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Injured Andre Burakovsky to see specialist, Caps make a recall

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Injured Andre Burakovsky to see specialist, Caps make a recall

Andre Burakovsky has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and will not travel with the Caps to Western Canada, Coach Barry Trotz said.

The team hopes to get a better feel for how long they’ll be without the 22-year-old winger after he sees a specialist on Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s going to miss some time,” Trotz said. “We don’t have the extent so that’s why he’s seeing the specialist. …All I know is he’s not on this trip and we’re gone for roughly a week.”

RELATED: WHY A ROAD TRIP COULD BE JUST WHAT THE CAPS NEED TO BREAK OUT OF THEIR SLUMP

If Burakovsky misses any significant amount of time, it’ll be a blow for the player, who is under pressure to produce after signing a two-year, $6 million extension in the offseason, and the team, which doesn’t boast the scoring depth it’s had in recent years. In fact, the scuffling Caps (4-4-1) have been held to two or fewer goals in three of the last four games. 

This marks the second year in a row that Burakovsky has gotten injured just as he was heating up. A year ago, he missed 15 games in the second half of the season with a broken right hand. 

“We’ll see what the specialist says first, but he’s just finally broke through, got a goal [in Detroit] and we were hoping that would get him some traction,” Trotz said. “And then he got hurt. That was sorta like last year.”

The coach 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.”

With Burakovsky placed on IR, the Caps called up Chandler Stephenson from Hershey ahead of their three-game road trip that’ll make stops in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Based on Tuesday’s line rushes, though, Stephenson won’t be in the lineup when the Caps visit Vancouver on Thursday night.

MORE CAPITALS: JAY BEAGLE SCORED IN HIS 400TH GAME AND IT WAS AWESOME

Here’s how Trotz had the players lined up at KCI:

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

Defense
Djoos – Carlson
Orpik – Bowey
Orlov – Chorney
Extra: Ness 

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

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Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.

RELATED: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS LOST TO PHILADELPHIA

Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.

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But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.