Alex Burrows had a fabulous season, and he didn’t get enough credit for it. Though he failed to top his career-high 35 goals from the season prior, he still potted an impressive 26 goals in a shortened season after missing the entire preseason and the first 10 games of the regular season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Granted, Burrows’s totals were overshadowed by the 41-goal seasons put up by both Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin, but it’s important to note that Alex Burrows did his damage without powerplay time: his 24 even-strength goals, one more than either Kesler or Daniel, led the Canucks.
One misconception that I hope to clear up during Alex Burrows’s entry in the Every Goal series is the notion that anybody could do Burrows’s job. It’s a cushy gig, to be sure, but a lot of guys have flunked out of it because it’s not an easy one to keep. In order to make himself a consistent passing option, Burrows has to stay one step ahead of the Sedins. Were this a simple task, there would be no such thing as Sedinery. Burr works his tail off to be in the right place at the right time, reading plays, fighting for space, going hard into corners and even harder to the net. In short: sure, his stat line benefits from the Sedins’ fabulous playmaking skills, but he makes things as easy for them as they do for him. Take in every goal Alex Burrows scored in 2010-11 and you’re sure to notice that.
Note: because Burrows scored a few more goals than we’d like to embed in one sitting, we’ve split this post into two. Part 2 goes Monday.
As I said, People don’t respect what Alex Burrows does. Not only does he retrieve the puck for the Sedins, but, once they have it, he is constantly in motion, trying to put himself into a scoring position so that they can find him. With the way the Sedins move the puck around, Burrows has to move around just as much to stay in a passing lane. Let’s start with this goal, for instance: after Kevin Bieksa holds the puck in the zone, Henrik charges to it along the far wall, and Burrows makes a line to the net, looking for Henrik’s pass. When Henrik instead moves it to Daniel (with a slick, tape-to-tape backhand pass), Burrows changes routs and spins back to the goalmouth, making himself available for Daniel. Thankfully, his button hook shakes his defenders, leaving him wide open, and Daniel finds him for his first of the season.
Once the Sedins force the turnover, Alex Burrows joins the rush on the far side. He’s in a shooting position from the moment he re-enters the zone (watch how long he glides with his stick out to the side), and sure enough, the Sedins move the puck to him beautifully. He finishes in similar fashion. My favourite thing: about this clip: Daniel Sedin doesn’t just knock this puck away from Ryan O’Reilly. He does so while intentionally banking it off the boards to Henrik. In other words, his sweep check is a pass. My second favourite thing about this clip: the way the Sedins make this entire play happen with all five Avalanche players within a foot of them.
Normally, Burrows is only in his scoring position for a half a second before he has to readjust but, on this goal, he actually has time to call for the pass by tapping his stick on the ice. What are the Sharks doing? Watch the replay that begins at 0:35. Their coverage actually breaks down when, with Henrik Sedin set up behind the net, Daniel Sedin cuts across the goalmouth, seducing confused rookie Justin Braun (in his first NHL game, the poor kid) into following him. This creates problems, as it forces both Torrey Mitchell and Kent Huskins to abandon their defensive posture. That’s Braun’s vacated post that Huskins’ now has to cover, and he doesn’t move quickly enough, as a lefty, to get his stick out to the other side. Huskins knows Burrows is calling for the puck, but he can’t do anything with his stick on his forehand. To make matters worse, the moment he takes his eyes off the puck in order to bring his stick to the backhand, Henrik threads the pass through and Burrows scores.
Here’s Burrows’ first goal scored on the rush, as he takes a perfect Henrik Sedin pass to break in two-on-one with Daniel. Drawing from his years of experience, Miikka Kiprusoff assumes that Daniel Sedin is going to receive the pass. Unwilling to be scored on by Daniel Sedin for the second time that evening (or the 20th time in his career), Kiprusoff cheats right. Unfortunately, Burrows surprises him and keeps, putting the shot just inside the post.
Here’s one of the prettiest goals of the season, as the Sedins set Alex Burrows up for a tap in after bewildering the Oilers with the longest give-and-go play in history. It begins with Daniel making a calculated, diagonal dump-in from center, firing the puck into the far corner for Henrik to skate onto. It’s a play the Sedins would use all season, to great effect, but never better than here. Henrik collects the puck as it comes off the boards, takes a quick look, then turns on a swivel, and fires the puck back across the zone to Daniel. The Oilers swivel too, but, by then, Daniel has centered the puck to Alex Burrows for the goal. It’s ridiculous. But let’s not give all the credit to the twins: Burrows does a great job here to follow the play and make himself a passing option from the moment this puck enters the zone. Watch the way he repositions himself by spinning off his man when Henrik makes the cross-zone pass to Daniel.
You don’t often hear about Alex Burrows as a net presence, mainly because he’s not the traditional net presence that plants himself on the edge of the crease and refuses to move, but he’s just as much a threat in the goalmouth as a Tomas Holmstrom. What Burrows lacks in Byfuglienian girth, he makes up for in tenacity and quickness, maintaining position in front by knocking guys off balance and darting around the crease like a squirrel in the street. We see evidence of that here, as Burrows makes space for himself by crosschecking Carl Gunnarson (pushing down, rather than out, to knock the Leafs D-man off balance), then pounces on this loose puck in a split second, swatting it into the net before anyone else on the ice even knows where it is.
Two things you need to know about the Sedins: 1) they always, always run a set play off a won faceoff. 2) they never give up on a play. Had the Blue Jackets remembered both of these basic tenets of Sedinery, they might have prevented this goal. While Daniel’s puts the puck wide on his initial scoring chance off the set faceoff play, the line gets another chance when the Blue Jackets forget about rule number two. While they’re breathing a big sigh of relief, Henrik digs the puck out from behind the net, and Burrows darts to the front of the net to bang in his pass.
This goal bears a striking resemblance to goal #6, as Burrows is the first one to a loose puck in front, chopping it past Antti Niemi for the late third period go-ahead marker. Burrows does a great job, too, of even getting to this puck. As the Sedins dig it out of the scrum along the wall, he darts to the net at top speed, so as to to give Christian Ehrhoff a net presence to shoot at, and his efforts pays off. He arrives at the same time as the puck, tipping the shot — originally going high and wide — back towards the goalmouth just as Niemi overplays it. This leaves him the entire net into which to bury the rebound, and, like the zippy squirrel that he is, he buries his reward.
Here’s that classic Sedin set faceoff play: Henrik wins the draw back to Daniel, who then switches places with Burrows, taking the puck to the boards while Burrows cuts to the net and looks for a centring pass. A year after the Sedins introduced it to great success, the Western Conference wised up in 2010-11, and the play was less effective as a result. However, it’s still relatively new to Eastern Conference teams like the New York Islanders who don’t see the Sedins nearly as often. The Islanders almost prevent it nonetheless, but after Travis Hamonic limits Alex Burrows to almost no contact with the puck, it goes off his leg and into the net. So close.
Daniel Sedin makes like Chris Campoli here, setting up Alex Burrows with a chest-high pass that the Canucks’ winger has to snatch out of the air. Just like he did for the classic overtime goal versus Chicago, Burrows puts the puck from his glove to his stick to the back of the net in about half a second, beating Kari Lehtonen with a laser slapper. And, just like the goal versus Chicago, Burrows gets lucky when the puck stands on end before the shot.
Hey, is that Scott Rintoul at the 0:22 mark of this clip? If it’s not, there are two Canucks fans in this town that bear an uncanny resemblance to the Sherminator. Anyway, Burrows scores another goal on a rebound in front of the net here, beating Shane O’Brien, his best frenemy, to a loose puck in front of Pekka Rinne. Great job by Dan Hamhuis on this one to chase this puck down at the point and slap it right back into traffic, knowing full well that with two Sedins and an Alex Burrows in front, there’s a good chance someone would find a way to put it in the net.
Burrows’s 12th of the season comes on a give-and-go with Henrik Sedin versus the Stars, the Gabby Jay of the Canucks’ 2010-11 season. Everything went Vancouver’s way versus Dallas, and this goal is no exception. As Burrows comes streaking in, he tries to pull this puck to his backhand. Instead, he loses the handle on it. However, rather than get away from him, it merely rolls forward and stays with him, waiting for him to bat it in. Seriously, another friendly rolling puck for Burrows. Does he get a lot of those or what?
Burrows’s 200th career NHL points comes where — I’m gonna guess — about 190 of the others came: directly in front of the goaltender. After a turnover in the Coyotes zone, Daniel Sedin pounces on a loose puck and puts a wrist shot on net. Burrows is already there, and he tips this puck past Ilya Bryzgalov for the goal. And again, in case I haven’t made clear how well Burrows reads plays and how hard he goes to the net when the Sedins have a chance, watch how quickly he changes lines when he sees Daniel pick up this puck. He goes from coasting out of the zone to backing in on Bryzgalov in the blink of an eye. He’s ass-to-face on the Russian netminder in half a second. Heck, Burrows might have the highest ass-to-face transition time of any Canuck. That’s legit.
Previous entries in the Every Goal 2010-11 series:
Tags: Burrows, burrows can catch, Every Goal 10-11, featured, Wizardous Sedinerie