CALGARY, Alberta – The infamous ‘comfort level.’ For Winnipeg Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov, it’s more than a cliché.
The 24-year-old is now discovering confidence in his new role after a “nervous” first half transitioning back to the National Hockey League. With points in three of his last four games – including two in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks Monday, Burmistrov is feeling more comfortable now than he has all season.
“It’s a big relief for me when I’m playing (well) in an offensive role,” Burmistrov said. “I’m still playing lots on the PK and stuff, but it’s big for me to play in this role with those two guys. … I’m used to being — and I want to be — an offensive player. I know I can help this team win
games, and not just defensively. It’s a big thing for me.”
With comfort, comes chemistry. Burmistrov, along with linemates Mathieu Perreault and Marko Dano, combined for seven points in Monday’s win, and were a possession force, averaging, as a unit, +12 in shot differential. Burmistrov alone contributed five shot attempts (two on goal), and three of the
Jets’ 25 total scoring chances.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily having the confidence to make plays,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said, lauding the Russian’s raw skillset, “but when you’re really confident, you don’t make the plays you shouldn’t. You know something good’s going to happen, so you don’t try to force it every shift. You see simpler plays from him, cleaner plays, and he’s moving the puck nicely in the neutral zone.”
Burmistrov agreed, adding that he was putting far too much emphasis on each and every shift earlier in the year. Now, he’s developed trust in both his game and decision-making, which has helped him contribute more effectively at both ends of the ice.
He’s also started to shoot the puck more, too, which is one of his most underrated assets.
“He’s got a great release, and when he puts that in his game, he plays real well,” Maurice said.
Like Monday, when he fired a shot bar down for one of the prettiest of his seven goals this year.
THE FLU BUG
Dustin Byfuglien missed Monday’s game with the flu, necessitating the recall of Julian Melchiori from the Manitoba Moose, and moving Jacob Trouba up to the top pairing alongside Toby Enstrom.
Trouba played a game-high 24:47 and was an even possession player, as he was on the ice for nine shot attempts for and against at even strength.
“Whoever plays with Toby plays well,” Maurice said. “From the analytics and numbers, whoever’s Toby’s partner gives up fewer red-zone shots, gets more, turnovers get cut down, entries go up.”
“He’s a very special player,” Trouba said of Enstrom. “He breaks the puck out by himself a lot of the time with his quickness and his ability to handle the puck. I just try to talk to him as much as I can, read off him. I thought it went pretty well.
“It’s something you want as a player. All the young guys want a bigger role. You’ve got to earn it, and that’s just an opportunity when guys are out.”
Byfuglien was one of the 11 skaters that did practice today at the Saddledome, and is a possibility to play tomorrow against the Flames.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com