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Andre Burakovsky to begin practicing with team, when will he return to the lineup?


Andre Burakovsky to begin practicing with team, when will he return to the lineup?

A return for Andre Burakovsky could be coming very, very soon. Though he will not be playing in Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, the Swedish winger did participate in the morning skate and said he will practice with the team on Tuesday.

How he feels and looks in practice will determine just how quickly he returns to game action.

“We'll get a couple practices in him and see where he is after that, but he's getting closer,” Barry Trotz said after Monday’s morning skate. “I think his date is next week, early next week is the original date. I think he's on schedule if not ahead of schedule.”


Burakovsky has not played since he broke his thumb against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 21. His projected return was mid-December, but he told the media he believes he may be ahead of schedule.

“All the x-rays have been looking really good, it's been healing real proper,” Burakovsky said. “I think we looked into I was maybe going to play in the next week here, but we'll see. We'll see when I'm playing next game, but our timeframe goes into next week.”

While out, Burakovsky has been doing drills on the ice with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. His return to the lineup, however, will depend on several other factors outside of his conditioning.

“You can skate all you want at ‘Camp Nemo’ and do all the drills, but you've got to be out there with guys moving around,” Trotz said. “It's easy skating in circles in small areas, but he has to make plays when people are trying to hit you. There's a lot going on, you tend to lose all your detail when you're out for a while. Instead of staying on the wall, you just start filtering into the middle. Just systematically, you're not as sharp.”

Cleaning up the details and working on his timing at practice, as well as getting full clearance from the doctors, are the only hurdles left standing between Burakovsky and his return.


Tuesday and Thursday will provide Burakovsky two opportunities to practice, but it seems optimistic to believe he could return for Friday’s game. More likely, he will be back in the lineup sometime next week when the team will play four games: at the N.Y. Islanders on Monday, home against Colorado on Tuesday, at Boston on Thursday and home against Anaheim on Saturday.

If Burakovsky remains on schedule, chances are we will see him back in the lineup sometime during that stretch.

This marks the second straight season in which a hand injury has taken Burakovsky out of the lineup, something that is not lost on him.

"I really like soft gloves so I'm always bending them a lot before I use them," he said. "I'm probably going to stop doing that now."

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John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.