Thursday.
“Both are getting treatments like all the other players in the playoffs. Bumps and bruises and we will know more tomorrow.” The Sharks coach then added, "It's playoffs guys, you know we are going to give you anything."
Havlat played only 3:16 before leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. The 32 year-old Czech winger also sat out the Sharks final regular season game.