When Mario Ferraro had surgery to repair a broken lower left fibula on Feb. 27, he was expected to miss six to eight weeks.
So best case, Ferraro would come back to the San Jose Sharks in the second week of April. Worst case, he was done for the season.
Two days into April, a week before the most optimistic end of his original diagnosis, the blueliner returned to action against the Dallas Stars.
Teammate (and roommate) John Leonard said what was on everybody’s mind when asked if he was surprised at all by Ferraro’s quick turnaround: “No, and I don’t think any of you guys are either.”
The reality of missing more than a month of hockey, however, would quickly set in for even the irrepressible Ferraro.
“I think he’s had a little bit of trouble coming back from his injury, [and he’s] still trying to find his form. It’s not the Mario we saw pre-surgery,” head coach Bob Boughner admitted last week. “And, you know, he’s had a major injury, but he’s come back ahead of schedule and he’s still looking to get his timing down.”
It appears that Ferraro is back, which looking ahead to next year, is a promising sign for the San Jose Sharks.
“I did like his last couple games,” Boughner offered after San Jose’s 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. “I can see that jump back. He’s jumping the check, trying to end plays. I see that’s coming back.”
Ferraro (38) keeps a tight gap with and eliminates speedster Jordan Kyrou (25). He then beats Ivan Barbashev (49) to the chip and chase.
On the same shift, look how Ferraro explodes to the loose puck in the corner and evades the Barbashev forecheck.
Brent Burns (88) hands Nick Leddy (4) off behind the net to Ferraro, and the 23-year-old blueliner closes, forcing Leddy to rim it to Ryan O’Reilly (90). O’Reilly tries to give it back to Leddy, but Ferraro is right there. Ferraro kicks the puck to his stick and escapes the 2019 Selke Trophy winner, connecting with Tomas Hertl (48) for the exit.
“I feel back to normal now,” Ferraro noted, “I feel really good.”
Boughner added: “His ankle had some good surgery done to it, some major surgery, so to get that timing back and get your feet working with your brain, he’s back to game speed now.”
Here’s an example of that timing, your feet working with your brain.
Ryan Merkley (6) collides with Scott Reedy (54), then Barbashev bum rushes Merkley to ignite a 2-on-1 with Robert Thomas (18). It’s worth noting: The Blues are stacked, so this game was a useful barometer to help figure out which San Jose Sharks are ready for prime time next year.
#stlblues are loaded, by the way. They lead NHL with 8 50-point scorers and have 3 in the 40s (Krug, Saad, Faulk)
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 22, 2022
But I digress: Ferraro plays the 2-on-1 adroitly, going down at the right moment to deflect the Barbashev pass away from danger.
Ferraro joins the short-handed 3-on-1 with Matt Nieto (83) and Logan Couture (39). Nieto tries to shoot for the Couture rebound, but Jordan Binnington is able to direct the puck past Couture and into the corner.
Check out Ferraro on his horse, intercepting the counterattack pass to David Perron (57).
Another aside: We talked about situational awareness after the last game, in relation to defenseman Nicolas Meloche jumping up to join a failed 3-on-1 short-handed rush that resulted in a Columbus goal. The Sharks were up 3-0 at that moment, so that’s when you err on the side of caution.
San Jose was down 2-1 late here late, so this was the right offensive read by Ferraro and he recovered defensively.
While there wasn’t any concern that Ferraro’s recent surgery was career-altering in any way, it’s good to see his best once again before we close the book on this year.
“It’s obviously important going into the summer feeling confident, feeling good about my game, and working as hard as I can. So I definitely feel really good now,” the alternate captain said. “I just gotta keep that going for the next five games here.”
Safe to say, the San Jose Sharks are hoping that the pending RFA keeps this going for the next few years, at least.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.