Is Braun taking minutes from Burns?


Is Braun taking minutes from Burns?

SAN JOSE During the majority of Thursday nights win over the Minnesota Wild, the Sharks used a couple of new defense pairs.

Brent Burns skated with Colin White, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic was paired with Justin Braun. A quick look at the scoresheet says that the new pairs allowed Sharks coach Todd McLellan to balance out his minutes among the six blueliners, as they all played between 13:36 (White) and 22:08 (Vlasic) if you dont include time on the power play.

Heres the complete time on ice breakdown among the six against the Wild, again, taking out power play time.

Douglas Murray: 19:54
Colin White: 13:36
Dan Boyle: 18:07
Marc-Edourard Vlasic: 22:08
Justin Braun: 16:02
Brent Burns: 15:27

The end result, of course, was a good one. The Sharks held the Wild to just one goal and 22 shots, although Minnesota does score the second fewest goals-per-game in the NHL.

McLellan had been mixing things up a bit for portions of the win against Los Angeles on Monday, and explained his reasoning behind it.

We tinkered with it a few games ago, said the coach. Whitey and Brent Burns are both very big men and both veteran guys who can play against anybody, whether its a grinding line or offensive line. Vlasic and Braun continue to play real well. We like that.

We know were not going to finish the year with pairs that are stuck together. Were going to have to break them up. They do get stale. Right now, we like what we see.

One interesting take from that time-on-ice breakdown is that Burns and White saw less ice than their teammates during even-strength and shorthanded situations. Brauns strong play since he was recalled early in the season from Worcester has something to do with that.

In fact, Burns saw a season-low in ice time with 19:34 total - three minutes below his season average. Braun's ice time against Minnesota, on the other hand, was 19:23, just two seconds off his season high set the previous game vs. Los Angeles and two-and-a-half minutes above his average.

Now, that's not to say that Braun is cutting into anyone's ice time. Burns, of course, gets lots of time on the power play. It does mean that Braun is allowing the minutes to be more balanced out among the six defensemen in general.

McLellan gave a glowing review of the 24-year old after Thursdays morning skate.

We had hoped that some of those players (recalled from Worcester) could come in and steal jobs and take jobs away, and Brauny has been one of them. Hes forced some players out of the lineup because of his good play, and theres absolutely nothing wrong with that in my mind. Its a great thing to have in your organization and very healthy. His minutes have gone up because hes earned them. Hes a hell of a good young d-man.

Theres also a distinct difference between last years version of Braun and the one everyone is seeing now.

He feels like he fits in here now and should be playing. Last year he hoped he should play, said McLellan. Hes very confident and understands the league more. He understands his opponent a lot more and has played against a lot of these players and understands their tendencies. And, hes a lot more familiar with what were doing as a team and system-wise.

I feel very good about moving him all over the place.

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

Rewind: Vlasic the unlikely hero in Sharks OT win

SAN JOSE – Prior to the season’s start, Marc-Edouard Vlasic mentioned that the Sharks’ blue line group might not get the league-wide respect it deserves due to it only having “one offensive defenseman.” He was, of course, referring to Brent Burns.

Through the first six games, that was the truth. Burns entered Tuesday night’s action with nine points, tied for the league lead in scoring, while the other five Sharks defenseman had just three assists – combined.

For at least one night, though, it wasn’t Burns who was the offensive hero. That honor went to Vlasic, who seized a loose puck in the neutral zone in overtime against Anaheim, raced ahead towards goalie John Gibson on a partial breakaway, and finished off a beautiful goal in giving the Sharks a much-deserved 2-1 win at SAP Center.

“Put my head down, breakaway, cut across and I was able to put it in,” said Vlasic, who had the presence of mind to use his skate to keep a backchecking Corey Perry from knocking the puck away. 

Pete DeBoer said: "He's got some speed when he wants to use it, and he's a big game player. That's what he does. Those guys find another level at key times, and he's one of those guys.”

The goal served as poetic justice in that the Sharks were the much better team throughout three periods. San Jose held a 35-20 advantage on the shot clock but only managed one goal, a power play marker by Joe Pavelski in the first period. Chris Wagner answered that late in the second period, despite San Jose registering 15 of the 20 shots in the middle frame.

DeBoer rearranged all four of his forward lines after the Sharks were shut out in Detroit on Saturday, and the Sharks looked much more dangerous despite just the single lonely marker before overtime.

“There’s a lot of good little things that we did well,” Pavelski said. “We were on the attack, felt like we were on the inside. We just weren’t cashing in or getting that bounce.”

Couture said: “We created some chances. We could have had a couple. Each line played pretty well.”

DeBoer, too, liked what he saw from his new combos.

“If we keep playing like that, it's going to come,” he said. “But, it was a nice response game after the Detroit game.”

Perhaps the most consistent part of the Sharks’ game through seven games has been their penalty kill. San Jose fought off all three Ducks advantages, including a brief five-on-three in the first period shortly after Pavelski had opened the scoring.

Micheal Haley took exception to a high hit by Clayton Stoner on Patrick Marleau, and dropped the gloves with the Anaheim defenseman. He was issued an instigation minor to go along with a fighting major and 10-minute misconduct, and one minute and 24 seconds later, Tomas Hertl was busted for a faceoff violation.

Couture, Burns and Paul Martin worked to nullify the two-man advantage, and the Sharks proceeded to kill the remaining time on the Hertl penalty, too.

“It was an important time of the game with a one-goal lead,” said Martin Jones, who made seven saves on the PK and 19 total.

Penalties like Haley’s, where he was sticking up for a teammate, are also easier to get up for according to the goalie.

“I don't think he was expecting to get an instigator call on that one, but yeah, we'll kill that off, for sure,” Jones said. “Hales is a good team guy to go out and do stuff like that."

San Jose is 18-for-22 on the penalty kill overall, including a third period kill of a Joe Thornton holding-the-stick minor at 4:09.

“We’ve allowed [four] goals against, but they were unfortunate bounces or really nice shots from them that we could do nothing about,” Vlasic said. “Penalty kill has been good. Guys have been bearing down, blocking shots when we need to.”

The Sharks will remain at home where they will host the rebuilding Blue Jackets on Thursday and Predators on Saturday. After an odd training camp with many players missing and a tough five-games-in-eight-days road trip after the home opener, they’ll get a chance now to enjoy a much more normal day-to-day routine, with practice.

Tuesday’s win could serve as a solid foundation on which to build.

“That was definitely one of our better games this year,” Couture said. “It was good from basically start to finish.”

Especially the finish.

Instant Replay: Vlasic's OT goal lifts Sharks past Ducks

Instant Replay: Vlasic's OT goal lifts Sharks past Ducks


SAN JOSE – Last season, the Sharks had the worst home record of any team that made it to the playoffs. They’re off to a good start so far in reversing that in the 2016-17 campaign.

The Sharks won their second game in as many tries at SAP Center on Tuesday, beating the Ducks, 2-1. Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored the winner in overtime, flying up the wing and cutting to the net before flicking it past John Gibson at 1:24.

The Sharks ended a two-game losing streak, improving to 4-3-0 on the season. The Ducks fell to 2-3-2. San Jose has won nine of its last 10 against its Pacific Division rival at SAP Center.

The Sharks broke out of a power play slump with a Joe Pavelski goal at 7:58 of the first period. The captain managed to direct a Patrick Marleau rebound over the goal line just before the net came off of its moorings for his third goal.

The Sharks went just 2-for-17 on the power play on their five game road trip, with one empty net goal and another on a two-man advantage.

San Jose controlled play for much of the second period, outshooting the Ducks 15-5, but couldn’t increase its lead. Gibson stopped Micheal Haley from the circle midway through, and Joel Ward couldn’t quite handle a centering pass in front of the net by Logan Couture a few minutes later.

Anaheim managed to tie it late in the frame. Chris Wagner redirected a Clayton Stoner floater from the point and snuck the rebound through Martin Jones at 17:49.

The third period was scoreless despite three power plays, two that belonged to San Jose. The Sharks' top unit had plenty of zone time, but couldn’t connect on anything, leading to their first overtime game of the season.

Sharks coach Pete DeBoer rearranged all four of his lines after his club was shut out in Detroit on Saturday. Mikkel Boedker joined the top line, while Tomas Hertl centered the third line with Marleau and Melker Karlsson.

Anaheim’s Jonathan Bernier started the game and lasted one period before he was replaced by Gibson to start the second, due to an upper body injury.

Anaheim lost Ryan Getzlaf for the third period. He left the bench for a stretch in the second period with an upper body injury after blocking a Vlasic shot, returned, but did not come out for the final frame.

Special teams

The Sharks were 1-for-5 on the power play, and 3-for-3 on the PK.

San Jose was forced to kill off 38 seconds of a Ducks two-man advantage shortly after it had taken the lead. Haley was issued an instigator and game misconduct for jumping Stoner after the Ducks defenseman hit Marleau up high, while Hertl received a minor for a faceoff violation.

In goal

Jones ended a personal three-game losing streak with 19 saves.

In his second start of the season, Bernier made 10 saves on 11 shots before his departure. Gibson allowed just the overtime goal on 25 shots.


Matt Nieto came out of the lineup as a healthy scratch for the second time in the last four games.

Up next

The Sharks host the Blue Jackets on Thursday. It will be the second and final meeting, after San Jose beat Columbus on Oct. 15, 3-2. Nashville visits on Saturday.