Burrows’ offensive heroics were nothing new. In fact, they’re becoming more and more common.
He scored the first goal of the game Thursday night against Nashville. The Canucks are now 27-6-4 when scoring first, as opposed to 7-18-6 when they don’t.
Burrows’ tally February 27 gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead against Colorado with 1:45 to play. Had they been able to clear their own zone with less than a minute to play, that goal would have stood up as the game-winner.
Burrows sealed a Canuck win on February 16 by hitting the empty net against Edmonton. And he had the game-winner itself February 7 against Atlanta. His list is starting to grow longer and longer.
For his part, an unusually modest Burrows, who picked up his career-high 11th goal of the season, chalked up his terrific play to simple luck.
“I think just bounces,” said Burrows. “Right now, for some reason the bounces are going my way. I’m getting a few pucks going my way for breakaways.”
Burrows’ teammates, on the other hand, attributed his strong play to more than just chance.
“I think [Burrows is] very underrated,” said linemate Ryan Kesler
, who’s set a career-high of his own with 31 points this season. “He has a lot to bring to the table and it’s great to play with him every night.”
Captain Markus Naslund agreed.
“I think [Burrows has] played great offensively all year, making plays and scoring at key times,” said Naslund. “Well deserved, he made a great move on the goal and a great pass.”
Not bad for a player who head coach Alain Vigneault admitted after the game wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot heading into training camp.
“I told him that if he didn’t pick it up offensively, there was a good chance that he wasn’t going to stick with the Canucks,” said Vigneault.
With Vancouver down 2-1 late in the second period, it was Burrows to the rescue. He took a feed from Taylor Pyatt and broke in all alone on St. Louis goaltender Manny Legace. Burrows went with his familiar breakaway move, deking to the backhand then lifting the puck top shelf against a helpless Legace.
“I think that breakaway move is my go-to,” said Burrows. “I like to do it on [Luongo] all the time. Now he knows it, it doesn’t work anymore on Louie. I was just happy to get it up in a hurry to beat Legace there. It was a big goal for us. We needed that to come back after two [periods] tied.”
Still tied late in the third, Burrows struck again. He and Kesler, who had two assists of his own, played the cycle game to perfection. Kesler found Burrows cutting to the net and hit him with a hard pass. Burrows darted to Legace’s left before throwing a backhand pass across his body to a wide-open Brad Isbister at the side of the net. All Isbister had to do was tap it in. He made no mistake.
“We got the puck deep,” said Burrows. “That’s where we want to play, get it deep. And especially with [Isbister], a big body, he was able to get the puck to me there and [Kesler] yelled at me and I cycled it down to him and I was able to beat my man back to the net and Kes made a great pass to feather that one through. And then that [defenseman] in front had to go to me or go to Izzy and Izzy was back door wide-open and I was able to get it to him. He got a great shot on net and that was a big goal.”
Isbister credited Burrows with setting him up for what was essentially a tap-in.
“It was a good cycle shift by our line,” said Isbister. “Kes made a great play to Burrows who was going to the net. And Burr, the heads-up player that he is, he saw me at the back door and just slid it across. … He’s a great player, he’s smart and he makes the right decisions.”
The assist gave Burrows four points in his last two games and six in his last six contests overall. After going twenty games without a goal in December and January, Burrows has now tallied seven times since late January. His 27 points are also a career-high.
There was talk throughout GM Place that he has emerged as the team’s unsung hero, as capable of winning a game by killing a penalty as he is by scoring a timely goal.
One would think that Saturday night’s showing makes the 26-year old from Pincourt, Quebec all but a shoe-in for the team’s Fred J. Hume Award for unsung hero.