A San Jose Sharks team that started off the season 7-0-0 hit a wall in the middle of the season, often struggling to score goals. As they continue pushing for a top playoff spot, the move of defenseman Brent Burns to forward continues to pay dividends for the Sharks. Burns had a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings, and now has 17 points in 18 games while playing up front.
Burns’ point totals place him sixth on a Sharks team loaded with offensive talent, even though he has played 18 fewer games than most of their other forwards. Coach Todd McLellan deserves a lot of credit for making the move, as it has provided a boost for his team. The Sharks have now won 10 of their last 13 games. Moving Burns up front hasn’t put their defense in a bind either, as Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, Jason Demers, Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have been solid in front of goaltender Antti Niemi. The Sharks have not allowed more than two goals in any of their last four games and they continue to hold down a top-ten spot in the league in goals-against (sixth).
The Sharks signed Burns to a five-year contract extension back in 2011, and given the recent boost to his value, have to be very happy to have him locked down long term. His best scoring season came in 2010-11, when he scored 17 goals and had 46 points for the Minnesota Wild. Those totals came from 80 games – he has nine goals and eight assists in just 25 games this season. As long as he keeps producing up front, Burns appears to be a permanent addition to the Sharks’ top two lines for the rest of the season.