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.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.