SAN JOSE Its one of the more remarkable statistics this season, and the superstitious Brent Burns doesnt want to talk about it. Not one bit.
Dont say anything. Nothing about it. Dont want to hear it, he said, even before presented with the question.
What were referring to is the fact that Burns doesnt have a minor penalty this season. In fact, he hasnt gotten the chance to warm the penalty box seat at all, after finishing last season tied for 11th in the league with 34 minors and 98 penalty minutes total.
So, well just have to ask his partner, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, about it.
Ill knock on wood for him, said Vlasic, who was unaware that Burns hasnt been penalized yet. That is remarkable, that he throws his weight around and doesnt get a high-stick, or elbowing or something.
What may be even more impressive is that the pair of Burns and Vlasic, which has spent virtually the entire season together, hasnt put the team shorthanded even once. Vlasic has just one minor penalty, and it came late in the third period in Detroit on Oct. 28, when he and Jiri Hudler took coincidental minors in a 4-2 Sharks win.
To put that in perspective, the tandem of Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray has 18 combined minors, with team-leading 11 of them from Boyle (including three in Wednesdays 1-0 win over Chicago).
Being in the right position, skating and having active sticks are the biggest reasons that Burns and Vlasic have escaped punishment from the referees.
You have to use your feet. Youve got to skate. I think were doing that, said Vlasic. Were in good positions, and you want to be aggressive and hit everything that moves, but in the D-zone when you have good positioning and good sticks and youre in the right places you dont need to take as many penalties. You dont need to hook or hold.
Todd McLellan said: They both have very good mobility and their stamina is good. A lot of penalties are taken later in shifts when you start to get running around or you get tired, and begin to reach.
As a team, the Sharks have been shorthanded just 63 times the second fewest total in the NHL. Burns and Vlasic are probably the biggest reasons for that.
For the amount of minutes that they play, yeah, it surprises me a little bit, said McLellan. But, well take it, and were happy with that.
And, those two dont shy away from the physical play. Theyre involved in it. Theyre doing something right.