Skip to content

In praise of Brent Burns

Nov 22, 2013, 12:22 PM EDT

BrentBurns3

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Twins joining Triplets? Watch out if Stamkos, Killorn keep heating up

    May 22, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Steve Stamkos, Alex Killorn AP

    We really need to get these combos better nicknames, though.

  2. All eyes on Lundqvist

    May 22, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT

    New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three Getty Images

    The Rangers need The King to play like one tonight.

  3. Bettman refutes link between concussions and CTE

    May 22, 2015, 10:25 AM EDT

    Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Six Getty Images

    He also reiterates that the salary cap will be about $71M.

  4. Video: ‘I got bumped the whole game,’ says Crawford

    May 22, 2015, 1:30 AM EDT

    Getty Images

    Ducks trying to make life miserable for Chicago’s goalie.

  5. Bylsma free to pursue any coaching gig, says Rutherford

    May 21, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT

    Bylsma

    Pittsburgh GM won’t stand in the way.

  6. Sabres GM Murray lauds ‘great’ process with Babcock, confirms no deal ever in place

    May 21, 2015, 6:10 PM EDT

    Tim Murray AP

    “To have a guy of his ilk, considered one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League, taking a real good hard look at us in Buffalo after a 30th-place finish — I thought the process was great.”

  7. B’s sign Finnish forward Kemppainen to one-year, $700K deal

    May 21, 2015, 5:26 PM EDT

    Joonas Kemppainen, Jan Laco Getty Images

    Two-way contract for Karpat’s playoff scoring sensation.

  8. Will Hitch be back? Blues still ‘going through the process’

    May 21, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Ken Hitchcock AP

    “It’s something that we’re working on everyday. We’re trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.”

  9. Milbury’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ remarks about Perry discussed, says NBC exec (Video)

    May 21, 2015, 4:02 PM EDT

    Mike Milbury

    “Word choice matters, even when attempting to be humorous.”

Featured video

Babcock has his work cut out in Toronto
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Boyle (1390)
  2. K. Versteeg (1385)
  3. R. Callahan (1357)
  4. H. Lundqvist (1351)
  5. P. Kane (1297)