Wild's Burns seeks consistency

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2011 - 7:36 AM

The defenseman is trying to find his groove.

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Brent Burns skates back to the bench during last Friday's game.

Photo: Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

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SAN JOSE, CALIF. - With 43 points, the Wild's Brent Burns entered Thursday's game against the San Jose Sharks one point from setting a career high and one point from breaking the team record for defensemen scoring he shares with Marek Zidlicky.

But it was clear Burns couldn't care less.

"You don't really think about that stuff now," Burns said before the game. "I'm just trying to play well night after night and win. Winning is the big thing. We haven't been doing a lot of that and we want to get back to the feeling we had a couple weeks ago when everything was great.

"We need some bounces, and for that to happen, it's an attitude and a way of working."

When things are going well for the Wild, Burns is Mr. Happy Go Lucky. He hasn't been that way lately, not with the Wild's three-game losing streak heading into Thursday's game.

Burns and his teammates were all business Thursday morning as they try to rediscover what had made them so successful in January and February.

"Look at our team, we don't have that guy who's going to score 40 goals or 50 goals, but we have a lot of guys who lay it on the line every night," Burns said. "We have to do that to win. We know that. It's a matter of having everybody do it. When you work hard like that and you do good things, the atmosphere feels good and the wins follow."

Burns' strong play in the first half earned him a spot on the All-Star team, but his game has been erratic in the second half.

The coaching staff has been trying to get Burns to simplify his game defensively again. That means making a good first pass, not attacking the rush coming at him and "not overcomplicating things," coach Todd Richards said.

"It's why poor Schultzie's [defense partner Nick Schultz] got gray hairs coming. He's baby-sitting me all the time," Burns said. "I don't think anything's ever really changed. It's just things happen on the ice. Sometimes you're on the ice and stuff doesn't go well. Sometimes it does go well. Things go well, things go bad. It's just a matter of staying with it and staying off suicide watch."

Heatley suspended

Sharks winger Dany Heatley began serving a two-game suspension Thursday, meaning he didn't play against the Wild.

Heatley elbowed Dallas bad boy Steve Ott on Tuesday, although Heatley maintains he nailed Ott in the chest, not the head.

However, the timing couldn't have been worse for Heatley. That same day, the NHL was holding the general manager's meetings in Florida, where officials vowed to continue to crack down on head shots.

Asked what he thought of Ott, known to be a dirty player, calling Heatley's infraction "cheap," Heatley said, "I'm not going to get into a war of words with him. Obviously he's taken his fair share of suspensions in the league. For him to all of the sudden have a halo on his head is kind of funny."

Etc.

• Zidlicky, who has a tight hamstring, missed Thursday's game, while goalie Jose Theodore, who missed Wednesday's practice because of illness, was able to back up Niklas Backstrom.

• Richards said left winger Guillaume Latendresse (lower body) and defenseman Cam Barker (back) are "obviously both still a bit a ways" from playing. That means Latendresse almost certainly will miss Sunday's game against his former team, Montreal.

• Wild farmhand Jed Ortmeyer, who was a finalist for the Bill Masterton Trophy won by Theodore last NHL season, has been nominated for the Fred T. Hunt Award, which goes to the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. Ortmeyer, who has torn an ACL twice, suffers from a blood clotting disorder and must give himself one, sometimes two injections of blood thinner a day.

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