Andre Burakovsky’s status for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets remains unclear, but Coach Barry Trotz was very clear about what he needs from the fourth-year winger: more production and fewer miscues with the puck.
“We’ve all seen it—he’s a really good player,” Trotz said after Thursday’s practice. “We’ve seen it in the playoffs. He just hasn’t found his game.”
On Tuesday night in Columbus, Burakovsky did not see the ice in the third period of Washington’s 3-2 victory. In fact, his 6:34 of playing time was a season-low.
“Some of the decisions he was making, I was just trying to get his attention a little bit,” Trotz said of the benching.
On Thursday, Burakovsky appeared to be the odd man out in practice as Alex Chiasson took his spot on the third line.
Trotz, meantime, said he and his coaching staff have invested significant time working with Burakovsky off the ice this season. Now, though, it’s time for that tutelage to begin clicking on the rink.
“There’s certain things that we can help him with as a coaching staff,” Trotz added. “We’re helping him all the time, pointing out things to him and showing him a lot of film. Now it’s really on Andre. He’s not a first [or] second-year player. He’s a fourth-year player now. We need him down the stretch here.”
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It’s obviously been a difficult season for Burakovsky, who turns 23 on Friday. There were big expectations heaped on the 2013 first rounder after he inked a two-year, $6 million extension last summer. Then he stumbled a bit out of the gate. Then he suffered a broken thumb that required surgery and cost him 21 games. Then he got scratched. Then he got sick. Then he got scratched again.
In all, he has accumulated just 4 goals and 11 points in 28 contests.
Burakovsky acknowledged that things haven’t gone how he had envisioned. But he was also quick to express optimism about the final 29 games.
“It’s definitely has not been easy,” he said. “It’s not really what I was expecting of this year at all. But we still have the most important left of the season. I’m just going to get ready for the playoffs so I can help the team as much as I can.”