Sharks

Sharks' Burns wins 2017 Norris Memorial Trophy as NHL's top defenseman

Sharks' Burns wins 2017 Norris Memorial Trophy as NHL's top defenseman

Brent Burns was presented with the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's most outstanding defenseman at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

He is the first-ever player in Sharks franchise history to win the award.

“At the end of the day it just shows that you’re around great people,” Burns said. “I’m lucky from day one Doug [Wilson has] really believed in me, [and] our coaches have been awesome.”

Burns, who quipped that he “kind of blacked out there for a little bit” when his name was announced, rattled off a list of past and present Sharks that aided him on his journey.

“I’ve said before, coming to San Jose and getting to learn from a guy like Jumbo (Joe Thornton), and Patty (Patrick Marleau), and Pavs (Joe Pavelski), and Clowie (Ryane Clowe), Boyler (Dan Boyle) – these guys all really helped change my mindset and the way I looked at the game. And Paulie (partner Paul Martin) now has been huge for me on and off the ice. I can’t say enough about how much he’s helped me.”

After finishing first among defensemen in the regular season with 29 goals and 76 points, and leading the league with 320 shots, Burns was thought to be the frontrunner ahead of fellow finalists Erik Karlsson from Ottawa and Tampa Bay’s Viktor Hedman. Karlsson, a two-time winner, was second.

Last season, Burns finished third behind winner Drew Doughty and Karlsson. This time, he got to walk up to the mic.

“Going up there doing a speech is a lot harder than getting forechecked by four or five guys,” he said.

Burns received 96 first place votes to 63 for Karlsson and three for Hedman.

Burns, 32, became just the second NHL defenseman to lead his team in goals (29, tied with Joe Pavelski), assists (47) and points, joining Kevin Hatcher (1990-91, Washington Capitals). Burns’ 29 goals were the most by an NHL defenseman since Mike Green had 31 for Washington in 2008-09. He played in all 82 games, posting a plus-19 rating with 40 penalty minutes.

Named as the Sharks team MVP as chosen by the local media, as well as the Fan Favorite award this season, Burns signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Sharks on Nov. 22, 2016 that kicks in next season.

The deal keeps him with the organization potentially through 2024-25.

Burns was also a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player as chosen by the NHLPA, but that was won by Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

Martin Jones has not made up for Sharks' recent defensive struggles

jones-martin-puck-goal.jpg
AP

Martin Jones has not made up for Sharks' recent defensive struggles

For just the third time this season, the Sharks scored three goals for the third consecutive game in Sunday night’s loss to the Wild. San Jose’s scored 13 goals in the last three games, which is a dramatic improvement for one of the league’s lowest-scoring offenses.

Sunday also marked the fourth time in the last five games the Sharks, one of the NHL’s best defensive teams, allowed four goals. All four have come in starts by Martin Jones since he returned to the crease on Dec. 2.

San Jose’s looked poor defensively in front of Jones following his return, and it’s been difficult to fault him on many of the goals. The Sharks’ defensive numbers over his last four starts match the eye test.

Normally, 21.66 percent of the shots Jones faces in five-on-five situations and 26.9 percent of the shots he faces in all situation are of the ‘high-danger’ variety, according to Corsica Hockey. Over his last four starts, those numbers are 29.90 percent and 32.23 percent, respectively.

But Jones also has not been up to his usual standards. At even strength this season, his high-danger save percentage is .798, and .821 in all situations.

Over the last four games, those numbers have fallen significantly. His high-danger save percentage at even strength is over seven points lower (.724), and nearly 13 points lower in all situations (.692).

So the Sharks, essentially, have allowed a higher share of high-danger shots in Jones’ first four starts after coming back from injury. Jones, meanwhile, hasn’t been able to offset that increase.

It’s unclear whether that increase, or Jones’ own performance, deserves a larger share of the blame. It’s clear, however, that the Sharks can’t expect to win if either trend continues.

San Jose’s remained in playoff contention this season because of their defense. As they’ve struggled to score, they’ve prevented their opponents from scoring, and won games on the backs of stingy defensive efforts.

The assumption with the Sharks was that, so long as their defensive effort remained level, an offense rounding into form would allow them to climb up the standings. The former’s gotten worse, and the Sharks are struggling more than their record would indicate.

Since Jones returned, San Jose is 2-2-1, and 1-2-1 in his starts. That mark could very easily be 0-2-2 or 0-3-1, if not for a three-goal comeback against the Hurricanes.

That’s worrisome ahead of one of the most vital stretches of the season. San Jose’s next six games are against divisional opponents, and they have an opportunity to gain significant ground in the division.

That opportunity will be wasted if the Sharks defense, and Jones, aren’t able to tighten up.

 

Sharks comeback falls short in wild loss to Minnesota

wild_beat_sharks_usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Sharks comeback falls short in wild loss to Minnesota

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE -- Nino Niederreiter scored 3:26 into overtime and the Minnesota Wild beat the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday night after squandering a three-goal lead.

Eric Staal scored twice and Ryan Murphy added a goal as the Wild extended their winning streak over the Sharks to four games.

Tomas Hertl tapped in a loose puck for San Jose with five minutes left in regulation to tie it at 3.

Hertl's goal followed a furious Sharks attack that Wild goalie Alex Stalock was able to fend off until a shot from Dylan DeMelo bounced off his shoulder pads and into no man's land just above the crease.

Brent Burns scored twice for the Sharks, who had won five of seven.

Stalock made 31 saves in his first appearance against his former team. Martin Jones stopped 20 shots for the Sharks.

The Wild, winners in four of their last five games, scored twice in the first 10 minutes. A series of sharp passes set up Murphy for a power-play goal just more than four minutes in. Staal sent a pass to Jason Zucker behind the net and he found Murphy for a 1-on-1 score.

Staal's first goal came after Ryan Suter recognized an advantage when Burns ran into Jones, knocking him off his feet. Suter delivered a pass to Staal, who easily fired it over Jones.

Early in the second period, Staal was able to push the puck through Jones' skates for a 3-0 Wild lead.

Burns got the Sharks on the scoreboard with a power-play goal during a two-man advantage late in the second period. Burns scored again on a power play with a slap shot from just inside the blue line midway through the third, his 12th multi-goal game.

NOTES: Sharks forward Jannik Hansen appeared in his 600th NHL game. ... Burns has six points in his last three games, including three goals. ... Murphy scored his first goal in 69 games. ... Staal had his second multi-goal effort in five games. ... Wild forward Jason Zucker has points in eight of his last nine games.

UP NEXT

Wild: Open a three-game homestand against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Sharks: Begin a three-game road trip in Calgary on Thursday.