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In praise of Brent Burns

Nov 22, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT


On Thursday night, Brent Burns returned to the San Jose lineup for the first time in 13 games.

The result? The Sharks scored five goals for the first time in a month, notched their largest winning margin since Oct. 15 and got their first victory at SAP Center since Oct. 19.

While it’s too simplistic to pin this all on Burns’ presence, his importance to the team is undeniable.

The Sharks are 9-0-1 this year with Burns in the lineup. He’s a point-a-game player (5G-4A in 9GP) and one of the team leaders in almost every fancy stat category (Corsi, Fenwick, etc.). But his presence goes beyond numbers, because it allows San Jose to mix things up at forward.

“Brent is a very, very big piece to this lineup and our team,” fellow forward Tommy Wingels told CSN Bay Area. “You can see his presence out there helps us as a lineup, and us as a forward group.”

On a line with Joe Thornton, Burns creates havoc. The former defenseman (who made the move up front after both he and the Sharks were struggling last season) goes 6-foot-5, 220 pounds while Jumbo Joe tips the scales at 6-foot-4, 225.

The space those two create has been a boon for rookie winger Tomas Hertl, who leads both the Sharks and all first-year players in goals, with 12.

There’s also a trickle-down effect when Burns is in the lineup.

Wingels, an energy guy, had been filling in for Burns on the Thornton line. But with Burns back, Wingels was able to drop onto a unit with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau and explore the offensive side of his game — which really paid off. Wingels had his first career two-goal game against the Bolts on Thursday and now has a career-high 16 points this season in just 22 games.

Things clicked further down the lineup as well. Todd McLellan put Martin Havlat with Joe Pavelski and Tyler Kennedy — a pretty talented third line by anybody’s standards — and skated a fourth line consisting of James Sheppard, Mike Brown and Andrew Desjardins.

“That [Couture] line played well against their top players for most of the night. I thought Marty, Pav and TK had a really good night. Those three looked like they belonged together, and played well,” McLellan said. “Good balance through those two lines.”

Again, it’s too simplistic to put all this success at Burns’ feet (or, skates). But one thing is for certain — San Jose is a more dangerous team with No. 88 in the lineup than it is without.

  1. jacketsfan7 - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    “In praise of brent burns” when I read that I literally thought brent died….

  2. mehetmet - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I was thinking there was going to be an article about some awesome charity event he did or something.

  3. thethorntonstrokes - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    I love Brent Burns. Truly one of my favorite player of all time. One of the classiest guys in the NHL, and lays puts his best effort forward. (I’m a Red Wings fan, not a Sharks fan)

    • thethorntonstrokes - Nov 22, 2013 at 2:03 PM

      Why on earth is this getting thumbed down?

      • endusersolutions2013 - Nov 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM

        I get dumb thumbs down all the time – really strange when you make a very objective, researched post vs. just opinion.

  4. sjsharks66 - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Burns is definitely a huge part in the locker room. Glad he is back and hope he stays healthy.

  5. ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 22, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Best power foward in the game IMO

  6. guitarhunterdude - Nov 22, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Honestly, I think Burnsie’s success is just as much a credit to Joe Thornton as it is to him. I remember the Wild trying him out at forward some when he was here, and it didn’t work out too well. Thornton can make anyone look good, really. Not a knock on Burns, just saying that Thornton really is awesome.

  7. greatmiamisportsmind - Nov 22, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    I’d still rather have Charlie Coyle than Brent Burns

    • 19to77 - Nov 22, 2013 at 8:10 PM

      I don’t think either team should regret that deal. Coyle’s a good fit for the Wild and Burns’ offensive game is well-suited to the Sharks. I doubt Burns would ever have been this productive in Minnesota and Coyle would have been buried behind Thornton, Couture and Pavelski in San Jose. One of those uncommon trades where both teams got better.

  8. williplett - Nov 22, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    I agree that this trade has been beneficial for both teams.

    Burns has prospered playing with elite players after being switched back to a forward position, but the trade was Burns and a 2nd for Coyle, a 1st, over 100 games worth of Devon Setoguchi and the 2nd in 2014 they got for dumping Seto on the Jets-who look like they have a decent chance of missing the playoffs.

    As a Wild fan, I really like what CF did with those moves.

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