McLellan on Havlat: 'We're starting to see him come around'
Marty Havlat has looked better lately, despite ongoing concerns that his style doesn’t fit with the Sharks’ north-south style. (USATSI)
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ST. LOUIS – In the Sharks’ 4-2 win over the Blues on Tuesday, performances from two players that have failed to produce of late were particularly noteworthy.
Brent Burns and Marty Havlat, whose names will forever be linked in Sharks lore after a series of trades with Minnesota in the summer of 2011, were important contributors in what was a significant victory for their club. Burns scored the game-winning goal in the second period, while Havlat deposited a vital third period goal and assisted on Joe Pavelski’s first period marker.
First, Burns. The big winger’s importance to the lineup has been well documented, but since he recorded his first career hat trick on Nov. 29, the 28-year-old had just one assist in his last eight games. Head coach Todd McLellan said on Tuesday morning that Burns’ game was not “where it needs to be,” but was delighted with Burns’ game against the Blues.
“Burnzie slowed down enough to find good shooting positions,” McLellan said. “He found quiet ice, we call it, ice that he’s available in. Slowed himself down enough to unload some really good shots. We haven’t seen that from him for a while.
“I thought [assistant coach] Jay Woodcroft did a really good job sitting with him and showing him some things, and he used them. Good for Burnzie, and good for our team.”
Burns, never one to be all that forthcoming, downplayed the adjustments that McLellan suggested were necessary.
“I work with [Woodcroft] all the time. I’m always working on things,” said Burns, who finished with four shots on goal and another three attempts blocked.
Did he feel like a weight was lifted off of his shoulders with the goal?
“No, I don’t think about it really. Do I like to score? Yeah. It was more about how I was playing, and I felt like I was still creating and shifting momentum. I think it’s a big thing for our line, is to shift momentum. Maybe it was not as much, but we still felt good about it.”
As for Havlat, the winger has failed to have much of an impact since returning on Oct. 30 from offseason pelvic surgery. He was made a healthy scratch on Nov. 15, was recently relegated to fourth line duty, and had just two goals and three assists in 19 games before Tuesday night.
But, Havlat has looked better lately, despite ongoing concerns that his style doesn’t fit with the Sharks’ north-south style. McLellan apparently liked the way Havlat was going against the Blues, putting him up on the Logan Couture-Patrick Marleau line, where he found some success late last season. Havlat started the game on the third line with Pavelski and James Sheppard.
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“I think he’s getting better every game. He’s accepting more and more of the responsibility that he has to for his play, and for the teams’ success, and he’s been a big part of it,” McLellan said.
“If we look at Marty, since he’s been back in the lineup, he’s only been a minus player three nights. That’s pretty darn good. There’s not a lot of guys that are in that situation. Would we like more offense from him? I think it’s coming.”
Havlat seemed pleased with his game against the Blues, and his line as a whole.
“I played with these guys most of the end of last year, and we had great chemistry,” Havlat said. “We had a couple of great shifts in the third. They’re both great players.”