When Raffi Torres made his debut after an ACL surgery earlier this season, the San Jose Sharks were ecstatic to have him back.
However, this was short-lived. Raffi returned and played a handful of games before being pulled from the ice due to “soreness”. Torres tore his ACL in a crazy collision last September and rehab has been slow but effective.
“I told you when he came back that there’d be days where he’d get rest and we’re going to manage him as we go,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We’ll play him when he’s ready and we’ll make sure he gets the rest he needs so that he’s able to maintain a high level.”
In his first three games back, Torres scored three times, reminding fans and teammates alike exactly what the forward is made of. His fourth game back against the Pittsburgh Penguins the physical side of his play returned. Torres made a few big hits which seemed to be the factor that turned the game around.
“The fans like it, and obviously other teams for sure are aware of him, looking over their shoulder,” said Jason Demers. “It pumps us up.”
The level of intensity Raffi brings to the game is a vital aspect for the Sharks. It’s obvious the team is having a hard time keeping momentum in games as of late, and the type of physicality Torres brings to the game could be exactly what these men need to step it up and finally make it to a Stanley Cup final.
But trainers must be smart and not push too hard too soon. Raffi said that “If my knee is doing good I’m going to push it. If it’s not, I’ll pull back a little bit and rest it. I just have to be smart.”
Last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings was a great example of what the playoffs have in store. It was a heated, physical and emotional game, where luckily the Sharks dominated overall and took the win. But the Sharks did not keep momentum on their side the entire game. In fact, the Kings dominated the majority of the first period. Raffi has the ability to pump up his fellow teammates right from the start, and having someone like him on the lineup is vital in playoff style games. Come postseason, there is no time to warm up. The Sharks must have intensity right out of the gate, and according to Wilson, Torres “changes the dynamics of the team.” And I must say, for the better.
Fellow players agree that Torres helps the team for the better:
“Raffi brings a whole different element to our team, and it’s kind of the fear factor,” stated Jason Demers.
“Raffi plays with as much energy as anyone in this league does with the way he skates. Other guys see him maybe going hard on the forecheck or finishing checks, and they want to hop on board,” said Tommy Wingels.
Whether it’s boosting the intensity level of his teammates, the fear other players may have of his physicality, or the way he can get a crowd riled up, Raffi Torres is a much-needed aspect come playoffs.