All-Star weekend is about to get a lot hairier.
Reigning Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns will represent the San Jose Sharks on the Pacific Division team at the NHL All-Star game in Tampa on Jan. 28. It will mark his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance, and the fifth of his career.
After a slow start to the season, the 32-year-old was far from a lock to continue that streak. Burns managed to score just eight points, all assists, in his first 20 games, even as he pumped 84 shots on goal.
He didn’t score his first goal of the season until Black Friday, but since then, Burns has scored 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists). Over that span, Burns is tied for 14th-most among skaters in points, and tops all defensemen.
Despite the slow start, the Sharks blueliner is tied for sixth among defensemen in points (30), tied for eighth in goals (seven), and tied for seventh in assists (23). His 172 shots on goal lead all defensemen by at least 41 shots, and trails only Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Ovechkin, and Tyler Seguin.
His slump-busting stretch hasn’t moved the Sharks much in the standings. Before Burns broke out, San Jose held the final wild card spot in the Western Conference by virtue of fewer games played than the teams with whom they were tied. Now, they hold the third and final spot in the Pacific Division, tied with the Calgary Flames (48 points) with two games in hand.
Burns, who is tied for the team-lead in scoring with Logan Couture, was the only Shark named to the game. The Vegas Golden Knights (two) and the Los Angeles Kings (three), the top two teams in the Pacific, were the only teams in the division with multiple All-Stars.
Each team needed at least one representative, so it likely came down to Burns and Couture to get the nod on the Sharks. Given Burns’ (and his beard’s) popularity, it’s not too surprising the league let the Wookiee in, although Couture will have a decent case as an injury replacement.