San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan is looking like a genius these days. After dropping three straight games, defenseman Brent Burns returned to the team not at the position he played for the majority of the past eight seasons, but at forward—a position he last played in 2009, according to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.
The result? Two goals in two games, and a Sharks team with a new offensive mentality on the ice.
Burns started on the top line with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture for the first time this season in Thursday’s win over the Los Angeles Kings, after Burns joined the line midway through the Sharks’ loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
Burns’ addition to the top line has enabled Logan Couture to inherit a multitude of scoring chances, with Thornton facilitating and Burns doing all the dirty work. Burns will not become an offensive juggernaut, but he will create scoring chances, and Couture benefited on Thursday with two goals and an assist.
San Jose needed some sort of change, though. Entering Thursday, the Sharks had just one win in regulation in almost a month. Although it does not seem likely that Burns’ spot as a forward will become permanent, he has been the team’s best forward in each of the two games he has played at the position.
Was Burns’ move to forward a desperation move for the Sharks? Absolutely.
There was little fueling the San Jose offense for the majority of the regular season, and with the defense continuing its dominance of the opposing teams, the offense needed some sort of jolt to wake up or else the Sharks were going to risk falling well outside of a playoff seed. With the tight Western Conference only picking up as the season wanes on, it was now or never.
Burns is the jolt to wake up the Sharks’ offense.
Whether or not he is the long-term solution to the team’s offensive woes is irrelevant at this point. Burns is producing and the Sharks are responding to his reckless abandon on the ice that has seen him tally two goals and one assist the last two games.
The Sharks are 1-1-0 since Burns made the switch to forward, but the pace of play and relentless attack on offense will lead to a much more resilient team heading forward.
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