SAN JOSE — Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said forward Brent Burns is "really close" to returning to the lineup from facial injuries he suffered last month, and could be back by this week.
Wilson said the Sharks have been careful not to rush Burns back from his injury, hoping to avoid any setbacks if he returned to the lineup too quickly. Burns has not played since Oct. 19 when the Sharks played Calgary at home. San Jose plays Tampa Bay on Thursday and New Jersey on Saturday.
"We want to players to come back, and we use the term uninterrupted. So if we go the extra time to make sure that it's not an issue going forward, that's our history," Wilson said. "It's easier to do when you're playing well and emotions don't come into play, but we'd like to think that we keep an eye on the big picture and what's right for the players and for the team."
Burns has skated with the team in recent days but has not yet participated in a full practice. On the Sharks' recently completed road trip, Burns was taking part in more physical drills at one point but reverted back wearing a 'no-contact' jersey in practice.
Burns had four goals and four assists in eight games this season before the injury, and the Sharks were 7-0-1 with him in the lineup. San Jose is 6-3-4 in his absence.
"You obviously miss his speed and size and everything he brings, but what it does is it also with him out, it kind of changes the puzzle a little bit and puts guys in in different parts of the puzzle where they may not fit as well," Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle said. "Not only do we miss what he brings to us, but he changes the lineup a little bit. That's what we've seen so far with him out."