Tracking the Locked Out Jets
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11-19-2012, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Article on young NHL'ers in the AHL:
“It’s not an easy league,” Alex Burmistrov, the Winnipeg Jets’ lockout contribution to the IceCaps, said this week, “especially when you’re down here from the NHL. Players are playing hard against you, so it’s not easy for us.
“I bet a lot of fans thought I’d come here and score hat tricks every game. It’s not an easy league. It’s tough to score goals ... it’s tough.”
Before last night’s game against the Devils, opening a six-game homestand at Mile One (the Hamilton Bulldogs are in Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the Providence Bruins next weekend), Burmistrov had two goals and seven assists through 13 games, good enough to lead the goal-challenged IceCaps, but barely totals that would raise an eyebrow.
Of course, Burmistrov and company are generating more attention on the ice, their space to move a little more crowded than, say, Ivan Telegin, the St. John’s rookie winger.
“That’s why it’s the American league,” Burmistrov said. “Everybody is still learning here, everybody wants to play in the NHL and everybody is still trying to develop here. Including myself. It’s a good league to play hockey.”
“Without a doubt, guys are keying in on him,” St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge said. “We sat down a couple of games ago and went over some clips of his shifts, what I’m seeing on my side and what he’s seeing on the ice. When you watch in game speed, and when you watch the game tape, there’s no doubt in my mind teams are keying two guys on him.
“Especially on the power play, there’s pressure on him, and five-on-five, too. They’re really aware of him being an upper echelon guy and taking away his time and space. We talked about him moving pucks and getting to that open space.”
Nobody has to tell Burmistrov some American league players are watching the NHL guys, and if there’s a chance for an extra shot or two, well, they’re taking it.
“This is my fourth year in North America and it’s always been like this,” said the young Russian, who despite playing his third pro season is still only 21. “There is a lot of hitting and that’s hockey.”
Thing with Burmistrov, however, is that he sometimes initiates the contact. Like the game in Portland, when the Pirates’ Alexandre Bolduc went to hit the slick centre in the corner. Only Burmistrov leaned into Bolduc first.
“Bolduc was the one who ended up on his back,” said McCambridge, who liked to throw around his body as a minor league journeyman. “Alex is a guy who can play a physical game. He’s right in the battle. He’s not afraid to go to those hard areas, going for pucks in the corners. He has an edge to him.”
Of course, Burmistrov isn’t paid to muck it up. The singers sing and the dancers dance, and Burmistrov is supposed to be putting numbers on the board.
He’s not the only one, of course, on the IceCaps not scoring this season. Prior to last night’s game, only three teams in the East — Albany, Providence and the Binghamton Senators — had fewer goals than the IceCaps, and St. John’s had two more games played.
Burmistrov doesn’t appear overly concerned, confident the IceCaps will, “battle through this together.”
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