September 15 2010 08:32AM
There is no doubt that every, any player, that spends time on the top line in Vancouver with the Sedins will benefit. However, no player has done more with their time with that opportunity than Alex Burrows. The Quebec native set career highs in goals, assists, points and many other categories. He scored himself a new $2m/yr contract last year as well. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted and was playing in the ECHL 5 years ago.
But Alex Burrows starts the year injured, recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. So upon his return, what does Burrows do for an encore to his career year? Does he match it? Better it? And does it depend entirely on the Sedins?
As mentioned, Alex Burrows went undrafted to start his professional career. He bounced around the ECHL, playing in Greenville, Baton Rouge and Columbia before signing with the Manitoba Moose. He played 1.5 seasons in Manitoba before getting called up by the Canucks in 2005-06, where he played out the year in Vancouver. Since then, Burrows has been a full-time Canuck. In those 4 years, he has missed only one game (playoff and regular season), and that was in his first full year in Vancouver. He was becoming the Canucks' iron man and his stats had steadily increased every year in the NHL. However, he will not continue those streaks as he recovers from shoulder surgery. He'll miss at least the first month of the regular season and will need to get into mid-season form quickly if he intends to make an impact this year.
Counting Stats: 35g-32a-67pts
Shooting Pct.: 16.7% (2nd VAN, 15th NHL)
CORSI ON: 11.7
Penalties Taken over 60 mns: 2.0 (Worst VAN, 3rd worst on NHL, min 30 GP)
Alex Burrows can simultaneously hurt and help his team. He's a sniper, he sees the ice well, he goes to the "dirty areas", and he has unarguable chemistry with the Sedins. But he takes penalties and lots of them. For Alex Burrows to take his game up another level, he is going to have to keep his discipline in check. For someone who skirts that fine line between agitator and finesse player, it is difficult. But Burrows has to do better about picking his spots. He already has a reputation around the league as being a diver and a bit of a rat. His ridiculous episode with referee Stephane Auger brought all of this to the forefront. So for Burrows to continue to improve, he needs to put that reputation aside and play some more discipline hockey. I'm certainly not suggesting that Burrows should never take a penalty again. That's not his game. He plays a bit on the edge. He likes to muck it up and he's terrific at it. It's how he is able to draw so many calls against the other team. But Burrows needs to cut down on the unnecessary calls, the calls that don't agitate, the calls that don't get the opposition riled up.
As he spends the first month (if not longer) in the press box healing, he'll get an even better sense of how the Sedins play, as he'll see their game at a higher level, literally. If he can use this time wisely and learn even more about how Daniel and Henrik use the ice, he'll be able to step in and make an immediate impact. Given that he will be out for at least a month to start the season, his total stats won't be as good as last year. But if he can continue to increase his per-game stats, he'll be seen as the unsung hero that he his.
Where Burrows really needs to step up is in the playoffs, where his stats show that he has had a real tough time. It's time for Burrows to show that he can play when it really counts. If he succeeds in the playoffs, so will the Canucks.