VANCOUVER - Bumps and bruises are a fact of life late in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But you would never know it from talking to players from both the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks as they prepared for Tuesday's fifth game of the Western Conference finals.
Players from both clubs continued to downplay their pain after morning skates, Sharks captain Joe Thornton being a prime example. Thornton returned to the Sharks lineup after being forced to leave the fourth game with an undisclosed injury, but he wasn't offering any insight on his injury.
"Whatever it is, it's fine today," said Thornton after his club's morning skate. "That's all that matters."
He left Sunday's game in San Jose in the third period after he was checked into the end boards by Raffi Torres. The 30-year-old said there was never any doubt that he would play.
"I'm sure there's quite a few injuries, but this isn't one of them," said Thornton, who led the team in post-season scoring before Tuesday's contest. "I'm fine."
San Jose coach Todd McLellan also downplayed Thornton's injury while his teammates praised him for making the effort to return.
"It's big," said centre Logan Couture. "He's our leader. He's got the 'C' on his jersey. He's a warrior and he plays through a lot. So it's good to see him out there. He's one of the best players on the ice."
"Nobody's really sure how sore he is," added defenceman Dan Boyle. "He's just a presence to be around."
Boyle said Thornton's highly-publicized injury overshadowed the pain that many other players are contending with, and that fighting through pain is something you have to do this late in the season.
But it takes a lot for a player to leave the high-stakes action.
"It's do-or-die when you're in this position," said Boyle. "Obviously, there are a lot of guys wanting to come in. We've got a lot of extra guys. Sometimes you go with the guys that got you here who are not 100 per cent. That's just the way it is. Guys aren't going to miss this type of opportunity unless they absolutely can't go."
Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, who has been the subject of speculation that he is battling a lingering injury, said players from both teams are doing their best to conceal their pain.
How many players are skating with fairly serious injuries?
"I don't know," said Sedin with a grin. "I'm sure they won't tell you. It's a guessing game."
Notes—Canucks defenceman Christian Ehrhoff did not participate in his club's morning skate after missing Game 4 with an upper-body injury. He left Game 3 early following a hit by Sharks winger Jamie McGinn.…Sharks defenceman Jason Demers, out with an undisclosed upper-body injury since San Jose's Game 7 victory over Detroit in the second round, skated Tuesday morning and told reporters he feels 100 per cent. But McLellan had not yet decided whether he would play.