A mere five games ago, Alex Burrows had 10 goals and was on pace for a 20-goal season. Not bad for a grinder with a nose for the net. But he potted 28 last season and with linemates Daniel and Henrik Sedin having career years, Burrows should naturally be burying more of those dirty, down-low garbage goals.
Fast-forward through nine days and Burrows is suddenly on pace for a 33-goal season after being named the NHL’s player of the week. That’ll happen when you manage to bury the biscuit nine times in such a short span.
And what kind of goals were they? Exactly the type of goals that have transformed Burrows into a striker and separated him from your run-of-the-mill agitator: around-the-net goals that are a result of the Sedin’s cycling or a throwaway shot from the point.
While Vancouver has been getting career years from the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and even Mikael Samuelsson, Burrows had been having a little drop off in his production. And no matter if those other forwards put up the points, Burrows has to be revved up and in gear come playoff time for the Canucks to do damage.
In a seven-game series with games decided by a goal or two, garbage goals are back-breakers that steal momentum and help push teams further than perhaps their play would otherwise dictate. If the bounces go your way anything can happen, but you need the right players who can get those bounces.
Burrows’ crease-crashing style meshes perfectly with the Sedins’ puck-possession, down-low control. Whether they get a legitimate chance off a high-percentage shot or not, as long as the puck is directed towards the net, you can count on Burrows being there to turn it into a scoring chance. With the notorious secondary scoring issue gradually taking care of itself and Henrik pushing for the Art Ross, Burrows brings an unpredictable element universal to Stanley Cup champs and polishes the Canucks’ top six.
An undrafted player signed by Vancouver back in 2003, Burrows’ whole career has been unpredictable; who knew he would one day be the unifying knot on a line with two of the league’s top players? If his play of late becomes the norm again, the Canucks can focus on other fine-tuning projects such as acquiring a proper third-line center or perhaps shoring up the defense for a playoff push.
Now if the feisty Burrows can just play nice with the referees…
This article also appeared in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
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