SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Sharks will begin the second round of the playoffs somewhat short-handed after losing forward Adam Burish to an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Burish got hurt during the team’s 4-3 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night that wrapped up the first playoff sweep in franchise history. Burish did not return to that game after being slashed by Vancouver’s Alexander Edler late in the second period. Burish’s right hand was wrapped in the dressing room after the game.
Despite being a fourth-line player who had just one goal and two assists, Burish made key contributions as one of the team’s more physical players and as a reliable penalty killer. He played the third most minutes of any San Jose forward killing penalties in the regular season.
“It’s a tough loss,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “He’s one of those guys who doesn’t necessarily end up on the score sheet but having played against him he gets under other guys’ skin. He certainly got under mine when he was in Chicago. You kind of need that going forward. When the top guys are thinking about certain players versus what they have to do on the ice, that’s a bonus for us.”
Burish also brings a strong locker room presence based in part on his experience from winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. Coach Todd McLellan expects Burish to maintain that role even as he is sidelined by the injury.
“We’re definitely going to miss him out there but I think he’s a type of player that he will make sure that he’s around and talk to players and keeping everybody focused in the right direction,” forward Patrick Marleau said. “It will be great to have that part still. But on the ice being a penalty killer, faceoff guy. It’s going to be an opportunity for other guys to step up and try to fill that void.”
The injury news was better on other fronts for the Sharks as forward Marty Havlat took part in a light skate for the first time since leaving Game 1 of the Vancouver series with an injury.
Havlat said he has no timetable for a possible return but McLellan was encouraged by the progress he has made. The injury to Burish opens up a forward spot, putting more importance on Havlat’s possible return.
“This is the time that we dream of, the playoffs,” he said. “The situation is what it is. I’m just trying to get back as soon as possible.”
Defenseman Jason Demers also skated as he tries to return from a lower-body injury that has caused him to miss the final four games of the regular season and all four playoff games.
Scott Hannan, acquired at the trade deadline from Nashville, has filled in admirably in the playoffs, forming a physical defensive pairing with Brad Stuart.
With the second round not starting until next week, Havlat and Demers have time to recover and possibly make it back into the lineup. The time off is also welcome for players who accumulated plenty of bumps and bruises during the regular season and first-round matchup with the Canucks.
Only a handful of players even skated Thursday as McLellan wanted to give his regulars a couple of days to clear their minds before turning their focus to the next round.
The full team will plan to practice the next three days, by which time the Sharks could know their opponent and schedule for the second round.
“The coaches I’m sure are going to do a great job,” Hannan said. “We as players got to come in and bring it in practice. You got to keep your game at the highest level and treat it that way in practice when you’re out there. Just play hard.”
McLellan has assigned one coach to prepare for each of the potential second-round opponents: Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Detroit. The players won’t start looking at video until that is determined.
The Sharks had a similar layoff three years ago when they had a seven-day break between beating Detroit in five games in the second round and the start of the conference finals against Chicago. San Jose was swept in that series.
“We would whine if we only had one day,” McLellan said. “Now when we have five, people are looking for reasons for why it might not work. It’s our job to make it work. It’s our job to get prepared and be ready to play. The only answer to that question will be after Game 1, 2 or 3.”