Sharks

Offensive coordinator Ludwig leaves Cal staff

Offensive coordinator Ludwig leaves Cal staff

Jan. 24, 2011CAL PAGE COLLEGE PAGE

BERKELEY Andy Ludwig has left the Cal coaching staff for another coaching position the school announced Monday. Ludwig spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Cal.

I appreciate all the effort and hard work Andy put in during his time at Cal, said head coach Jeff Tedford. I wish him all the best as he continues his coaching career.

Courtesy Cal Athletics media services.

Speedy Sharks and Golden Knights ready to fly on the ice in second round

Speedy Sharks and Golden Knights ready to fly on the ice in second round

Speed kills, and it claimed another two victims in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. The "heavy" playing style that powered three combined championships in Southern California since 2007 was left in the dust by a pair of speedier division rivals, the Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights, en route to the only sweeps so far this postseason. 

San Jose learned this lesson firsthand. In a six-game series loss during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the Sharks could not keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins' team speed.

Pittsburgh deployed three, mobile defensive pairings and sprinkled speed on all four forward lines. San Jose, meanwhile, had a few fast forwards in the lineup and strong skaters among its top-four defensemen, but its speed was only a relative strength against teams in the Western Conference.

Following the loss in the Final, the Sharks have infused their lineup with speed and skating ability. Mikkel Boedker was signed the following summer, and Evander Kane was acquired at this year's trade deadline. Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, and Marcus Sorensen debuted last season. Dylan DeMelo, Tim Heed, and Joakim Ryan played extended NHL minutes this season, and there's nary a Roman Polak in sight. 

Take it all together, and San Jose played at a high pace this season. Using team-level shot-attempt rates as a proxy for pace of play, as Sean Tierney of HockeyGraphs and The Athletic did with the graph shown below, the Sharks played at the league's third-highest pace this season. 

The Ducks were pretty far behind the Sharks on the season, at a rate of about five fewer shot attempts per hour. Keep in mind that data includes 67 games of Cam Fowler, one of Anaheim's best skaters on the blueline who missed the entirety of the first round with a shoulder injury. The Golden Knights don't rank as highly as one might expect, but still played at a faster pace than the Kings.

Vegas didn't have the same inciting incident as San Jose to fill its roster with strong skaters, considering the expansion team didn't play its first game until October. Instead, the Golden Knights saw the writing on the wall, and placed a premium on skating ability in the expansion draft, and in adding to their team afterward. 

"That was our basis for who we chose," Vegas pro scout Kelly Kisio told NBC Sports California in a February interview. "Guys that had hockey sense, and guys that could skate. If you have those guys, they will somehow make it happen."

43-goal scorer William Karlsson is a burner, and they acquired another one, Tomas Tatar, at the trade deadline. Blue-chip blueliners Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore were prized for their mobility well before landing in Sin City. Even bottom-six forwards like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and depth defensemen like Jon Merrill are good skaters. 

The disparity was clear in Vegas' first-round series with Los Angeles. Five-on-five, only three teams in the first round have accounted for a higher percentage of expected goals entering Friday (Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals) than the Golden Knights, according to Corsica Hockey. 

Neither Vegas nor San jose will enjoy gap in skating ability against one another, however, setting up a what should be a standout second-round matchup. The games will be fast, but the length of the first-ever playoff series between the two should be anything but. 

Steph Curry to begin participating in modified Warriors practices

Steph Curry to begin participating in modified Warriors practices

SAN ANTONIO -- After a four-week absence from all team basketball activities, Stephen Curry will return to the practice court for specified activities Saturday.

Curry was reevaluated Friday in San Antonio and was cleared “to participate in modified team practices . . . and the intensity of his on-court rehabilitation will continue to increase,” the Warriors announced in statement released Friday afternoon.

That Curry won’t be reevaluated until next weekend implies that, should the Warriors advance out of the first round, he almost certainly will miss Game 1 of Western Conference semifinals that could begin as early as April 28.

Curry sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain to his left knee on March 23 against the Hawks, missing the final 10 games of the regular season as well as the first three games of the first-round playoff series against the Spurs.

The examination, according to the Warriors, “indicated that Stephen continues to make consistent functional progress since the injury.”

Curry has been going through individual workouts daily, sometimes twice, in an effort to increase strength and range of motion. After the team’s shootaround on Thursday, he spent more than an hour going through light drills under the supervision of the training staff.

The typical recovery time for a Grade 2 MCL sprain is four to six weeks.