SAN JOSE -- Brent Burns is making progress in his recovery from unspecified facial injuries, Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Friday, but the decision hasn't been made on whether he will join the team on its upcoming five-game trip.
"He's progressing," McLellan said, noting Burns participated in some "battle drills" during Friday's practice even though he was wearing a special orange jersey that served as a visual reminder to teammates to avoid hard contact.
Burns has missed eight games with what started out as a stick to the mouth in the Oct. 12 game against the Ottawa Senators. He played in another three games after that, but apparently the impact created problems that developed in the sinus and nasal areas as well.
Following team policy, Burn would not discuss the injury or any possible timetable for his return. But he did say it hasn't been easy on the sidelines.
"Day in and day out, as much as I like to work out and stuff, I don't really love that. I love to play hockey," Burns said. "I really feel like we have a special group. It's tough, you're still here but you're not really as much of a part of it as you can be. You're still not going through everything, so it's tough."
And he acknowledged being frustrated.
"It's tough not to play any time of year," he said. "It's not fun."
The Sharks leave Saturday for a five-game trip that begins with a Sunday night contest in Winnipeg.
And although McLellan acknowledged his starting netminder wasn't sharp in the game, the coach rejected the idea that Niemi may be feeling the effects of starting 15 of 16 games.
"Nope, not at all," he said, noting that Niemi has had more time off in the last 10 days than earlier in the season, and that's part of the problem. "We haven't been playing every second day, so I think the exact opposite of what you're suggesting. He's not tired, I can tell you that."