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Will Andre Burakovsky's demotion spark the Caps' third line?

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USA TODAY Sports

Will Andre Burakovsky's demotion spark the Caps' third line?

Andre Burakovksy was bumped down to the third line on Thursday as Caps Coach Barry Trotz attempts to jumpstart the scuffling winger and ignite his team’s inconsistent goal production.

The move, of course, reunites Burakovsky (0 goals, 2 assists) with Lars Eller (0 goals, 2 assists) and Brett Connolly (1 goal, 1 assist).

Among Trotz's reasons for making the switch:

  • The trio had a very productive stretch together midway through last season…and all three could use a spark right now.
  • A shakeup was probably in order, anyway. The Caps have scored two or fewer goals in three of the past four games. Now two lines have new pieces, with Burakovsky joining the third line and rugged winger Tom Wilson (0g, 0a) on the left side of Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. In fact, Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom and Oshie have accounted for 77-percent of the team’s goals thus far.
  • The move puts Burakovsky, a left shot, on the right side. Trotz believes he’s more effective attacking from that position.   

Asked about Burakovsky’s struggles, Trotz acknowledged that he’s seeing what everyone is seeing: No. 65 is taking too long to pull the trigger on his shots.

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“He is taking a little bit too long and they’re getting blocked,” Trotz said. “The window is so small in this league because the defenders are good and there’s back pressure [from forwards]. And when the window gets extended from his standpoint offensively, those windows of opportunity get shut down real quick.”

Burakovsky has also missed the net—a lot. According to NHL.com, he’s put nine shots on net (four snap shots, four wrist shots and a redirection). He’s also misfired nine times, sending two over the net and seven wide of it.

“Right now, when I didn’t score yet, I’m trying to just snipe a little bit too much, just trying to pick that one corner instead of catching [the puck] and getting it off really quick and maybe surprise the goalie,” Burakovsky said. “I’m just trying to do a little bit too much right now. That’s what happens when you want something to really happen. I really want to get going, get my game going. And then you try to force stuff. …It’s just confidence. When I get the first one, they are going to start coming automatically.”

He added: “I’m not worried at all.”

More from Burakovsky on speeding up his shot.

As for moving Burakovsky to the right side, Trotz explained: “Playing on the [right] side it allows him to get a shot off a little quicker than playing on the left side. Because when you’re playing the left side you’re either shooting a little bit from the outside or you’re dragging it into the middle and then you’re trying to turn your body and get through.”

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Eller said it only took a few minutes for the trio to begin feeling comfortable again.

“There is chemistry there that we know is there,” he said. “We felt it in practice, created a couple of good looks. It feels really natural playing with Conno and Burky. When you have good chemistry you have anticipation for each other’s next move. You just know what the guy is going to do next and where the puck is going to go next. That’s chemistry and we have some of that.”

Obviously, it’s impossible to know if the move will have the desired effect. But we do know this much: the one thing that’s kept Burakovsky from reaching the 20-goal plateau in past seasons were extended droughts. And this—if he doesn’t get on the board soon—is threatening to become another one of those.

“I said [to him], ‘Don’t think too much,’” Trotz recalled of a recent conversation he had with the 22-year-old. “Just understand you’re going to be a real productive player in this league for a long time, and understand what’s giving you trouble finding the back of the net.’ I think he’ll be fine.”

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Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

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USA TODAY Sports

Barry Trotz explains why Philipp Grubauer will get the start vs. the NHL-best Bolts

Coach Barry Trotz did not make any changes to his forward combos or defensive pairs of ahead of Friday’s showdown with the NHL-best Lightning.

He did, however, make a significant change elsewhere: Philipp Grubauer will get the nod against the Bolts as the Caps begin a tough back-to-back set that wraps up Saturday night in Toronto.

It’ll be Grubauer’s second start on home ice this season.

“Just to change a little bit of the order there,” Trotz explained. “Grubi has worked hard. It gives him an opportunity at home.”

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Grubauer, who turns 26 on Saturday and has family in town, is still searching for his first win of the season. He’s 0-5-1 with a 3.86 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. In fairness, though, he’s drawn some tough assignments. In fact, four of his six starts have been the backend of a back-to-back.

“More than anything,” Trotz added, “he just deserved it.”

There’s also this: Grubauer is 3-0-1 vs. the Lightning in his career, with a .923 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Asked how much matchups factor into goaltending decisions, Trotz said: “A little bit but not really. I wanted to give him a home start, so why not now?”

With Grubauer set to face Nikita Kucherov and Co., Braden Holtby figures to get the Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

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The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

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Via @JPFinlayNBCS

The Capitals' presence was felt at the Redskins' Thanksgiving game

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that tends to be dominated by football. Even with the Redskins hosting the New York Giants on Thursday, the Capitals' still had their presence felt.

Andre Burakovsky decided to spend his Thanksgiving night at FedEx Field at the game to cheer on the Redskins. He tweeted out a picture from his seat.

Just as Burakovsky was there supporting the Redskins, Redskins offensive lineman Morgan Moses was showing love for the Caps with an Alex Ovechkin jersey.

The Redskins pulled out a critical 20-10 win over the division-rival Giants on Thursday giving everyone something to celebrate on the holiday. The Capitals will try to keep the hometown fans happy as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

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