ST. LOUIS – Brent Burns is the only injured Sharks player on their brief two-game road trip that ends on Tuesday night in St. Louis, and skated with most of his teammates on Monday at Scottrade Center. Head coach Todd McLellan left open the possibility that the defenseman could return to the lineup against the Blues.
“I would say he’s definitely trending towards playing here in the near future,” McLellan said.
Does that mean tomorrow?
“Near future is including tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Burns hasn’t played since suffering an apparent left leg injury early in the first period against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 23. He missed the first 10 games of the season with a lower body injury that’s unrelated to his current ailment.
On Monday, the defenseman Burns actually lined up as a winger with Scott Gomez and James Sheppard, although several Sharks players did not skate. No, that’s not an experiment the coaching staff plans on trying in a game.
McLellan said: “Sometimes you get him to skate a little more when he’s a forward, you know what I mean? [Former NHL defensemen] Doug [Wilson], Larry [Robinson] and Jim [Johnson] always debate with us how hard it is to play defense, but their heart rates don’t really get up that high. Forwards have to skate a lot more. It’s good for Burnzie to skate.”
Burns was tight-lipped, as is his standard.
“Just going for a good skate,” he said.
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The Sharks will close out the season series with St. Louis on Tuesday. They won here on Feb. 19, 2-1, but lost on Saturday at HP Pavilion, 4-3 in overtime, surrendering a 3-1 third period lead.
“They’ve been competitive games right from last year to this year,” McLellan said. “They are one-goal games every night. We were able to win in this building, which is a tough thing to do, which should give us a little bit of confidence. It’s a competitive game for us to play in and it’s good for our team. I don’t know that that’s going to change any night.”
The Blues are battling the injury bug, as forwards Vladimir Tarasenko, Andy McDonald and Alex Steen are all out.
“They’ve got a whole line that’s out right now that’s pretty damn good, so we need to take advantage of that,” McLellan said.
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That’s what several Sharks woke up to on Monday morning at their team hotel, which is smack next to a construction site, at approximately 8 a.m. After arriving in St. Louis on a flight from Denver in the early morning hours, several players were unable to get the rest they probably wanted to after a game and 90 minutes in the air the night before.
“A lot of us were up well before 8 a.m., but it was a late night for the players. They obviously wanted to sleep, so it’s not an ideal thing. But, you know what? We don’t control that, so who cares? Nothing we can do about that.”
That’s not necessarily true. Logan Couture, who tweeted about the unplanned wake-up call, said he planned on changing rooms on Monday afternoon.
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Matt Pelech was reassigned to Worcester on Monday. He was recalled on March 9, but did not play in either of the two games following the transaction. That means he was likely here as insurance, in case someone was unable to play due to injury.
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Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Brad Stuart, Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski were the Sharks that did not skate on Monday in St. Louis. The rest of the team started shortly before 1 p.m., and skated for approximately 45 minutes.