Andre Burakovsky will sit out Saturday’s first-place showdown with the Devils as head coach Barry Trotz attempts to “force” the talented young winger to up his game.
Burakovsky has three goals and five assists in 19 games this season.
The 22-year-old missed 20 contests with a broken hand, but this marks the first time in 2017-18 that he’s missed a game due to ineffectiveness.
“We need Andre to get his game to the next level, put some urgency in it,” Trotz said. “There’s nothing [that] puts more urgency into a player than not being in the lineup. We’ve seen that in the past with guys that we’ve sat out, and it’s the same with Madison [Bowey].”
Less than two weeks ago, Burakovsky appeared to get his season on track with a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, in Dallas. Since that game, however, he’s gone four games without a point, while mustering only three shots on net during that span.
In each of the past two games, Burakovsky played fewer than nine minutes.
“I was hoping,” Trotz said, asked if thought the Stars game might have signaled a turning point for Burky. “But it didn’t; it was a one-game thing. That’s where we want the consistency from him—his thought processes, details, systematically. It’s probably a good time right now.”
Joining Burakovsky as a healthy scratch against New Jersey will be Bowey, who has also struggled with consistency.
Bowey, though, is a rookie trying to find his way at one of the game’s most complicated positions. Burakovksy, on the other hand, has appeared in 215 games spread over four seasons, all under Trotz.
“The biggest thing with Andre is we’ve got get him consistent being, not only engaged in the game—he always gives you lots of try—but all the details, all the consistency,” Trotz said. “He shouldn’t go 20 games without a point or a goal or whatever. There’s times when we’ve played him and he probably shouldn’t be in the lineup.”
Trotz added: “We’ve got to force him to get to the next level. Sometimes it’s a little bit of tough love. Sometimes it’s getting a player to realize how much being on the ice means to him. There’s no entitlements or anything like that. He’s a veteran player now. He’s a young veteran player that we expect to be really good, no different than Madison Bowey.”
As for Bowey, he saw a season-low 9:34 of ice time in the come-from-behind win over Boston on Thursday night.