What’s going on with Brent Burns?

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Brent Burns’ season started about as well as he could’ve hoped, scoring eight points in eight games as the Sharks went 7-0-1.

Things haven’t gone so well since.

On Oct. 19, Burns took a puck to the mouth in a 6-3 win over Calgary. He sat out the following game with sore gums — which, as you can imagine, wasn’t cause for concern of a major long-term injury.

Problem is, Burns hasn’t played since.

Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to Buffalo was Burns’ seventh straight game on the shelf. Reports out of San Jose regarding his condition have been vague and limited — he’s skated some, even took the ice in full pads once — but on Wednesday, he left the ice early (after skating in a non-contact jersey) and declined the media’s interview requests.

The Sharks have been tight-lipped about Burns’ health status, staying far away from any word that might rhyme with “boncussion.”

For example, here’s the “update” head coach Todd McLellan gave CSN Bay Area on Monday:

“Getting closer, from what I’ve been told,” Todd McLellan said on Monday. “He’s welcome back any time, obviously. We’d love to have him back with our team. From my understanding, he’s getting closer.”

Could Burns return to practice this week?

”I don’t have that. He and the trainers and the doctors know when that will happen,” McLellan said.

CSN’s Kevin Kurz says San Jose’s been “vague” with specifics on Burns, but it’s clear the team isn’t the same without him. The Sharks are just 3-1-3 without Burns in the lineup, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those that paid attention to the team last year.

Many cite Burns’ move to forward as a major catalyst for turning around its ’13 campaign. At one point, Burns had 26 points in 30 games after moving up from defense, and San Jose went 20-9-1 over that same stretch.

His skating ability and forechecking prowess gave the Sharks a dramatically different look up front, which allowed them to spread their offensive talent throughout their top three forward lines.

So, there’s no doubt San Jose wants Burns back in the lineup.

The question now is, when will it happen?

Penguins’ Guentzel makes ‘kick save’ to stop Capitals

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It doesn’t get much better than a player making the type of save you’d only expect from a goalie. OK, how about this: when it happens amid the high stakes of the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had already been distinguishing himself with a red-hot scoring start to the postseason, but he made a big difference in a way that won’t show up in the box score (aside from maybe as a blocked shot) for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.

In one of the few golden opportunities in a notably tight first period, Guentzel made a “kick save” to keep it 0-0. He also managed to avoid giving the Capitals a penalty shot in the process, so this was quite the effort from the impressive rookie.

Video will be added soon. Here’s the moment in GIF form first:

Lundqvist snubs Sens with 21 saves in first (Video)

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You know how goalies claim they prefer to be busy rather than risking rust in seldom seeing shots? If that’s true, Henrik Lundqvist was really, really happy in the first period.

The Ottawa Senators generated chance after chance in a busy opening frame of Game 1, generating a 21-12 shot differential against the New York Rangers. The game remains 0-0 in large part because Lundqvist has carried over his momentum from the Montreal Canadiens series so far.

As you can see from the video above, Lundqvist made some absolutely fantastic saves, especially in somehow stopping Mark Stone.

In a duller game, 21 shots on goal could a team’s entire output.

That’s impressive stuff from what appears to be a “vintage” Lundqvist. We’ll see how much more the Rangers lean on him as this one goes along.

Oh, and here’s a GIF of the best stop of the bunch, because seriously.

Kunitz is in for Penguins vs. Capitals in Game 1

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The Pittsburgh Penguins get a familiar face back in the lineup, as Chris Kunitz is good to go against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.

The 37-year-old has been sidelined since March 31, ending his regular season with just an assist in his final nine games. His last goal came on Feb. 16.

So, in other words … he’s not quite as big of a deal for this series as he had been in the past.

He’ll draw into a solid fourth line with Matt Cullen and Tom Kuhnackl, while Carter Rowney will be a healthy scratch. Check out the Penguins’ line combos heading into Thursday’s showdown:

Foligno, Getzlaf, Giordano vie for Messier Leadership Award

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The NHL announced the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).

In case you’re curious about the process, the league explains how it works (and how the buck stops with Messier):

Mark Messier solicits suggestions from club and League personnel as well as NHL fans to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the three finalists and ultimate winner is Messier’s alone. 

So, yes, it might come down to steeliness/60.

Anyway, the most fun part of this award is that Getzlaf and Giordano just engaged in a first-round series, with Getzlaf’s hit on Giordano (see above) being one of the standout moments.

Perhaps Giordano will at least get the best of Getzlaf in this one?