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Dan's View from Center Ice - 8/16/2013

Friday, 08.16.2013 / 12:09 PM
By Dan Rusanowsky - Sharks Broadcaster / The Daily Chomp
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The Daily Chomp
Dan\'s View from Center Ice - 8\/16\/2013

Who is the pivotal player on the San Jose Sharks roster for the 2013-14 season? Is it Logan Couture? Is it Joe Thornton? Is it Antti Niemi? Is it Raffi Torres?

How about a vote for the guy who plays both forward and defense, who is among the younger crop of star level players who are expected to perform, and who may be the most versatile guy on the roster? Yes, I’m talking about the guy who wears #88, Brent Burns.

With the Sharks defense looking positively fully stocked, it’s only natural to assume that the best use of Burns ice time will be up front, where he proved to be devastating to the opposition at times last year. His ice time was better managed, he still played the point on one of the Sharks power play units, and he wound up scoring 9 goals and 11 assists for 20 points in 30 games. If you play that out over an 82 game schedule, that translates into a 25 goal, 30 assist, 55 point season under normal circumstances.

In the playoffs, Burnzie was a huge factor in parts of the Vancouver sweep. I’m thinking of his 5 shots, 2 hits, and 2 assists, including an assist on the overtime winner, in Game 2 at Rogers Arena. I’m also thinking about his 6 hits, his even strength goal, and his heavy presence in Game 4 vs. Los Angeles, which turned out to be a 2-1 Sharks win.

There are a few advantages to using Burns up front, as we have seen. His sheer size and strength is overpowering to the other side when he’s skating in straight lines in north-south fashion. He can make plays quickly and instinctively, and is relying on a unique ability to take risks in a positive way for his club. He is aware enough of the responsibilities of playing lots of defense to get back quickly to help his teammates. He is also an offensive force without being a defensive liability when he plays the point on the power play.

Much of this change was made possible by the Sharks scouting staff, because their diligent work brought talented youngsters like Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Irwin, Justin Braun, Jason Demers, and Matt Tennyson to the fold. While Vlasic has ascended to a top level player, it’s also very gratifying to see that the others are beginning to fulfill the promise that the staff saw in them when they were playing in junior or college hockey.

That allows Burns to focus on right wing, and playing the point on the power play. He won’t play as many minutes up front as he will on defense – witness his average of about 18:17 of ice time during the Western Conference Semi-Final series against Los Angeles – but note that his contributions were more energetically and efficiently maximized during those very minutes. That fact makes San Jose a greater threat.

The versatility of Burnzie moving back to playing defense also helps, including when he plays the point on the power play and in the instance of any injuries. His tremendous skating ability allows for a smooth transition.

Mentally, Brent’s game is maturing as well. There’s always a bit of unpredictability with his game, but there is more method to the madness as the years and experience add on. In so doing, he makes the Sharks a more dangerous club when they hit the ice for a big game.

Off the ice, Burns is a staunch advocate of those in uniform. He understands the commitment of the armed forces, and through the Burnzie’s Battalion program, has made it possible for injured servicemen and their families to have a respite from these commitments with a night at the SAP Center and a Sharks game.

In summary, with a full recovery from his injury woes at the beginning of last season, and with a full year under his belt, Brent Burns could be that pivotal player who gets the Sharks skating to daylight in the battle for the Stanley Cup. It’s a big year for him and for the team.

All Sharks fans look forward to the journey that is starting in just a couple of months. We can’t wait to bring it to you on KFOX 98.5/102.1 and the San Jose Sharks Radio Network.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 47 31 10 6 139 124 68
2 NSH 45 30 10 5 137 104 65
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 47 30 15 2 148 108 62
5 WPG 48 26 14 8 135 117 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 45 26 16 3 124 114 55
8 CGY 47 25 19 3 136 125 53
9 LAK 47 20 15 12 129 126 52
10 COL 48 20 18 10 125 137 50
11 DAL 46 21 18 7 144 151 49
12 MIN 46 20 20 6 128 137 46
13 ARI 46 16 25 5 105 156 37
14 EDM 47 12 26 9 109 158 33

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 48 24 18 10 42
L. Couture 48 18 24 2 42
J. Thornton 44 10 27 0 37
B. Burns 48 11 24 -6 35
P. Marleau 48 9 24 -10 33
T. Wingels 47 11 14 -2 25
J. Braun 47 1 18 4 19
T. Hertl 48 8 9 -2 17
M. Vlasic 47 6 10 13 16
J. Sheppard 42 4 9 -2 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 19 11 5 .912 2.57
A. Stalock 5 5 1 .905 2.65
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