The 24-year-old forward told csnbayarea.com that his surgically repaired right hand is ready for game action, starting Thursday against Philadelphia, barring an unexpected occurrence.
“I’m ready to go,” he said. “Feels good as it’s felt in three months.”
Couture had surgery on Jan. 8 and was expected to miss three to four weeks of action but the NHL’s two-week shutdown to allow some of its players to compete at the Sochi Winter Games afforded him more healing time.
Couture injured the hand in a Dec. 19 game in Los Angeles and played through pain for the next three before opting for surgery, costing him 16 games.
A native of Guelph, Ont., Couture still wraps the hand in practice.
San Jose returns from the break fourth in the Western Conference and second in the Pacific with a 37-16-6 record for 80 points, seven behind division leader Anaheim, which has played one more game.
With 14 goals and 35 points in 43 games this season, Couture was considered by many at one time to be a lock to make the Canadian Olympic roster until he hurt his hand.
Like millions of Canadians, he watched Sunday’s 3-0 gold medal victory over Sweden from Sochi on television, a game that featured Sharks forward Patrick Marleau and defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“I set the alarm for 4 [a.m. PT for the 7 a.m. ET start], watched the first and second [periods] and figured it was over,” said Couture, whom San Jose drafted ninth overall in 2007. “I think Sweden was a little outmatched.
“Like I said when it happened, it’s an impossible [Canadian] team to pick. They’re going to have a good team regardless of who’s on it. There are so many good Canadian players.”