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Andre Burakovsky's important season put on hold due to surgery on broken thumb

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Andre Burakovsky's important season put on hold due to surgery on broken thumb

Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky had surgery to repair his fractured left thumb on Tuesday afternoon, the team said in a statement.

Burakovsky, who was injured late in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Panthers, is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks as a result, dealing the scuffling Caps a significant blow. Washington is 4-4-1 and has been limited to two or fewer goals in three of its last four games.

It’s also a big blow for Burakovsky, who missed 15 games last season with a broken right hand. The 22-year-old winger was aiming to break out after signing a two-year, $6 million extension this summer.

Over the past two seasons, the Caps had ranked among the NHL’s healthiest teams. That has not been the case this season, with No. 1 defenseman Matt Niskanen out with an upper body injury and checking line forward Tyler Graovac sidelined, also with an upper body injury.


And now this.

“It's hard,” T.J. Oshie said before the news of Burakovsky's surgery had been announced. “We've been pretty lucky here the last couple years. We've had a couple injuries but for the most part we've been staying pretty healthy. It happens every once in a while, you kinda get the injury bug a little bit. It’s a little bit of adversity, it’s roles changing a little bit. Some guys are going to get a lot more responsibility.”

Burakovsky's injury happened in the waning minutes of Saturday game when he got hooked behind the net. He immediately took his glove off and began flexing his injured hand.

Although Burakovsky was examined after the contest, the full extent of the injury was not known until he visited a hand specialist on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Coach Barry Trotz lamented the fact that the injury occurred—again—just as Burakovksy appeared to be finding his game. Against Detroit on Friday, he scored his first goal of the season and recorded a clutch primary assist to help the Caps secure a 4-3 overtime victory.

“He’s just finally broke through, got a goal and we were hoping that would get him some traction,” Trotz said. “And then he got hurt. That was sorta like last year.”

Trotz added: “It seems he’s got that gift of finally getting some traction and then getting hurt. We’ll see what the specialist says and go from there.”

The Caps were hoping that Burakovsky could produce 20-25 goals this season to help offset all of the goals that left the team via free agency over the summer. Instead, one of their most promising young forwards now will be sidelined until early to mid December.

On Tuesday morning, Burakovsky was placed on injured reserve, clearing the way for the team to recall Chandler Stephenson, who joined the team for its road trip to Western Canada. Based on practice rushes, Stephenson will be the extra forward when the Caps play at Vancouver on Thursday night.

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The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday


The Caps are rolling at home, the power play is surging and other morning skate notes as the Flames visit Monday

The Caps will look to build on Saturday’s strong performance vs. Minnesota when Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames come calling Monday night at Capital One Arena.

Here’s how Washington is expected to line up:

Stephenson – Backstrom – Oshie
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Smith-Pelly
Vrana – Eller – Wilson
Connolly – Beagle – Chiasson
Extra: Walker

Orpik – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Chorney – Bowey
Extra: Ness

So, yeah, no changes up front or on the backend.


Now for some notes, quotes and observations from the morning skate:

  • Braden Holtby (11-4-0/2.56 gaa/.921 Sv%) is expected to start for the Caps. He’s won seven of his last nine starts and his 11 Ws are tied for third most in the NHL. The Flames are expected to start Mike Smith (10-6-0/2.70 gaa/.919 Sv%).
  • Including their win over Philipp Grubauer and Caps on Oct. 29, the Flames have won six of eight games to move into third place in the Pacific Division.
  • Leading the way for the Flames is Johnny Gaudreau, who has six goals and 10 assists during in the Flames’ last eight games. Gaudreau will likely match up against the Nicklas Backstrom line. Here’s what T.J. Oshie had to say about facing Gaudreau (it comes after he addresses the power play, which I’ll get to in a second.)
  • One thing that’s been pretty consistent for the Caps over the past couple of weeks has been the power play. After a bit of a dry spell, the unit has been (finally) getting some opportunities—and it’s been cashing in. Over the last five games, in fact, the power play has scored six times on 22 opportunities. Oshie has three of those goals, while Kuznetsov has chipped in with a pair.
  • The Flames, by the way, have the NHL’s worst penalty kill at 70.6-percent.
  • The Caps will be going for their sixth straight win at home against Calgary. In the previous five games on F Street, they’ve outscored their opponents by a combined 16-8.
  • Since Matt Niskanen returned to the lineup vs. the Predators, John Carlson’s ice time has come down to a more manageable figure. Carlson had been leading the league at 27:20 prior to No. 2’s return. Over the past three games, however, he’s skated 25:26, 24:53 and 24:55.
  • Game day skates typically begin around 10:15 when the Caps are at home. Sometimes scratches, the goalies and players toward the bottom of the lineup go out early to get a little extra work. On Monday, star center Evgeny Kuznetsov was on the ice at least 15 minutes early, working one-on-one with Trotz. Kuznetsov has five goals on the season but none at even strength in 11 games.  
  • Defenseman Christian Djoos hasn’t been on the ice since suffering an upper body injury in Nashville. Trotz did, however, say that the rookie is feeling better and starting to ramp up his level of activity. The coach also said he’s hopeful to see Djoos on the ice this week.


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Calgary comes to Washington in style with 1950s theme


Calgary comes to Washington in style with 1950s theme

The Calgary Flames left for Washington D.C. on Saturday night and they decided to go in style.

After a game in Philadelphia, the Flames were slated to take a train to Washington for their game against the Caps on Monday so they decided to have a little fun with it with a 1950s style theme.


The irony to this is that Jaromir Jagr is a member of the Flames and he currently doing everything he can to avoid turning 50. Now the rest of the team is embracing the 50s. Go figure.


Washington will host their stylish foes on Monday at Capital One Arena at 7 p.m.