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 Taven Bryan 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, 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 http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-clive-walford-jersey , 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, 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 Vinny Curry Color Rush Jersey , worked on the fourth line at practice Tuesday.
TORONTO — The Detroit Tigers will start a former Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Saturday afternoon for the second game in a row in another attempt to end a losing streak that has reached 10 games.
Former Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano could not do the job Friday night — allowing three runs in six innings — as the Blue Jays defeated the Tigers 3-2 in the opener of a four-game series at the Rogers Centre.
This time, the former Blue Jay is Matt Boyd (4-6, 4.15 ERA), who will face Toronto right-hander Sam Gaviglio (2-2, 3.98) in the second game of the series.
The Tigers (36-47), who are 13-26 on the road, have lost 10 games in a row for the first time since Sept. 13-22, 2003, the season in which they lost 119 games.
“We had some opportunities, but it’s the same story,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You pitch really good and you don’t score Markus Wheaton Color Rush Jersey , or you don’t pitch good enough and it just extends on. The guys are really trying, they’re bothered out there and they’re frustrated. They want to win, the guys are really pushing hard in the dugout, but it’s just not happening right now.”
The Tigers have lost 11 of their past 13 games in Toronto.
The Blue Jays (38-43), who were returning from a 3-4 road trip that easily could have been better, have won nine of their past 10 home games. They are 21-20 at home.
Boyd took the loss Sunday at Cleveland when he allowed six runs, eight hits and two walks while striking out five in three innings.
The start Saturday will be his 16th of the season.
In four career starts against the Blue Jays, Boyd is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA. He did not factor in the decision June 2 against Toronto at Comerica Park when he gave up four runs, six hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out three.
Boyd, who was sent to the Tigers July 30, 2015 http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-russell-bodine-jersey , as part of the trade that sent David Price to the Blue Jays, is 0-3 with an 8.66 ERA in four career starts at the Rogers Centre.
Gaviglio will be making his 10th appearance and eighth start of the season.
In his past three starts, he is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA and has pitched only 12 innings.
He has faced the Tigers once in his career, allowing two runs in five innings in a no decision.
The Tigers have been outscored 64-26 during their losing streak.
Before the game Friday, the Blue Jays selected the contract of utility player Darnell Sweeney from Triple-A Buffalo. He was batting .232 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 47 games. He has played all infield positions except first base, both corner outfield positions and also pitched a scoreless inning.
Sweeney takes the roster spot of outfielder Steve Pearce, who was traded Thursday night to the Boston Red Sox for shortstop Santiago Espinal, who will play at Class A Dunedin.
Moving Pearce means that Kendrys Morales will again see regular use as the designated hitter and breaks up a logjam in the outfield. The Blue Jays return to four outfielders with Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, Kevin Pillar and Curtis Granderson.
Espinal, 23 Nick Nelson Color Rush Jersey , batted .313 with seven homers and 32 RBIs in 65 games with Class A Salem in the Red Sox organization.
“Middle-of-the-diamond players, you can’t have enough of them,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Friday. “The athleticism, that’s where it all begins. If you can play in the middle, you can often play anywhere else, so that’s first and foremost. (Espinal) is an above-average runner and performing well at a decent level, so there’s plenty to like.”