NEW YORK, NY Sure, you were happy when the Sharks acquired Brent Burns this offseason. After all, Burns is one of the most well-rounded defensemen in the game, and filled a need that the Sharks were desperately missing last season.
You probably werent as happy as Marc-Edouard Vlasic, though, who must have figured right after the deal that he had a new partner on the blue line.
Vlasic and Burns are getting more and more comfortable with each passing game. While Burns was the one in the spotlight on Saturday night after scoring the game-winning overtime goal, though, Vlasic was busy making sure that game got to overtime at all.
We touched on this a little bit in the game recap of the 3-2 win over the Islanders, but its worth looking into a little more.
Vlasic made three key plays in the third period while many of his teammates appeared a little fatigued from the near end of a long road trip and second game in as many nights.
Early in the third, Islanders speedster John Tavares was a half step away from going in on a breakaway, but Vlasic was there to wrap him up as soon as the puck arrived on Tavares stick. A few minutes later in the third, Vlasic had the presence of mind to retreat from the offensive zone when he saw that she Sharks were about to lose possession. Doing so allowed him to keep an eye on Michael Grabner, who may be the Islanders most dangerous scorer after Tavares, and snuff out a scoring chance when Grabner was flying up the wing with the puck.
His biggest play, though, came on a shorthanded three-on-two rush with 3:27 remaining. Vlasic anticipated a pass to Grabner, kept his stick low to the ice, and knocked away a cross-ice pass that could have spelled trouble for the Sharks.
The stats are a reflection of Vlasics game. Hes tied for the team lead with a 6, is fourth in time-on-ice at 21:52, and has just one minor penalty all season.
Its tough not to watch Brent Burns as he flies around the ice, but Vlasics positioning and ability to defend allows Burns to do that in the first place. Never was that more evident than the third period and overtime on Saturday night.