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Sharks' Burns moving past defensive criticism with world-class play

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SAN JOSE – More than a month after Drew Doughty ripped into the defensive abilities of Brent Burns, his comments still resonate in northern California.

Doughty’s suggestion Burns “gets beat three times a game” was particularly topical following the Sharks’ Game 1 win over Colorado, when the 34-year-old was paired with Marc-Edouard Vlasic with an eye on shutting down Nathan MacKinnon.

Not only did the duo limit MacKinnon to one power-play assist in a 5-2 win, Burns also broke a team playoff record with the first four-point outing by a defenceman. His goal and three assists also made him the franchise’s all-time leading scorer amongst defencemen, moving him ahead of Dan Boyle.

“He’s a Norris Trophy candidate, so it’s not an aberration – he’s been great all year,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. “And the people that wrote about his defensive play … I think the last three games of the Vegas series and then MacKinnon (in Game 1), he has been all-world defensively. He has been invaluable for us in doing what he does and doing what we, in our room, know he’s capable of doing and playing at a really high level.”

Having seen MacKinnon take over the series against Calgary, DeBoer knew it would take a special pair to stop Great Nate. He chose to pair Burns with Vlasic.

It’s an assignment Vlasic has........

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