Programming note: Sabres-Sharks coverage gets underway Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
SAN JOSE – For the first time since he was hurt on Oct. 19 against Calgary, Sharks forward Brent Burns was seen on the ice in full hockey pads, skating around the rink by himself at the team's practice facility on Monday morning. Previously, Burns was in a just a helmet.
Burns, who is recovering from a series of high hits and has missed the last six games, is still not able to practice with his teammates.
The Sharks have been vague when it comes to the details of Burns’ injury.
“Getting closer, from what I’ve been told,” Todd McLellan said on Monday. “He’s welcome back any time, obviously. We’d love to have him back with our team. From my understanding, he’s getting closer.”
Could Burns return to practice this week?
”I don’t have that. He and the trainers and the doctors know when that will happen,” McLellan said.
The Sharks are 3-1-2 without Burns, who has four goals and four assists in eight games.
His absence has been most notable during five-on-five play on the Joe Thornton-Tomas Hertl line, which has generated just two even-strength goals in the last six games, both in a 5-2 win in Ottawa on Oct. 27.
Freddie Hamilton, John McCarthy, James Sheppard and Tyler Kennedy have all skated in Burns’ place, with Kennedy the most recent player there against Phoenix on Saturday.
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Matt Irwin took his removal from the lineup on Saturday in stride. The defenseman had played in all 13 games before making way for Dan Boyle’s return.
“You respect that decision, and take it into your own hands to try and work hard to get back in the lineup and get back out there and help the team,” Irwin said.
McLellan wouldn’t reveal any possible lineup changes for Tuesday’s home game against Buffalo, and refrained from naming a starting goaltender against the league’s worst team.
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Jason Demers wasn’t completely shocked at being chosen for the shootout on Saturday. He said that he was set to go fourth in San Jose’s previous shootout game, a 1-0 win in Detroit on Oct. 21 that only required three shooters.
Demers failed to convert on his first-ever attempt.