Team could sure use Burrows

 

Almost ready: The Canucks have lost five games in row as injured forward gets close

 
 
 
 
Though Alex Burrows, seen here being flattened by two L.A. Kings in November, hasn't scored in 17 games, his return would help the struggling Canucks.
 

Though Alex Burrows, seen here being flattened by two L.A. Kings in November, hasn't scored in 17 games, his return would help the struggling Canucks.

Photograph by: Canadian Press Files, The Province

Alex Burrows is not going to help the Canucks power play much.

Everything else, however, is in play. He can make the first line better, the goal droughts shorter, and there is no way the Canucks can be worse in the final minute of games with Burrows on the ice.

Actually, scratch that. In the last minute of a Canucks game, anything is possible.

Sure, Burrows hasn't scored in the 17 games he's played this season.

But never before, I'm guessing, in the history of the NHL has a player who hasn't scored in 17 games been missed this much.

Give him this: He is due. "It's the law of averages," Burrows explained. "Something good is going to happen down the road. That's the way I look at it."

The Canucks need something good to happen and need it quickly.

Burrows hasn't played a game since Dec. 1, when a Chris Tanev clearing attempt broke his jaw in the second period of a game in Raleigh, N.C. He missed the next two shifts, returned to close out the second and then played 7:42 in the third.

More remarkably, he didn't miss the team dinner that night. That's some teammate. But Burrows has always been some teammate.

"Good thing it was the rookie dinner, I was able to numb the pain pretty quick," Burrows quipped Tuesday, his first day back skating with teammates.

In some cases, a broken jaw is wired shut for a month. Burrows's jaw was only in that condition for 7-10 days, meaning his body wasn't eroded for weeks by a forced liquid diet.

He also had a top specialist, one of the best in the world, in Nashville who was able to do the procedure.

"I was pretty lucky but too bad he wasn't in Carolina in-between periods to tell me something was wrong," Burrows said.

"The other doctor said, 'Go back out there, there's nothing wrong.'" On the ice this week, Burrows has been adorned with a protective jaw shield. He's been scheduled to return Friday against the St. Louis Blues, and he looks ready, though he will probably be listed as a gametime decision.

His return can't come soon enough.

The Canucks did win the first six games Burrows missed. But they have now lost five in a row. After the fifth on Tuesday, head coach John Tortorella tattooed his team with the word "fragile."

Good thing then that Burrows is about the furthest thing from fragile the Canucks have on their roster.

What the Canucks are enduring is a mid-season crisis. They have blown third-period leads in four of their past five games.

And now it's five times this year the Canucks have imploded late in games, choking on leads with the opposing goalie pulled. That's five times in 45 games. But Tuesday's was the worst. The Pittsburgh Penguins scored twice with their goalie pulled and they made it look easy.

Burrows actually wanted to play that game with his protective shield.

"That's what I've been thinking for a while, you want to be out there and you want to be helping the guys out," Burrows said. "But when you look at the big picture, you have to listen to what the doctors are telling you, what's best for yourself and the team in the long run.

"If it's going to take a few more days, that's fine with me."

The Canucks tried to win Tuesday without Dale Weise or David Booth, a pair of healthy scratches. The reason the coach gave is that neither is giving his team significant contribution.

Not sure that's ever going to change much.

In addition to the scratches, Henrik Sedin was wearing a protective guard covering the pinky and ring fingers on one hand, suggesting he's suffered a broken finger. He did not take faceoffs Tuesday night.

It's unclear how much he can contribute in the next few weeks as the injury heals.

So, the Canucks could use a hero, or two. At least, a spark, or three. There's only so much Tom Sestito can do.

Upon his return, Burrows will likely be right back with the Sedin twins. No winger has jelled there since he's been out.

Jannik Hansen played the most shifts with the twins, but has had only three goals in the 16 games Burrows has missed. More alarmingly, Hansen had just 23 shots on net.

Mike Santorelli played there Tuesday. He didn't get a shot on net.

What Burrows has always done is help make the Sedin line better defensively and it's through that solid defence they are able to generate puck possession, and, in turn, scoring chances.

It's probably going take weeks for him to get to mid-season from. That's just fine though. The way the Canucks are going, Burrows in preseason form can make a difference.

jbotchford@theprovince.com twitter.com/botchford

 
 
 
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Though Alex Burrows, seen here being flattened by two L.A. Kings in November, hasn't scored in 17 games, his return would help the struggling Canucks.
 

Though Alex Burrows, seen here being flattened by two L.A. Kings in November, hasn't scored in 17 games, his return would help the struggling Canucks.

Photograph by: Canadian Press Files, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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