Jordan Martinook lit up the Devils. Jesper Fast and Paul Stastny have overtime winners. Sebastian Aho is doing Sebastian Aho things. Brett Pesce even has two goals! We have all heard. But, one name we have not heard all that much, though his contributions have been typically stellar, is Brent Burns.
And he is the “Most Junior Hurricanes Reporter’s” favorite player. Thus, Burns gets my vote as the unsung hero of the Carolina Hurricanes 2023 Stanley Cup run thus far.
This year’s run with the Carolina Hurricanes is Burns’ 10th postseason appearance, and he has now appeared in 105 playoff games spread over three teams. His career best year was 2015-16 when the San Jose Sharks were the benefactors of 24 points from the bearded one.
Seven of those came in the form of a lamp lighter.
Despite being the hero of San Jose’s run in both 2015-16 and 2018-19 with a combined 12 goals and 27 assists, Burns has come through for the Carolina Hurricanes with productive numbers and consistency as the defensive captain. In total Burns has 1 game tying goal and helper in two others. Not too shabby by anyone’s standards.
From Game 1 against the New York Islanders onward, Brent Burns has been in the middle of Carolina’s biggest scores. Early in the 1st during Game 1 against New York, Burns fed Sebastian Aho to open the playoffs with the first goal of the series. Then first thing in the 2nd, he assisted Stefan Noesen to make the score 2-0 on the first of Carolina’s powerplay goals.
Burns was right back at things in Game 2 helping with Jaccob Slavin’s game tying goal at the 12:19 mark in the 3rd and then the game winning goal from Jesper Fast in overtime.
Of course, thanks to the national media, we don’t get to see Burns feed this to Jordan Staal, and really only hear about Martin getting a stick to the face 100 times, but who cares right?!?!? It’s only a game winning goal in the playoffs.
At the 4:05 mark in Game 3’s 1st period, Burns helped Seth Jarvis find the back of the net for the first goal of the game. Jarvis would tack on an extra goal in Carolina’s 5-2 win making the series 3-1.
But Burns didn’t stop production as the Hurricanes switched tactics against the New Jersey Devils. Moving from a speed game, focused on avoiding the big hits from the Islanders, to a more physical one against the Devils bent on dictating the intensity of the game, the Canes relied on Burns to help control the throttle on the game in Carolina’s favor.
This game management is what earned my vote for Burns as the unsung hero of the playoffs for the Carolina Hurricanes through two tough series.
Though he did not make it to the scoresheet until Game 4 against the Devils, Burns was averaging right at 23 minutes of ice time on an average of 28.6 shifts over the 1st 3 games.
But Game 4 was big Brent Burns, as he scored and had an assist.
Late in the 2nd period, Burns put yet another nail in the Devils’ coffin with help from Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jordan Martinoon at the 12:46 marker making it 5-1. To make it 6-1 Brent Burns returned the favor to Jordan Martinook for the final coffin nail that made the series 4-1 Hurricanes.
Brent Burns would have his biggest goal of his thus far short tenure here in Raleigh in Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils. Unassisted, Burns slammed home the game tying goal in the second period on a shot that is likely still flying through space and time had it not been for the netting. To say he was the unsung hero of the come-from-behind win is an understatement.
Oh, and he is a full +8 which puts him second on the team behind Jaccob Slavin who is a huge +11. Not bad for a 38 year old veteran.
Carolina’s making it thus far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been a full team effort. Stefan Noeson, Seth Jarvis to Sebastian Aho, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Carolina Hurricanes have taken turns stepping up to play big games. But it has been the play of Brent Burns that has been most impressive to me although he has the unsung hero nature most of the time. Others are grabbing the headlines but certainly Burns deserves any ink printing in his name.