The San Jose Sharks game is built on puck possession and when it comes to earning additional opportunities with the puck, one of the Sharks own is on top of the National Hockey League’s rankings.
has been frequently among the NHL’s scoring and assist leaders. But this year, the Sharks captain leads all with 55 takeaways.
Thornton’s 55 is six more than Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and eight more than Nicklas Backstrom of Washington and Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, who are tied for third place.
“Give Jumbo credit. If he’s at the top of that list, he’s done some very good things,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “When I think of that stat, I think of Pavel Datsyuk, I think of Thornton. I think of people that are tenacious on the puck.”
Six of the top-10 puck thieves are centers, so it’s not surprising that it’s a center who leads the pack, but to be situated in front of the entire League at the halfway point, and by better than 10 percent, that’s a statement to how hard the Sharks center battles for control.
“It shows you’re around the puck. It shows you’re competitive when you’re there,” McLellan said. “It says you have some hockey sense as to where the guy may position the puck when it’s on his stick.”
In addition to being committed to the defensive part of his game, it’s just another reminder of Thornton’s intelligence on the ice.
“He’s doing a good job of it,” McLellan said. “He’s around the puck, he’s anticipating where the play is going. He’s smart enough to reach where someone is positioning to puck to take it away (from them).”
In the end, when Thornton intercepts a pass or takes it away from an opponent through a physical hit, he puts the Sharks in a better position.
“You want to have it,” McLellan said of finding the puck.
A DAY OFF…FOR ALMOST EVERYONE
The Sharks had a day away from the ice Monday following a stretch of playing three games in four nights. Only injured forwards Joe Pavelski
and John McCarthy skated as they continue their efforts to return to the active roster
The Sharks practices at Sharks Ice at San Jose will be closed on the following dates:
- Wednesday, January 12
- Friday, January 14
- Tuesay, January 18
- Wednesday, January 19
- Monday, January 31
Former Sharks Coach Ron Wilson will return with his Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.