NHL Gameday: Keep an eye on Burns as Sharks host Blackhawks

NHL Gameday: Keep an eye on Burns as Sharks host Blackhawks

Programming note – Sharks-Blackhawks coverage starts at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN


Sharks: 10-8-1, 21 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 13-5-2, 28 points, 1st Central Division


***After playing a league-high 12 of their first 18 games on the road, the Sharks opened a five-game homestand on Monday by pounding the Devils, 4-0. San Jose is 5-2 at SAP Center, where it will remain for three more games after tonight’s meeting with Chicago.

“We’ve been on the road a lot. We feel good with our team,” Brent Burns said. “We know we’ve got stuff to work on, but where we’re at, we feel pretty good. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of these homestands.”

***Tonight marks the first of three games between the Sharks and Blackhawks, who sit atop the Western Conference. Chicago is coming off of its worst defeat of the season, 5-0 in Edmonton, to fall to 2-2-0 on its annual “Circus Trip.” 

While Blackhawks stars like Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith remain, the club is incorporating a number of rookies onto its roster. They have five first-year players that have played in at least 11 games.

“I think Chicago is one team that has done a real good job of incorporating young guys,” Pete DeBoer said. “It’s always easier when you have Kane and Towes and [Marian] Hossa and [Brent] Seabrook and Keith and those guys. But, they’ve done a good job of incorporating young guys into that group and still being very good.”

Tommy Wingels said: “They always have the speed and skill and the identity. Their core pieces are certainly still there. … Are the peripheral players a little bit different? Absolutely, but it’s the same guys driving the bus and the same guys you need to be aware of.”

The Blackhawks are 8-2-2 in their last 12 meetings with San Jose. The Sharks visit the United Center is less than a month on Dec. 18.

***Rookie Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda on Tuesday, so Kevin Labanc will get back in after he sat out the Devils game. Melker Karlsson remains out, too, but expects to play very soon.

Martin Jones will start in net.


Sharks: Brent Burns. The NHL’s third-leading scorer among defenseman will be playing his first game since signing a massive eight-year, $64 million contract extension on Tuesday. Burns, first on the Sharks in goals (7) and second in points (16), ended a three-game scoring drought with a goal and an assist against the Devils on Monday.

Blackhawks: Patrick Kane. The reigning Hart Trophy winner is off to another impressive start, leading the Blackhawks with 20 points (6g, 14a) in 20 games, good for fifth in the NHL. Kane led Chicago against the Sharks last season, too, with four points (1g, 3a) in three meetings.


Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Matt Nieto
Micheal Haley – Danny O’Regan – Tommy Wingels

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Martin Jones (starter)
Aaron Dell

Vince Hinostroza – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen – Marcus Kruger – Richard Panik
Ryan Hartman – Nick Schmaltz – Tyler Motte

Duncan Keith – Brian Campbell
Michal Kempny – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Niklas Hjalmarsson

Corey Crawford
Scott Darling


Sharks: Melker Karlsson (left foot/ankle area) and Tomas Hertl (lower body) are out.

Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body) is out.


“I never thought about it. I don’t think the guys in the room thought about it. I’m sure as a player that’s something that’s hard not to have on your mind. I thought he handled it exceptionally well, but I think it’s nice that that’s kind of put away and he can concentrate and put his full attention on the important things, which is winning games here.” – Pete DeBoer, on Brent Burns signing his contract yesterday

The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year


The anatomy of Jannik Hansen's recently-broken scoring drought after nearly one year

Jannik Hansen's game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday marked the first time he scored in 355 days. 

Hansen last scored on Mar. 30, 2017 against the Edmonton Oilers, his second goal with the Sharks following an in-season trade. His scoring drought, in all, lasted 44 regular season games, 50 if you include the postseason. 

How exactly does a goal-scoring drought last nearly a year? The right (wrong?) circumstances all need to come together, and that was certainly the case for Hansen for much of the last year.

For one, the Danish forward was in and out of the lineup. San Jose played 83 regular season and postseason games between Hansen's second and third goals, and he did not play in 33 of those games. Plenty of players have had rough 50-game stretches, and that's often without not playing for weeks at a time, as Hansen has done a couple of times this season. 

When Hansen did draw into the lineup this year, however, he wasn't generating offense at the same rate he had in the past. This season, Hansen's five-on-five shot rate (6.19 shots per 60 minutes), shot attempt rate (10.53 individual corsi per 60), and unblocked shot attempt rate (8.95 individual fenwick per 60) were all down from his career averages, according to Corsica Hockey. 

That decline is natural, considering Hansen turned 32 just six days ago. Those rates were not down enough, however, to expect him to fail to score in his first 39 appearances this season. Naturally, a long run of bad luck played a big role in Hansen's dry spell.

Hansen went 0-for-66 in shots over the 50 consecutive regular season and playoff games in which he did not score. He's a career 11-percent shooter, and had he shot at his career average, he would have scored seven goals during that time. That feels about right for a bottom-six forward. 

In many ways, all of these factors fed into one another. Hansen wasn't generating shots or scoring, then was scratched, then couldn't find the back of the net when he returned and was scratched again. All the while, fellow fourth-liners Marcus Sorensen (26.7 percent shooting percentage this season), Joel Ward (14.3 percent) and Barclay Goodrow (13.2 percent) were converting on their chances, forcing Peter DeBoer's hand. 

His possession play has been solid all season (50.74 percent corsi-for, per Natural Stat Trick), but the offense hasn't followed. When it does, as was the case Tuesday night, he can be an effective fourth-line forward, and the goal on Tuesday bought him more time to prove it. 

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win

Sharks blow out Devils for season-high fifth straight win


SAN JOSE -- Jannik Hansen scored his first goal of the season and fellow fourth-liners Eric Fehr and Barclay Goodrow also scored to help the San Jose Sharks win their season-high fifth straight game, 6-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Logan Couture added his 30th goal of the season, and Joe Pavelski and Mikkel Boedker also scored to give the Sharks a four-point lead over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division with one game in hand.

Brent Burns added three assists and Martin Jones made 26 saves.

The scoring barrage by San Jose spoiled Cory Schneider's return to net for the Devils. Schneider allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting pulled midway through the second period of his first start since March 8. Schneider has lost 11 starts in a row since his last win for the Devils on Dec. 27.

Taylor Hall scored his 32nd goal of the season and Blake Coleman also scored for the Devils, who lead Florida by just one point in the race for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers have two games in hand.

After Hansen and Fehr scored in the first period, Goodrow chipped one in midway through the second period on a surprising night of scoring from the fourth line when he beat Schneider on a 2-on-1.

Couture then scored 40 seconds later on San Jose's first shot against Keith Kinkaid for his third career 30-goal season. Boedker added San Jose's second power-play goal of the night late in the second and the rout was on.

The Sharks got off to a fast start in their first game back from a 3-0 Canadian road trip, scoring three goals in the first period and killing 1:20 of a two-man advantage for New Jersey.

The teams traded goals to start with Fehr beating Schneider over the shoulder from a bad angle and Hall answering when he stole a bouncing puck from Justin Braunand beat Jones with a quick shot.

San Jose then scored twice in a span of less than three minutes to take the lead. Pavelski tipped in a shot from Kevin Labanc on the power play to give the Sharks the lead.

Then after Jones denied Damon Severson from in close at one end, Dylan DeMelo sent a long pass that Hansen chased down and then beat Schneider on a breakaway for his first goal since March 30, 2017.

NOTES: DeMelo has 10 assists this month. ... San Jose D Brenden Dillon has a five-game point streak. ... Devils F Miles Wood (upper body) was scratched and Jesper Bratt played in his place.


Devils: Visit Pittsburgh on Friday.

Sharks: Host Vegas on Thursday.