Sharks spotlight: Brent Burns

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Sharks spotlight: Brent Burns

Sharks spotlight: Brent BurnsAge: 27 DIn his eighth season in the NHL, and first with the Sharks,defenseman Brent Burns had 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points and 34 penaltyminutes in 81 games. Burns was tied for 11th among NHL defensemen ingoals, and was 10th in shots with 201. He added a goal and an assistfor two points in five playoff games. Burns begins a five-year contractextension in 2012-13 at an annual cap hit of 5.76 million.
Kurz says: Burns was brought to San Jose in a highlypublicized deal a little less than a year ago, with the hope that he would bethe proverbial final piece of the puzzle after two straight Western ConferenceFinal defeats. He immediately improved the blue line depth, which was theSharks biggest weakness at the end of the 2011 campaign.And Burns did, in fact, show flashes of that player theSharks hoped they were getting when they made the deal. The 6-5, 230-pounder isamong the leagues best skating defensemen for a big man, and when hes playingwell, is responsible in his own end while also being a threat in the offensivezone and on the power play.Still, it seemed like a season-long adjustment for Burns,who admitted at the end of the season that he felt some pressure to help putthe team over the hump. That was reflected most in his physical play, which,although he never had the reputation as a nasty, Chris Pronger-type, seemed todecline in his first season in San Jose. The proof of that is in his penaltyminutes, as Burns went from 98 in his final year with the Wild to just 34 withthe Sharks. The Sharks miserable penalty killing may have also prevented Burnsfrom being as physical in front of the net and along the boards as he couldhave been.SLIDESHOW: Grading the Sharks
Brodie says: No Sharks player had more eyeballs on him inthe first half of the season than Brent Burns.Even though the team had brought in a hand-full of new players, theformer-winger seemed to be surrounded by more hype and expectations than anyoneelse. Integration was indeed a process for Burns, and one thattook a little longer than desired or expected.But in the end: he still led the blue line in goals, and finished theregular season a 8. Not to mention hestayed healthy for 81 games while averaging 22:32 per night, and kept hispenalty minutes low. Burns started the year with Vlasic as a partner, but rotatedthrough several more as the season went on.He certainly held up his reputation as an offensive-minded defenseman;putting 201 shots on goal (2nd by Defensemen behind Boyle), byjumping in plays and getting pucks through from the back end.When you look up the term fun-loving, a picture of BrentBurns should likely reside next to it.His outgoing personality was even more apparent as he naturally grewcloser to teammates this season. In thisregard, he is also the first known NHL player to purposely mess up a reportershair during an in-game bench interview.2012-13 expectationsKurz says: Doug Wilson made it crystal clear after theseason that he expects Burns to be here for the long haul and besuccessful in the process, calling Burns a stud, and saying he thought Burnsfirst year as a Shark was better than his final season in Minnesota. Whilethats certainly debatable, Id say its very likely Burns has a better seasonnext year. Hell be fully acclimated to the Sharks system and his surroundingswhen training camp begins, and other offseason changes to the roster that areexpected this summer should help decrease any pressure he felt a year ago. Thespotlight wont be on him anymore.
While he may not be a number one defenseman of the pedigreeof a Drew Doughty or a Ryan Suter, I expect Burns will improve in his secondyear in teal.
RELATED: Brent Burns stats splits game logs
Brodie says: Youve got to think at this point, BradStuarts name is already penciled in the lineup next to Brent Burns for nextseason. But no matter whom he skateswith, Burns should be at a greater advantage this year, now that he is wellremoved from his first trade as a professional.All of the variables including a new coach, new teammates and newsurroundings will not be a factor this year.A lot of attention is going to be given to the new playersthat San Jose will acquire this Summer, and even more towards the new systemsthey implement. This could give Burnsthe opportunity to thrive right out of the gate by not being such a focalpoint, and flying under the radar.

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

SAN JOSE – All four of the Sharks’ lines have been in a blender for much of the season. 

Now, with Logan Couture out for at least one game and probably longer, and Micheal Haley getting tagged with a one-game suspension, the coaching staff has no choice but to mix and match the remaining forwards in time for Tuesday’s home game with the Rangers.

They’ll hope it’s the right recipe to snap out of what has been a miserable six-game losing streak in regulation, including the last two in which the Sharks have been outscored 13-3 by Dallas and Nashville.

The most notable player to be shifted is Patrick Marleau, who will apparently be centering the second line against New York. It will be just the fifth game he starts at center this season, and first since Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, when he was filling in for an ill Couture.

Marleau, of course, has played plenty of center over the years, including the second half of last season and first handful of playoff games when he was in the middle of the third line.

“I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t played center, so it’s just one of those things, move in and out,” Marleau said. “We’re interchangeable throughout the whole lineup, anyway.”

Marleau has been one of the few effective Sharks players lately, with three of the team’s last five goals. He has 26 goals on the season, third on the team, and is fifth on the Sharks in points with 44.

“Patty is playing great. I don’t think we could ask for more from him,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Arguably a lot of nights this year he’s been our best forward. He’s playing hard, he’s playing strong. He’s been a real valuable piece for us. We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in this year without him and the way he’s played this year.”

Marleau is set to skate with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker, as Karlsson is good to go after missing the last eight games with a lower body injury. The 26-year-old Swede is having a nice season with 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

The third line featured Tomas Hertl between Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen, while Chris Tierney will center the fourth line with Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Karlsson, who confirmed he was ready to return, said: “Cooch is out, and we’ll see how long he’s going to be out, but I’ll do my best. I’m going to work hard, and hopefully can get going here.”

Marleau described Karlsson as “tenacious on the forecheck, causes a lot of turnovers. He’s hungry on that puck. He’s going to get his opportunities, and I’m sure he’ll put a few in the back of the net.”

* * *

Of course, the Sharks don’t care who scores the goals, just as long as it’s someone. It’s been a season-long issue for them to get their depth scorers to do more, and if they want any chance at reclaiming first place in the Pacific Division while Couture is out, that will be a necessity.

Among the players that will bring their scoring woes into Tuesday’s game will be Donskoi (no points 13 games), Hertl (no points in 12 games), Boedker (no points in 10 games), Ward (no points in six games), Sorensen (one assist in 10 games) and Tierney (one goal in 12 games).

Could Couture’s absence be a wake up call for those guys?

“I would hope it doesn’t take an injury to get that. That’s something we’re looking for, it’s something we’ve challenged the group to get more out of them,” DeBoer said. 

“They’re the first guys to recognize they’ve got to give us a little bit more. That’s been an ongoing process. The good news is they’ve all done it before. I feel that they all have the ability to raise their level another notch here before the playoffs. I think they have enough character that we’ll see that.”

Time is growing short, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks.

Marleau said: “When you go into playoffs, [secondary scoring] is usually what makes a difference. We need everybody contributing and guys stepping up at different times. We know that in this room, and guys are looking forward to doing that.”

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley has been suspended one game for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday in San Jose’s 7-2 loss, and will miss Tuesday's home game with the Rangers.

After absorbing a borderline hit from behind into the glass by Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame. He received a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.

According to the video released by the league, Haley “was seeking retribution” for the hit by Jarnkrok, who was already being penalized for boarding, and delivered a “forceful punch on an opponent who was not able to defend himself at the time.”

The 30-year-old Haley, who has never been fined or suspended before in his career, gave his perspective of what happened on Monday.

“We were breaking out there and next thing I know I was face first in the glass,” Haley said. “Just emotions [took over]. Kind of scared from the hit and I just went after him. Looked at him right in the eyes. He saw me. By the time I swung at him his face might have turned a bit. When I went at him I saw him clearly look at me, and I thought he knew I was coming.”

Haley expected Jarnkrok to engage him after the Predators forward delivered the bad check.

“I thought it was a pretty dirty hit, and I thought I gave him ample amount of time. I think he [had] enough time to know what I was trying to do, and trying to get him to fight.”

He added: “In hindsight, I wish none of it happened. I wish I didn’t get hit and I wish I didn’t punch him, but it happened. I don’t think I started it. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. If I missed that punch then we probably don’t have this conversation.”

In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.