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Burish skates on fourth line, says he's ready to return

Saturday, 05.25.2013 / 5:35 PM | Eric Gilmore  - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Forward Adam Burish has been playing a game of beat the clock from the moment he broke his right hand while blocking a shot in Game 4 of the San Jose Sharks' sweep of the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.

Team doctors initially ruled him out for the semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings, but Burish kept pushing to return for the series. And most signs point to him being back for Game 6 on Sunday night at HP Pavilion (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS), just in time to give the Sharks a boost of energy as they try to stave off elimination.

Burish skated at right wing on the fourth line during practice Saturday and said he's good to go. He's just waiting for coach Todd McLellan to give him the final OK.

"I feel ready, yeah," Burish said. "I guess it's Todd's call, but yeah, I feel pretty darn good."

McLellan said he wasn't ready to officially reinsert Burish to the lineup, in part because of what happened in Game 3 when forward Martin Havlat returned. Havlat had been out since being injured early in Game 1 against Vancouver. Havlat was reinjured against the Kings and played only four minutes and 52 seconds, leaving the Sharks shorthanded.

"He has to be able to play the game," McLellan said of Burish. "We have to make decisions on what's best for the team and we've tried once already to put a player into the lineup and he left us with four minutes. That didn't help us at all. If he can play and finish the night and remain healthy and contribute to the team, we'd love to have him back. I would say he's awfully close to that.

"I'm comfortable with him playing. We'll get a daily review like we always do from our doctors and training staff, and if we're comfortable as a staff that we like what we're hearing, we'll put him in."

There's no question the Sharks could use Burish's experience, grit and energy after their disheartening 3-0 loss Thursday night at Staples Center. Burish won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and is one of the Sharks' biggest agitators and loudest chirpers on the ice.

What does Burish hope to bring to the team?

"Just some positive energy, some experience, whether it's bringing an upbeat attitude or a calming presence," Burish said. "I guess whatever's kind of needed based on the game and based on what's going on. That's it. I'm not coming to save the day. I think that's clear. This team's done a great job. We're in a good spot right now. We're just fine where we are.

"I'm just going to look to contribute. Just bring some energy, bring some attitude. Bring some desperate attitude, I guess, is what I'm going to bring, add on to what we already have."

Assuming Burish plays, McLellan wants to see him play his regular game.

"He's a feisty player, he's a very good right-handed faceoff guy, he kills penalties, he adds a physical element to our game, and he’s got a past that he can reference in this situation," McLellan said. "He's been there with a team that''s won the Cup, and I'm sure they faced adversity through their run and he can bring that into the locker room."

Sharks center Logan Couture said Burish has a knack for getting "under the other team's skin" on the ice. "He's going to help us."

Burish said he has "no concerns" about his right hand or worries about blocking shots. "I won't even think about it," he said.

During practice, Burish took his regular spot on a penalty-kill unit.

"If I'm playing, I'm expecting to go back and not miss a beat," Burish said. "How I've been playing all year. I'm not going back in just because I got nice hair. I want to contribute."

In Game 5, regular defenseman Jason Demers skated on the fourth line but played only 3:47. After taking a boarding penalty at 13:24 of the second period, he played just three more seconds the rest of the night -- the time it took him to skate from the penalty box to the bench. Demers worked exclusively with the defensemen on Saturday.

Burish skated on a line with center Andrew Desjardins and left wing Bracken Kearns.

The Kings juggled their lines for Game 5. Their two biggest changes were first-line wing Dustin Brown moving to the third line and fourth-line wing Kyle Clifford moving to the top line.

There's been speculation that McLellan might juggle his lines for Game 6 and possibly move Joe Pavelski from right wing on the second line back to third-line center, where he had much of his success this year. But during practice, the top three lines remained intact.

That stability is a sign that McLellan isn't panicking. But it also points to his lack of great options after the loss of Havlat to injury and forward Raffi Torres to a suspension for his hit on Kings center Jarret Stoll in Game 1.

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