SAN JOSE – For the first time since getting hurt in mid-October, Logan Couture skated with the Sharks for a full team practice on Friday as he continues to work his way back from a fractured right fibula at the ankle.
Although he wasn’t quite a full participant and wasn’t on a specific line, and left about 40 minutes into the hour-long skate, it’s another sign that the 26-year-old is getting closer to returning. Prior to practice Couture was on the ice with development coach Mike Ricci, skating more aggressively and seemingly testing out his ankle with starts and stops in front of the net.
“Looked great," coach Pete DeBoer said. "Obviously it’s a process and we’re just starting to ease him back in to the group with his fitness and everything else, but it was really nice to have him there and I think it’s a lift for the guys."
Couture also took part in an optional skate on Thursday.
“I was able to put my body in some different positions," Couture told the San Jose Mercury News. "I put more stress on the ankle area just to build up the confidence and make myself feel comfortable on the ice."
Couture said last weekend in Pittsburgh after skating for the first time that he didn’t want to put a timeframe on his return, but he's behind schedule. The team announced after his surgery on Oct. 17 that Couture would miss 4-for-6 weeks, but Saturday marks six weeks since he went under the knife.
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Injured Sharks defenseman Justin Braun remains out with an infected elbow that required minor surgery on Wednesday. Braun originally got stitched up after a cut on Nov. 10 in the Sharks' final game before their six-game road trip against New York, but an infection developed and was not realized until after the Columbus game on Sunday.
"Got off the plane, didn’t feel very good," Braun said. "Turned out it was infected. Bad luck, the whole situation.”
The 28-year-old defenseman had a bike ride and a workout on Friday, but his left arm is still visibly swollen. He hopes to get back on the ice "in the next couple days," but doesn't have a definitive timeline.
“I couldn’t tell you right now. Just on antibiotics, just make sure everything is cleaned out, and hopefully sooner than later," he said.
In 21 games, Braun has six assists and a +6 rating. Prior to Wednesday's game with the Blackhawks, coach Pete DeBoer called him one of the team's unsung heroes.
Braun was pleased with the way the first quarter of the season went for him and partner Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“The way Pickles and I were playing, going out there any playing against top lines every night, we were doing a pretty good job," he said. "We take a lot of pride in that. ... It was a good start to the year for us. Hopefully we get that going again.”