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 4, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
It blows the Kings goaltender’s mind that he’s not talked about more, so let’s discuss him.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:20 PM EDT
He used to have that role with the Calgary Flames.
Aug 4, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
They signed him to a one-year deal while fellow breakout rookie Mark Stone got a three-year contract.
Aug 4, 2015, 6:28 PM EDT
Jim Benning follows through after calling him a “foundation piece.”
Aug 4, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT
Assuming of course Bill Foley succeeds in his attempt to bring the NHL to Sin City.
Aug 4, 2015, 4:55 PM EDT
Where should we set the bar post-Babcock?
Aug 4, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
That didn’t work out for them.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
Yes, it’s the inevitable, perennial Red Wings question.
Aug 4, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT
MLBAM will handle NHL.com, Center Ice, Game Center Live and the NHL Network in 2016.
Aug 4, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT
Can Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek get it done, collectively?
Aug 4, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Adding a wealth of experience.
Aug 4, 2015, 12:22 PM EDT
The skilled Swede may or may not be ready to start the season.
Aug 4, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
He’s already made a positive impression on Jeff Blashill.
Aug 4, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
Mike Babcock’s act is a tough one to follow.
Aug 4, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The book has closed on the Mike Babcock era.
Aug 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Aug 3, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT
The squads will feature players that were part of either organization from 1996-2002
Aug 3, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
He’ll be fighting to be seen as the team’s third-string goaltender.
Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?
Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT
He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.
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