Burns scoring at Wild pace

Mikael Backland of the Calgary Flames and Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild during NHL hockey  in...

Mikael Backland of the Calgary Flames and Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild during NHL hockey in Calgary, Alberta, Monday, November 29, 2010. (Al Charest/QMI AGENCY)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:56 PM ET

Brent Burns doesn't like talking much about injuries, and right now, he doesn't want to touch the subject of leading his team in goals.

Over the past two seasons, the Minnesota Wild blueliner has had a variety of ailments that limited him to 106 games.

Now that he's healthy and playing every night, the puck is starting to go in for him. Before Saturday's visit to Calgary, Burns topped his team with nine goals in 28 games, putting him on pace for a career-high 25.

"Sometimes they don't go in, and sometimes they do," said Burns, who recently had a three-game goal streak. "There is nothing different. They just happened to go in.

"I can improve. I have to get better obviously. When the team is not winning, it's magnified even more. I have to get better and help the team get back to where we want to be, which is in the playoffs."

In the 2008-09 NHL season, Burns suffered a concussion but fought through it to the detriment of his play. Immediately after that season, he had shoulder surgery.

Last season, the Wild thought he had another concussion, but it turns out the head troubles were due to a broken eardrum and a sinus infection from which he was suffering at the same time.

Still, he sat out 29 games. Over the past few weeks, Burns got another scare, as he ran into the helmet of teammate Greg Zanon and banged up his face.

But the only games he's missed this year are due to suspension, and the Wild are getting back production they thought they had when the Barrie, Ont., product scored 15 goals and 43 points in 2007-08.

"It's nice to see him happy," said Wild veteran Andrew Brunette. "Over the past few years, I don't know if he's had as much fun as he does when he plays well and he's happy. When he plays well, he's happy -- and vice versa.

"He's had a great year -- not just with the goals but with the way he's played. He plays top guys every night and does a great job checking them and still provides offence on the other end.

"He's had a couple of injury-stricken seasons, so it's good to see him back on track."

NYSTROM WANTS RESPECT

On Thursday night, a former Flames first-round draft pick was booed every time he touched the puck. On Saturday, another one escaped the cat-calls.

"Half the people probably don't remember I played here," said Wild forward Eric Nystrom, who was a first-round pick by the Flames in 2002. "Hopefully, they respect me for the good things and are happy for me where I am in my career."

Nystrom, who was Dion Phaneuf's teammate for parts of four seasons, was surprised the blueliner and former Flames teammate drew so much ire from the Saddledome faithful during his with the Toronto Maple Leafs in Thursday's 5-2 win by the home side.

"It wasn't like he was a free agent," said Nystrom, himself a free-agent pickup by the Wild in the off-season. "Dion was traded. He didn't want to leave. That's why it's probably hard for him to get booed.

"He was a guy who shed tears when he left, because he loved it so much. He's the captain now of a not-liked team, and that's the way it is."

EXTRA POINT

Wild blueliner Cam Barker was left back in Minnesota for "personal reasons," Wild coach Todd Richards said.

Clayton Stoner took the Winnipeg native's place in the lineup.

However, Barker could suit up Monday against the Flames during the second half of the home-and-home series in St. Paul, Minn.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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