SAN JOSE — Like his crew, Brent Burns is catching a glimpse of simply how rapidly the image can change within the NHL.
After the Sharks earned a sixth consecutive win towards the Winnipeg Jets on March 12, they seemed just like the undisputed crew to beat within the Western Convention and Burns seemed to be the clear frontrunner within the race for the Norris Trophy. Now, after six straight losses, the Sharks are standing on shaky floor heading towards the playoffs and Burns’ grip on the Norris is beginning to slip.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty delivered a stinging blow to Burns’ candidacy on Monday, reinforcing the blue liner’s popularity for being a one-way participant. In a dialog concerning the Norris race, Doughty gave Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano a lift through the use of Burns as a foil, reminding voters concerning the perceived flaws in his defensive sport.
“I watch Brent Burns get beat 20 occasions a sport. That’s how I base it. And I like how Gio performs. I’ve bought tons of respect for Gio. He performs the sport the best approach. He performs the sport at each ends of the ice,” Doughty informed reporters in Calgary.
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In equity, the 2016 Norris Trophy winner additionally praised the offensive expertise of Burns and Erik Karlsson, saying, “they’re superb as offensive guys. None of us are near them there. We don’t have the offensive upside.”
The fact is that this: Burns’ Norris Trophy bid all the time rested on the shoulders of the rare-offensive numbers he was producing this season as a result of many citizens share Doughty’s opinion of his two-way play. In different phrases, Burns must out-score his popularity for being a defensive freelancer to win the Norris Trophy, and up till just lately, he was succeeding.
Again on March 4, Burns held a nine-point lead over Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly within the scoring race amongst NHL defenseman and a 10-point benefit over Giordano. With 72 factors and 59 assists in 66 video games, Burns was on tempo to report 90 factors and 73 assists, which might have made him the primary defenseman to hit both of these marks in 25 years.
No matter what voters take into consideration his defensive sport, these are laborious benchmarks to disregard. However Burns probabilities of getting wherever close to the 91 factors scored by Ray Bourque in 1993-94 or the 77 assists produced by Sergei Zubov that season are fading rapidly.
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With 5 factors in his final 10 video games, Burns is now on tempo to place up 83 factors this season. By recording three extra assists, Burns will move the 66 helpers that Karlsson amassed in 2015-16, giving him probably the most single-season apples from a defenseman since Bourque collected 71 in 1993-94. However Giordano is closing the hole within the scoring race, pulling to inside 5 factors of Burns with simply six video games left on the schedule.
With such a slim lead, will voters nonetheless be keen to award the Norris to Burns on the prowess of his offense alone?
As well as, the Sharks latest dip within the Western Convention playoff race can be prone to harm Burns’ Norris candidacy.
The opposite power of Burns’ push for Norris was the crew’s efficiency in Karlsson’s absence. Although Karlsson has suited up for simply 5 of the Sharks’ 27 video games since Jan. 19, the crew traveled residence from Winnipeg on March 13 carrying the most effective report within the Western Convention. The Sharks racked up a 14-4-1 report of their first 19 video games with out Karlsson partly as a result of Burns was choosing up the slack, placing collectively a generational season from the backend. It’s simpler to lose a two-time Norris Trophy winner when you have got one other defenseman who’s enjoying at a Norris-caliber degree.
Now, because the Sharks stumble towards the playoffs, the general public is trying on the crew with a skeptical eye, negating the bump that Burns obtained after they have been cruising alongside tremendous with out Karlsson. Final impressions depend on this sport.
And that brings us again to Doughty. Although Burns’ defensive contributions are sometimes neglected, Doughty spelled out the talk that will likely be raging in writers’ minds after they forged their Norris Trophy ballots in a few weeks. Now that Burns’ numbers are falling again into the stratosphere, voters will likely be asking themselves which defenseman has put collectively the most-complete season.
Doughty’s reply may resonate.
2. The rotating door on Burns’ left aspect continues to spin.
Within the wake of Joakim Ryan’s latest struggles, head coach Pete DeBoer skated Burns with Marc-Edouard Vlasic in observe on Wednesday, suggesting that the Olympic gold medalist would be the subsequent blue liner who will get a shot at filling the Radim Simek gap when the Sharks tackle the Chicago Blackhawks at SAP Heart on Thursday.
With Burns and Vlasic forming an excellent pairing, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun skated collectively on the Sharks second pairing whereas DeBoer re-united Ryan along with his former-Barracuda accomplice, Tim Heed, on the underside unit.
“We’re taking a look at some issues,” DeBoer stated after observe on Wednesday. “We’ll see the way it rolls out (on Thursday), however clearly, as a bunch, we’ve bought to play higher. We’ll take a look at some totally different choices.”
3. Joe Pavelski will miss his fifth consecutive sport with a lower-body harm on Thursday.
Although Pavelski skated on the Sharks morning observe, the crew is being further cautious with the Stanley Cup playoffs set to kick off on April 10.
“Progessing,” DeBoer stated. “Consideration for tonight, however we’re going to be good about it. Take the additional time.”