Tinkering with the offence

Burmistrov auditions with Kane, Wellwood


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No news flash here -- Alexander Burmistrov is changing lines.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/02/2012 (4133 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

No news flash here — Alexander Burmistrov is changing lines.

The mere mention of the development at Winnipeg Jets’ practice brought a chuckle from the 20-year-old Russian, if only because it’s almost been his routine.

Last week, his work with Antti Miettinen and Tim Stapleton was at the very worst worthy. On Monday, it seemed like head coach Claude Noel was playing a hunch by sending the skilled centre to a combination with Evander Kane and Kyle Wellwood.

Alexander Burmistrov
Alexander Burmistrov

“I’m not sure that’s what we’ll go with,” Noel said. “We’ll see. I’m just trying something.”

Chances are, however, Burmistrov will skate with Kane and Wellwood tonight when the Jets are home against the New York Islanders at the MTS Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN Jets, TSN 1290).

Burmistrov, who had his 10th goal of the season Saturday in Pittsburgh, has been asked this question before.

And he’s also been wrestling all season with the reality that he really hasn’t had a regular spot with anybody.

“It’s tough to jump from one line to another,” Burmistrov said, still smiling about the latest twist in the tale. “It’s definitely tough when you play on the fourth line, 10 minutes a game, then jump to 18. That’s a big difference but it’s good for me, more ice time, more chance to show what I can do to help the team.”

He said he has felt more energized of late, especially in light of having shared about a month ago how he felt strongly he was disappointing a lot of people.

“I think our line, the last five games, showed very good games,” Burmistrov said. “Last game we scored.”

He said he knows the demand for exactly that, goals, is high.

“Everybody’s asking me (to score),” he said. “They ask me to score more goals. I think I know how my game is, how I can play and when I play bad, I know I did play bad and that I can be better.

“I’ve tried to be a more offensive player, get some points to our team to help win the games. Sometimes it’s not working, but I have to keep trying and that’s good.

“The goals will come. But it’s still hard work. That’s what will make it come.”

It’s highly unlikely goals are the only thing Noel and the Jets are trying to get out of Burmistrov, who scored just six last season, his rookie year in the NHL.

Monday, for instance, Noel skated and chatted with Burmistrov for a long spell as the Jets warmed up for their 70-minute practice. Las Vegas wouldn’t offer any odds the only word spoken was “shoot.”

Burmistrov said the Jets’ focus going forward was not just goals, and that Saturday’s defeat in Pittsburgh underscored it.

“Those (elite) teams, they’re trouble if you have turnovers,” he said. “They have a lot of good players, like Pittsburgh, they have (Evgeni) Malkin and he’s the best player in the league right now.

“He scores from everywhere, assists (too). That’s the point, we need to be more consistent and we need to make sure we play our game.”

And then the kid pointed out where it all went off the tracks against the Penguins.

“We went up 2-0 and we stopped playing our way,” he said. “Their first goal, turnover in the middle zone, they turn it back and shoot, score.

“Second goal is lots of turnovers in our zone and icing. Tough play when you’re tired, lost the faceoff and a goal.

“That’s how turnovers work. How many goals like that? We forget one guy, goals. It’s all about turnovers. That’s where we have to be better.”

Noel’s moves Monday illustrate he’s pushing hard for that kind of “better.”

“The disappointing thing for me is that we’re at the hump and we can’t get over the hump,” the coach added.

“I keep trying to push us over the hump and can’t. That’s the frustrating thing for me. It’s hard and that’s why I’m relentless.

“We’re at the point where we have to string some wins together.”


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