Sharks

Cardinals leaning on surgically-repaired Carpenter in Game 2

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Cardinals leaning on surgically-repaired Carpenter in Game 2

SAN FRANCISCO Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter, really, has no business being on the mound for Monday nights Game 2 of the NLCS at AT&T Park.The 37-year-old former Cy Young Award winner wasnt supposed to pitch at all this year after undergoing a radical procedure in his right arm and neck due to something called thoracic outlet syndrome. But hell get the ball against Ryan Vogelsong as the Cards try and take a 2-0 series lead.
INSTANT REPLAY: Giants' comeback falls short
The motivation to pitch in the postseason is what drove Carpenter since even before he went under the knife in July after sitting out the entire regular season up to that point. After throwing just 17 innings in three regular season appearances in September and early October, Carpenter pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in the Cards Game 2 win over the Washington Nationals in the NLDS, working out of a few precarious situations in the process. That appearance in itself was an accomplishment, regardless of the outcome.As we came out of the surgery and started the rehab process, I felt inside that there was a shot, especially if we got to the playoffs, Carpenter said prior to Game 1.Carpenter, who had Tommy John surgery in 2007, got into some of the gory details of his surgery, which arent for the faint of heart.They go in there, they take out your first rib, which is underneath your collarbone, with a pair of hedge-clip looking things. And they also release and take out you have three scalene muscles, small little neck muscles, they take out the front one and the middle one, they get rid of those, because thats where the artery and the nerve go through when they come out of your neck.Carpenter said that he experienced extreme numbness that started in his arm before it headed north into his neck and even his face before the surgery, and described how those neck muscles became too big due to constant use over the years and that the nerves were having trouble passing through there.Cards manager Mike Matheny, a former teammate of Carpenters both in St. Louis and Toronto, credited Carpenters attitude and enthusiasm for him making it back to the field when no one on the outside realistically expected it to happen.Hes a competitor, like Ive never seen, Matheny said. The guy just finds a different gear when it becomes his turn to do something special.Of course, Carpenters impressive journey is really of no concern to the Giants, who will be trying to even up the series at 1-1 with the righty Vogelsong. The 34-year old Vogelsong pitched five innings in Game 3 of the NLDS, surrendering one run while walking three and striking out five in a no-decision that ended in a 2-1 Giants win and started their comeback against Cincinnati.Vogelsong faced the Cardinals once in the regular season, throwing seven shutout innings on just three hits in a 15-0 San Francisco win on August 8 at Busch Stadium. His success that night doesnt mean a whole lot now, though at least in his mind.For a lot of guys in that lineup, it was the first time they had seen me, he said.Vogelsong does like the fact that the game will be at home, though. His ERA at the pitcher-friendly AT&T Park this year (2.86) was a full run lower than his road ERA (3.87).Its no secret, Ive said in the past that I definitely feed off of the energy that this crowd brings. Im sure its going to be pretty intense tomorrow night. Its pretty intense on a regular season game here in the middle of June. So, tomorrow night should be extra energetic.The Giants will be looking for their first win at home in the postseason before the series shifts to St. Louis for the next three.We cant get ourselves behind the 8-ball, so to speak, like we did last time and try to fight back on the road again, Vogelsong said. It was tremendous that we did it once, and I think it would be asking a lot of us to do it again.

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

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AP

Don't blame Joakim Ryan for Brent Burns' struggles

Over the last three years, Brent Burns played with only one defensive partner more in a single season than he has with Joakim Ryan in 2017-18.

That partner, of course, is Paul Martin, who’s missed all but two games this season due to complications from offseason ankle surgery. Martin is set to miss yet more time after experiencing a setback in his recovery, although the injury is not related to his ailing ankle, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Martin’s absence, combined with the fact that Burns has gone 20 games without a goal this season, has naturally led to questions about whether their separation is causing Burns to struggle.

That’s not the case.

Burns is actually playing a bit better alongside Ryan than he was with Martin. In just over 257 minutes together at even strength, the Sharks have controlled 55.74 percent of the shot attempts with Burns and Ryan on the ice, according to Corsica Hockey, up from Burns and Martin’s 52.13 percent mark together.

The Sharks are attempting more shots than their opponents when Burns and Ryan play, they’re doing so at a higher rate. With Burns and Ryan on the ice, the Sharks are attempting nearly nine more shots per 60 minutes than when Burns and Martin together, and just over two more shots per 60 minutes are hitting the net.

As we’ve written about previously, Burns’ scoring struggles date back to the stretch run last season, when he was playing alongside Martin. It wasn’t Martin’s fault then, just as it’s not Ryan’s fault now.

The puck simply isn’t going in. Through 20 games this season, Burns has 82 shots on goal and zero goals. Through 20 games in his Norris Trophy-winning campaign, Burns had 83 shots on goal and seven goals.

It’s not like Burns was super lucky then, either, as his 8.3 percent shooting percentage through 20 games last season was only one percent higher than his career average. Shooting at a zero percent clip after 20 games is, clearly, the outlier.

Together, Burns and Ryan have been more unlucky than anything else. When the two skate during five-on-five play, the Sharks are scoring on only 3.45 percent of their shots, much lower than the 8.26 percent San Jose scored on when Martin and Burns played together.

At 32 years old, it would be a stretch to expect Burns to match or exceed his heights from a season ago, but it would be an even bigger one to expect him to struggle much longer alongside Ryan. 

They've done everything right, they just haven't scored.

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

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AP

Sharks winger Joonas Donskoi has officially arrived

It turns out the top-six winger the Sharks needed to replace Patrick Marleau was on the roster all along.

Joonas Donskoi skated on Logan Couture’s line in Monday night’s shootout loss to the Ducks, and was San Jose’s best player. He scored the Sharks’ only two goals, and tied for the team-lead among forwards with four shots on net.

Donskoi added another goal in the ninth-round shootout, but his two goals in regulation were his sixth and seventh on the season. With those goals, he surpassed his total from an injury-riddled campaign a year ago, and stands three tallies clear as San Jose’s second-leading goal-scorer this season.

Due to Melker Karlsson’s injury, Donskoi skated with the Sharks’ leading goal-scorer, Logan Couture, and rekindled the strong chemistry the pair has shown since the Finnish winger arrived in San Jose in 2015.

Of the nine lines Couture has skated on for at least 50 minutes dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season, the three best in terms of puck possession have had Donskoi on his wing. Those three combinations have controlled at least 54 percent of the five-on-five shot attempts, according to Corsica Hockey.

Adding Tomas Hertl, who’s already a strong possession player, to that line bodes well for an even stronger second line moving forward. With Karlsson on the wing, the line controlled only 47.7 percent of the shot attempts, per Corsica, meaning the Sharks have been routinely out-possessed with them on the ice.

That was not the case with Donskoi in Karlsson’s place, as Donskoi posted positive possession numbers alongside Couture and Hertl on Monday, according to Natural Stat Trick. The results were there, as evidenced by the game’s opening goal, but it’s a good sign that the process was, too.

The same, frankly, can be said of Donskoi’s entire season up to this point. He likely won’t convert on over 18 percent of his shots all season, of course, but the Sharks have the puck more often than their opponents when he’s on the ice, and should continue to generate pressure, chances, and ultimately goals, even if Donskoi’s personal scoring comes down.

When Karlsson comes back, Donskoi should remain on Couture and Hertl’s line. That would allow the former to slide into a role better-suited to his game, and the latter to bolster San Jose’s top-six forward group.

Donskoi’s earned an extended look in that spot thanks to his resurgence, and subsequent emergence, this season. Thanks to him, replacing Marleau’s production suddenly seems much less daunting.