Even the simplest of tasks like breathing and eating were painstakingly difficult for Logan Couture heading into the playoffs a year ago.
An errant puck had shattered his face and the injuries hampered Couture during San Jose’s first-round loss to Edmonton. They weren’t fully healed until the summer. The Sharks are counting heavily on a now healthy Couture to anchor a long playoff run this year starting Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round series at Anaheim.
”It was tough M.J. Stewart Color Rush Jersey ,” Couture said about playing through the injury a year ago. ”It was very difficult. I went from playing to not knowing if I would be playing in the playoffs. The injury, it affected my life more than hockey. It was difficult just waking up and dealing with day to day stuff. But I’m happy, happy to be healthy.”
Couture was hit in the mouth a year ago by a shot from teammate Brent Burns and missed the final seven games of the regular season with two fractures in his face. He came back for the playoffs with plastic and wiring to keep his teeth in place and played all six games, scoring two goals in a Game 4 victory, but he was far from his usual self.
Couture was a main factor in San Jose’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, leading the NHL with 30 points that postseason before the Sharks lost in six games to Pittsburgh. He’s hoping for the same type of spring this year.
”That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” he said. ”Just a blast to go to the rink every day. That was a special group that we had that year. It’s different each year obviously when personnel changes. I think about that run quite a bit, just how much fun it was. Just hoping to relive it.”
As well as he played during that run, Couture might be at his peak heading into this year’s playoffs after scoring a career-high 34 goals this season Joel Iyiegbuniwe Color Rush Jersey , posting 61 points and having the usual responsibility of trying to slow down the opponent’s top scoring line.
That performance helped the Sharks overcome the loss of Patrick Marleau to free agency last summer and Joe Thornton to a knee injury in January and helped Couture win the team’s MVP award, although he has loftier goals still in mind.
”I’ve felt good. The puck’s gone in for me. That’s the big thing. Just capitalized on opportunities. Scoring 34 goals is pretty cool. Definitely to be up in the top 20 in goal scorers in this league, in the best league in the world, is special for sure,” Couture said.
”The season’s not over. Obviously the goal for myself, and as well as our team, is to win it all. It’s tough to say it’s been a successful year until the year’s done.”
Couture will have plenty of responsibility this series to make sure the season doesn’t end too soon.
He’ll be a main part of the top power-play unit, one of the team’s most important penalty killers, tasked with slowing down Ryan Getzlaf’s line and provide offense of his own.
”The one thing about Logan is he has the ability to raise his level in important moments Sam Darnold Jersey Jets , in important times of the year as he’s shown in my time here,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”I expect the same thing. I think we kind of take it for granted but that’s what he is. He’s a great player and he has that ability.”
NOTES: DeBoer would not rule Thornton out for the series, saying only he wouldn’t play Game 1. … Eric Fehr and Melker Karlsson, who missed time late in the season, worked on the fourth line at practice Tuesday.
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros enjoyed their share of luck and made some of their own during their 12-game winning streak, but on Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, they tasted regression.
Well, at least right fielder George Springer did. Already mired in a miserable slump dating back one month, Springer had a potential game-tying Taron Johnson Color Rush Jersey , three-run home run snagged by Toronto right fielder Randal Grichuk with no outs in the ninth inning of the Astros’ 6-3 loss. Grichuk shifted from center field to right in the ninth to make way for standout defender Kevin Pillar.
Instead of pulling the Astros even at 6-all, Springer finished 0-for-5 with a strikeout and three runners stranded. He entered the series with a .196/.322/.353 slash line since May 26, the first game after he improved his OPS to .894 with a robust .305/.367/.527 line through 50 games.
“It sucks,” Springer said. “There’s not really anything else to say about it. It’s tough. It is what it is. They win.”
Despite opening Monday tied with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for the best record in the majors, the Astros (52-28) have been a bit unlucky in close, low-scoring games. While their pitching staff has performed splendidly in the first half of the season, the Astros are just 8-14 in one-run games and dropped to 7-19 when scoring three or fewer runs. Houston has run roughshod over opponents on the road, but the loss to Toronto dropped the Astros to a modest 23-17 at home.
“Baseball can be pretty cruel,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s a tough one. Right off the bat http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-p.j.-hall-jersey , I thought George got one. It carried and carried and carried and looked like he (Grichuk) had to go pretty deep into the stands to get it. George delivered a great swing. Cruel sport.”
Right-hander Charlie Morton (9-1, 2.74 ERA) will start on Tuesday for the Astros. Morton is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA over two career starts against the Blue Jays, with both coming last season. He has scuffled in June, going 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA while issuing 15 walks and posting six hit batsmen over 21 innings.
Toronto (37-41) will counter with left-hander Ryan Borucki, who will make his major league debut. The Blue Jays’ top pitching prospect, Borucki made the climb from Class A Dunedin to Triple-A Buffalo over the past two seasons. He was 6-5 with a 3.27 ERA over 13 starts with the Bison, recording 58 strikeouts in 77 innings. Borucki was scratched from his start on Sunday.
Selected by Toronto in the 15th round of the 2012 draft, Borucki missed the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. He slowly reclaimed his strength, logging 135 2/3 innings in 2016 and a career-high 150 1/3 innings last season. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons coyly refused to confirm published reports that Borucki would make his debut http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-sweat-jersey , but the secret is out.
“We’ll have the young kid going (Tuesday) so hopefully he gives us some innings,” Gibbons said in response to concerns over his fatigued bullpen. “Nice way to debut.”
When pressed that he accidentally revealed his hand, Gibbons quipped, “You don’t know what young kid. Could be one of three or four of them.”