Burns’ shift back to defense remains work in progress

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When it comes to his offensive game, there’s no question that Brent Burns has been a big contributor with the San Jose Sharks this season. He has seven goals and 19 points in 25 contests, but his defensive game has been less glamorous.

Burns spent the 2013-14 campaign as a forward, but the Sharks announced over the summer that he would move back to defense. Even with his past experience as a blueliner, that’s been an adjustment for him.

“The video, the practice time – it’s a daily process,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “Throughout his career he’s had to work hard in that area. He went away from it for two years, so now he’s starting to gather it all up again and proceed with it.”

In the meantime, Burns has a team-worst minus-nine rating. Granted, a player’s plus/minus has to be taken with a grain of salt. McLellan is evaluating Burns more on scoring chances for versus chances against when he’s on the ice, but there’s room for improvement by that measurement too.

“There’s nights that have been really positive, and there have been other nights that have not been so good,” McLellan said.

Burns’ primary defensive partner this season has been Mirco Mueller, but McLellan recently matched Burns up with Brenden Dillon in the hope that they can provide San Jose with a strong second pairing behind Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.

San Jose will play against Philadelphia on NBCSN tonight (10:00 p.m. ET start).