SAN JOSE – Even Justin Braun was a bit surprised that he was able to return to the ice so quickly after undergoing minor left elbow surgery last Wednesday to clean up an infection.
“Woke up today, felt the pain was a lot less, and decided to give it a shot,” Braun said. “Felt pretty good out there. Good job padding it up and everything. Feel good.”
The defenseman won’t play against the Penguins on Tuesday, per coach Pete DeBoer, though. The Sharks were given a timeline on Braun’s injury and they’re adhering to it, even if the 28-year-old feels much better.
“We don’t [want to] get any reoccurrence, and we’re going to stick to that,” DeBoer said.
Braun and the Sharks seemingly avoided what could have potentially been a much worse situation. The Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky recently missed more than two weeks with the same type of injury, but all indications are that Braun will be back sooner than that. After Tuesday’s Penguins game, San Jose visits the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Braun cut himself on Nov. 10, felt healthy enough to play all six games of the recent road trip, but wasn’t right after the plane landed back in San Jose. The infection was discovered shortly after that.
“They can keep you in the hospital for months, so I was pretty happy they caught it the way they did and took care of it and made the executive decision go in there and clean it out,” Braun said. “I think it was the right decision.”
Meanwhile, injured Sharks forward Logan Couture continued to practice with the team on Monday. He skated for approximately 30 minutes, and is still not putting any timeframe on his return.
Although he’s skating aggressively, he indicated he doesn’t feel completely comfortable just yet. He’s fine when taking a normal skating stride, but cutting, stopping abruptly or taking that explosive first step isn’t yet where it needs to be.
“Until then, I’m not going to force my way out there and put myself in a bad spot,” Couture said.
There is also a mental hurdle for Couture to overcome from having a surgical procedure more than six weeks ago to repair his fractured right fibula at the ankle. He’s fortunate in that he has Mike Brown around after Brown had a similar injury last season that kept the fourth line forward out for most of the second half.
“[I’ve] just talked to him, asked him how he felt, the different things that have happened while skating,” Couture said.
DeBoer understands that the mental part of returning from an injury such as Couture’s could be the hardest part.
“When you have a significant injury like that where you’ve actually got surgically a rod and pins put in, I think the mental part is probably even tougher,” said the coach. “It’s mentally getting to the point where you’re not thinking about it as you’re going through a game or a practice. I think he’s in that stage, and every time he gets out there he looks more comfortable.”
Couture said: “It’s in the back of your mind. You remember how it felt when you broke your leg, or tweaked it a little bit one time. Just getting past that takes time.”
Although he’s now past the club’s official 4-to-6 week timeline for his return, Couture said he’s “where I thought I would be at this point in time.”