SAN JOSE – They are three very similar players, and when they’re on the ice together, they basically form hockey’s version of scraping your fingernails across a chalkboard.
All indications are that Adam Burish, Mike Brown and Andrew Desjardins will continue to play together as the Sharks’ fourth line when the season resumes later this week. Burish made his season debut in the final two games before the Olympic break, returning from a back injury, and coach Todd McLellan liked the results in wins over the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets.
“I thought that group of three did a very, very good job down the stretch, the two games that [Burish] played,” McLellan said. “They were perhaps as much the catalyst for us in the games as anybody else, individually or collectively.”
Desjardins, who has 11 points and 72 penalty minutes in 58 games, said: “I think it was pretty good. Burr had a lot of energy, after coming in after being hurt. I think we were prepared to keep up with his energy level. … We’re all kind of agitating kind of players, so I thought it worked out pretty good.”
When they are on their respective games, all can be extremely irritating players to skate against, and none will ever shy away from physical play.
Burish is more of a chirper, and was signed to a four-year contract in 2012 as much for his personality as his ability. Brown is one of the more effective middleweight fighters in the NHL, having beaten some opposing tough guys to a pulp since coming to the Sharks in October, and is always on the lookout for a big hit. Desjardins is a bit of a cross between the two, and probably has the most skill among the group.
They’re not going to score three goals a night, but they contribute in other ways. Desjardins and Burish, for example, will see plenty of time on the penalty kill, allowing some of the more skilled Sharks forwards to rest up rather than expend energy with the team down a man.
“They can wear down the other team’s defense. They are physical, they play an aggressive, agitating game,” McLellan said. “If they are successful in handling things in their own zone and get the forecheck going, they can be very effective. They can create momentum, and I believe they have the ability to score, as well.”
Burish said: “You kind of know what you’re going to get as far as what we can bring. Just some physical play, some energy, maybe frustrate some of their top guys a little bit, maybe pull them off their game.”
“As a player, you always want to get the trust of your coach. For us, it’s letting the staff know and letting the guys know that you throw us out there, you know what you’re going to get. It’s going to be reliable.”
Against the Stars and Blue Jackets, the fourth line saw a little less than 10 minutes of ice time at even strength. If that’s the case on a nightly basis, it bodes well for the Sharks, and their intentions to roll four lines.
“They are a very useful group of players,” McLellan said.