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Preview/Lines #12: Burns Has Never Played More

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

In the face of Father Time, 36-year-old Brent Burns keeps on ticking.

Last year, he averaged a career-high 26:08 per game.

This season – goosed by 2/3 of the San Jose Sharks’ defense being in COVID protocol since Oct. 30 – he’s up to a team-leading 27:02, third in the NHL.

“Sleep is very important,” Burns said about taking care of his body. “I try to talk to the guys about just putting sleep in the bank as much as they can. Great coffee, great meat, good sleep, there we go.”

While Burns isn’t quite the offensive dynamo that he used to be – the days of scoring 20 goals from the backend appear to be over – he’s still plenty effective. In fact, an NHL scout suggested to me during the San Jose Sharks’ recent homestand that Burns might be better in some ways than in his Norris Trophy contending-prime, saying that the once offense-first defenseman has calmed his game down significantly in the defensive zone.

It appears that Burns has lent that same calm to his partner, Mario Ferraro. The 23-year-old has already set a career-high for minutes played in a game three times this season.

“We just talked about shift changes and trying to get off whenever we can. If we’ve started in the D-zone and we get it out, get off,” Burns shared, of his advice to Ferraro on how to manage big minutes. “I mean, it’s no fun. You might not spend as much time in the offensive zone. But that’s what we’re being asked to do right now. Not trying to rev the engine the full RPMs, all the way up. It helps conserve things.”

Noted iron man Andrew Cogliano – he of 830 consecutive games played – sees kin in Burns.

“He’s a true professional in terms of his preparation, what he does when he’s not at the rink and what he does when he’s at the rink,” Cogliano said. “There’s a reason why he’s still playing at a high level, there’s a reason why he’s playing the minutes he’s playing, you don’t do that without being prepared and being a professional and taking care of yourself.”

San Jose Sharks (6-4-1)

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Puck drop against Calgary is 6 PM PT at Scotiabank Saddledome. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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