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.
Aug 28, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
You know, the one injured on “that” slash from P.K. Subban.
Aug 28, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Which is great news for Dallas.
Aug 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
The club’s top pick at this year’s draft.
Aug 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
Former Avs and Habs goalie spent all of last year in the AHL.
Aug 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT
Yet another NHL club hiring a fancy stats guy.
Aug 28, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Scored a career-high 19 goals and 40 points last year.
Aug 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Former Panthers, Devils head coach takes over a team that “hit a little bit of a rut.”
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After an up-and-down rookie year, he’s looking to solidify his spot.
Aug 28, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT
Legendary Isles coach had been battling Parkinson’s and dementia.
Aug 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Bit of an issue last season, if you’ll recall.
Aug 28, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
From little-used backup to clear-cut No. 1.
Aug 28, 2015, 10:03 AM EDT
It all comes down to goaltending.
Aug 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
Their playoff streak ended after 10 straight appearances.
Aug 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
The defenseman had 34 points in 66 OHL games last season.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT
He might end up with a two-year deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
He’s entering the final season of his five-year, $22 million deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:48 PM EDT
Playoff seeding will be determined by points percentage.
Aug 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
It could prove to be a bargain deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT
The Penguins are a win now team coming off of a quick first round exit.
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