The San Jose Sharks' recent success has propelled them into third place in the Western Conference standings.
Antti Niemi has been a revelation in the recent past and credit to the goaltender is certainly due.
Logan Couture, however, has been an integral part of the Sharks all season long.
It's difficult to figure the Sharks' position in the standings if not for the highly skilled rookie and all of the attributes that he possesses.
Here's a look at some of the key factors that Logan Couture will bring to the table in the postseason. Without them, the Sharks, pardon the pun, will be dead in the water.
Couture showcases a respectable 53 percent faceoff percentage. He is the 29th-ranked man in the circle in the NHL, a decent stat to say the least.
Couple that with the fact that he’s only a rookie...
Couture averages 17:56 minutes of ice time per game.
He plays top-six minutes at even-strength as well as regular shifts on both the powerplay and penalty-kill.
He is a valuable commodity for the Sharks—few rookies are able to log so much ice time.
Couture is a bona fide top-six forward.
He leads all Sharks’ forwards in plus/minus rating with an impressive plus-15.
His even-strength game is especially important considering that the Big Three—Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Dany Heatley—have a combined plus/minus of minus-11, not a very desirable statistic to have.
Logan is certainly picking up the slack.
Coupled with the aforementioned plus-15 rating, Logan has also blocked 57 shots, 18th among NHL forwards.
Couture is not afraid to put his body on the line if it means keeping pucks out of the Sharks’ net.
Logan has scored 32 of his 48 points on the road, leading the San Jose Sharks in this stat.
It would seem that he thrives while skating in the opposing team’s arena—something that could really put a damper on home-ice advantage in the postseason.
Logan Couture has already scored 27 goals this season, two less than team-leader, Patrick Marleau.
He has scored three more goals than teammate and sharp-shooter, Dany Heatley, who is on pace to have a career-low in points and, who, quite possibly, won’t pass his previous low of the 26 goals he notched in his rookie campaign.
Couture has eight game-winning goals. He’s tied with Patrick Marleau for the team lead.
In fact, Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL in this category with only two more.
Needless to say, Logan has already shown his proficiency at scoring the Big One in his first full season.
The average age of the San Jose Sharks’ roster is 27.9-years-old—not young by any means. With his 22nd birthday approaching, Couture is the youngest player on the team.
After an 82-game season, veterans can grow weary and their play can deteriorate in the playoffs.
Thankfully, Logan’s young legs will be able to motor through into the postseason
Logan’s maturity is evident. He is, after all, one of the front-runners for 2011 Calder Memorial Trophy awarded to the NHL’s rookie of the year.
He’s compiled one heck of a rookie season. His 48 points are the second-most of all rookies, trailing the Carolina Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner by just four.
As all great players do, he should take his game up to another level and cement himself as a young star in the NHL come playoff time.
Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, and Patrick Marleau are the San Jose Sharks’ superstars, even if they have had disappointing seasons. When the playoffs come around, the opposition will pit their best defensive pairings up against the Big Three.
That’s when Logan Couture will strike.
Few teams are equipped with enough defensive-depth to account for a secondary scoring threat like Logan Couture.
He will be a difference-maker in the playoffs.