SAN JOSE — Brent Burns is placing collectively one other historic season, albeit in a very totally different method.

Burns gained the 2017 Norris Trophy after he posted a pair of rare-statistical seasons together with his shot from the blue line. Now, he’s making one other run on the trophy awarded to the NHL’s prime defenseman as a set-up man, trying to turn into the primary blue liner to succeed in the 70-assist mark in 25 years.

“It reveals you what a particular athlete he’s. This man has all of it,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer mentioned. “He’s all the time acquired that shot as a weapon. I feel it’s the perfect within the league. However he additionally has that imaginative and prescient the place he can look and discover any person again door that nobody else sees.”

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When Burns gained the Norris Trophy two years in the past, he led the league in photographs on purpose (320), serving because the centerpiece of the Sharks offensive assault. He additionally fell only one purpose in need of turning into the second defenseman since 1988-89 to internet 30 targets in a yr. Throughout the Sharks’ Stanley Cup Closing season in 2015-16, Burns put up 353 photographs on purpose, making him the one defenseman in NHL historical past who isn’t named Bobby Orr or Ray Bourque to file 350-plus photographs on internet.

However as Burns continued to throw pucks into the blue paint at a nearly-unparalleled tempo, defenses began honing in on him increasingly, forcing him to regulate his strategy on the blue line. Now, when he attracts the protection out to the best level with the specter of his shot, he sends it again down low, creating more room for the Sharks big-bodied forwards. He’s additionally developed a talent for slinging pucks towards the edges of the web when taking pictures lanes are blocked, creating extra alternatives for targets off redirections.

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“That’s what nice athletes do,” DeBoer mentioned. “I examine it to a quarterback. In the event that they’re taking away the deep ball, you’re throwing the quick stuff. If it’s the opposite method round, you will have that means to regulate.”

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With 61 assists in 72 video games, Burns continues to be on tempo to hit the 70-helper mark, a feat final achieved from the again finish by Bourque and Sergei Zubov through the 1993-94 season. Erik Karlsson is the one defenseman who’s picked up greater than 65 assists in a season since that yr, gathering 66 apples through the 2015-16 season, a mark that Burns appears destined to eclipse over the following couple of weeks.

“I don’t even know who you’d embody within the (Norris) dialog with him,” Joe Thornton mentioned. “We’re spoiled seeing him day by day as a result of his skillset is so uncommon. I haven’t seen anybody else play like that on the backend in a very long time.”

2. Martin Jones will probably be incomes his paycheck over the past three weeks of the season.

After the Sharks morning apply on Monday, DeBoer mentioned he’d be giving the web to his No. 1 goalie as long as his group has one thing to play for within the Western Convention playoff race. With that in thoughts, it’s honest to imagine that Jones will play each ends of a back-to-back in opposition to the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Geese in Southern California later this week.

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The Sharks can clinch a playoff spot by incomes a single level in opposition to the Vegas Golden Knights at SAP Heart on Monday. They path the Calgary Flames by a single level for first place within the Western Convention. By profitable the Pacific Division, the Sharks can keep away from a first-round showdown with the third place Golden Knights within the playoffs, drawing a wild card squad as an alternative.

“He may need to play 90 % of (our video games) right here. We’re nonetheless combating, clearly, for first within the convention,” DeBoer mentioned. “He’s going to play till we don’t have something left to play for.”

3. DeBoer normally isn’t an enormous fan of seeing the Golden Knights on his schedule, however he’s embracing the chance to do some superior scouting for a possible playoff sequence with the 2018 Western Convention champions on Monday.

When the Golden Knights roll into SAP Heart, the Sharks will get their first take a look at the group that bounced them from the playoffs final spring because it made the most important splash of commerce deadline season by buying Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators.

Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights competes within the Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak through the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Expertise at SAP Heart on January 25, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Picture by Bruce Bennett/Getty Photos) 

With Stone, the Golden Knights can now ship out one of the crucial vaunted shutdown traces within the league, skating him on a unit with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The road’s means to skate in opposition to the highest forwards within the NHL frees up the trio of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson to obtain some favorable matchups.

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Normally, DeBoer likes to roll his 4 traces, taking matchups as they arrive, however Stone’s addition to the Knights lineup is giving him one thing to consider. With two video games remaining in opposition to Vegas, DeBoer will get a chance to determine how he needs to deal with a possible matchup together with his Pacific Division rivals within the playoffs.

“We’re going to take a wait-and-see (strategy). I need to see what they appear like dwell,” DeBoer mentioned.

“I don’t suppose you ever want to play Vegas. I’m glad we’re attending to see them after the commerce deadline with all their guys in place, in order that I can see that dwell.”


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