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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 [url=http://www.buffalobillsteamonline.com/jim-kelly-jersey]Jim Kelly Jersey[/url] ,” 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 [url=http://www.clevelandindiansteamshops.com/authentic-cody-allen-jersey]Cody Allen Jersey[/url] , 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 [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-dylan-larkin-jersey]Adidas Dylan Larkin Jersey[/url] , 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.
鈥?Patriots safety Devin McCourty got a closer look at James Harrison when the linebacker strolled through the locker room on Wednesday.It left an impression.“He’s a well put together human being. Scary-looking some would probably say,” McCourty said.The Patriots’ deal with the former Steelers star also raised some eyebrows in Pittsburgh, where some of his former teammates voiced their displeasure with the circumstances surrounding his departure on Saturday.“He erased himself; he erased his own legacy here. Let’s be serious,” Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said Wednesday. “It’s crazy. He wanted that. It wasn’t like the team said, ‘We want to let go of James Harrison.’ James Harrison wanted that.”The 6-foot-2 [url=http://www.steelerscheapshops.com/cheap-authentic-mason-rudolph-jersey]Authentic Mason Rudolph Jersey[/url] , 240-pound Harrison was unavailable for comment after his first practice with New England. He is expected to address reporters for the first time on Friday.Regardless of what led to his exit from Pittsburgh, just how much of an impact the 39-year-old Harrison can have with his new team remains to be seen.The two-time Super Bowl champion has competed against Tom Brady and New England during his 15 NFL seasons. Now he is in position to help the Patriots, who have faced the Steelers in the AFC championship game three times since 2001.He is Pittsburgh’s career leader in sacks, piling up 80 1/2 during his 14 seasons with the Steelers and 82 1/2 during his career. He briefly retired in September 2014 following a forgettable season in Cincinnati but returned when the Steelers ran into injury trouble.He joins a New England team that needs a victory over the visiting New York Jets on Sunday to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.“We’ll see. I don’t know,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of his expectations for Harrison. “We’ll get out there this week and see how it goes. I’m not really sure how it’s going to go.”No one is quite sure what Harrison has left in his tank. He has appeared in just five games and played a total of 38 snaps this season, posting only one sack.Anything he could provide would be helpful, though.New England’s defense has been racked by injuries this season. Fourteen different players have lined up at either linebacker of defensive end. It entered the week ranked 26nd in rushing defense and 29th in passing defense.Linebacker Trey Flowers, who leads New England with 6 1/2 sacks, said there’s no limit to what he can learn from a veteran like Harrison.“Everything really [url=http://www.jetsfootballauthentics.com/trenton-cannon-jersey-authentic]Youth Trenton Cannon Jersey[/url] ,” Flowers said. “He’s been doing it a long time. Very physical player. Obviously, in the weight room, just being able to keep his body strong and things like that. So, just a whole lot. … Anytime you get a vet that’s been doing it a long time, you can learn a lot from him.”NOTES: Brady sat out practice Wednesday with left shoulder and Achilles tendon injuries. Defensive lineman Alan Branch and running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee all sat out with knee injuries. … Receiver Malcolm Mitchell returned to practice for the first time since he went on injured reserve Sept. 7.AP freelance reporter Chris Adamski in Pittsburgh contributed to this report..
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