SAN JOSE – Brent Burns’ dominant offensive season has earned him a little more ink in the Sharks’ franchise record book.
The 31-year-old registered one goal and one assist in San Jose’s 3-2 win over Boston on Tuesday night. His 26th goal surpassed Sandis Ozolinsh for the most all-time by a Sharks defenseman, while his 64th point has him tied with Ozolinsh, who has his monster season back in 1993-94.
Burns spoke about the milestones after Tuesday’s game.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty cool honor,” he said. “I just think it means I’m playing with a lot of great players. You’re the recipient of a lot of great plays by guys.
“This year it’s been a great atmosphere. The energy here, the atmosphere we have at the rink with the coaches has been awesome. It’s just been a fun group to come to the rink every day and work. There’s a lot of things that go into that.”
Burns continues to lead all NHL defensemen in goals and is second in points, nine behind Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (73). His 64 points places him 10th in the NHL in scoring, right behind teammates Joe Thornton (67) and Joe Pavelski (66). He’s also second in the league in shots (292), trailing only the unparalleled Alex Ovechkin.
It’s the improvements to his defensive game, though, that have him in the Norris Trophy discussion. At one point sitting at a minus-15, Burns has brought his rating back up to minus-three, and at one point last week he was even.
“I think he’s done a great job of finding the line, the balance between when to go, when not to go [into the offensive zone]. Picking his spots,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He has the elite skill and the elite shot to be able to put up the kind of numbers he’s putting up. For me, the great part has been his ability to find that line without it being a liability defensively.”
Joe Thornton doesn’t get a Norris Trophy vote, but Burns would be on his ballot if he did.
"He has to be up for the Norris. The guy's unbelievable,” Thornton said. “He plays in all situations. When he's out there you feel like something can happen every shift. What a year he's having. Right now he's playing great hockey."
Incidentally, Burns had never scored against the Bruins before his attempted pass to Thornton ended up deflecting in off of Adam McQuaid’s stick on Tuesday. There’s just one team left in the NHL he’s never scored a goal against – the New York Rangers, who visit SAP Center on Saturday afternoon.