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2015-16 Capitals Season in Review: Andre Burakovsky

2015-16 Capitals Season in Review: Andre Burakovsky

With the Capitals’ 2015-16 season now in the rearview mirror, we continue with our numerical player-by-player roster analysis.

No. 65 Andre Burakovsky

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Feb. 9, 2017)

Games: 79

Goals: 17

Assists: 21

Points: 38

Shots: 126

Plus-minus: Plus-4

Penalty minutes: 12

Time on ice: 13:01

Playoff stats: 12 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, minus-1, 6 PIM, 12:32, 16 shots

Contract status: One year remaining on 3-year, entry-level $2.775 million contract. ($894,166 cap hit, $832,500 salary in 2016-17).

Thanks to the Capitals sprinting out to a 27-6-2 start to the 2015-16 season, few people made mention of Andre Burakovsky stumbling out of the gates with one goal in his first 32 games.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz noticed, benching the then 20-year-old rookie for three of those games because of defensive mistakes that led to offensive chances the other way.

“Yeah, sometimes it’s good to have those ups and downs,” Burakovsky said. “It’s good to have so you learn how to get out of it quick, because everyone’s going to have downs; it’s just reality, it’s just how it is. But the thing you want to learn and the thing you want to do is get rid of them quick.

“I think my downs were maybe 10 or 15 games and that’s something you have to get rid of real quick. That’s something I’ve been working on this year and I think it helped to have those downs. (The offense) is going to come eventually, but I need to work on getting rid of (scoring slumps) real quick.”

Burakovsky bounced between right wing and left wing in the first half of the season, seeing time with third-liners Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle before settling in with second-liners Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams in the second half. Burakovsky did not score his second goal of the season until Dec. 30 but he went on a scoring spree from Jan. 10 to Feb. 26, piling up nine goals and 11 assists in 19 games. He ended the regular season with one goal in his final 11 games, finishing the season with 17 goals (eight more than his rookie season) and 21 assists (eight more than his rookie season) for 38 points.

All but four of Burakovsky’s 38 points came at even strength, putting him in a fifth-place tie on the Caps with T.J. Oshie, who also had 34 even-strength points. Burakovsky managed to put up those numbers while averaging just six seconds more of ice time per game (13:01) than last season (12:55 last season). He also averaged just 47 seconds a game on the power play.

Aside from playing alongside Kuznetsov and Williams, a big reason for Burakovsky’s boost in offense was his increased willingness to shoot the puck. His average shots per game jumped from 1.2 as a rookie to 1.6 this season. But Burakovsky said he also learned more about what is expected of him on and off the ice in his second season, especially after being assigned to the AHL Hershey Bears six times in his rookie season.

“I think I learned a lot,” Burakovsky said. “The first year you’re just feeling your way and enjoying everything. Now they’re giving so much to you and you understand how the league works and how it is to be a young guy in the league. The first year you’re just watching and learning. The second year, I think you take action a little bit more and try to develop yourself and do all the right things. I think for me I think I had a good year and I learned a lot from a lot of guys, too. I definitely took two big steps.”

Burakovsky’s lack of production in the playoffs – in 12 games he managed just one goal on 16 shots and took three penalties after taking just six minors all season – showed he still has some work to do when it comes to getting to the net for more scoring opportunities.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said when asked if he could have given more in the playoffs. “I think we all thought like that. From my perspective, I don’t think I had as much success as I wanted to. I think I could have done a lot more. I think I played decent, but I could have done a lot more.

“Obviously, I haven’t been real happy … but it’s over now and I’m just trying to focus on the summer here and get ready for next season and get some good workouts in and get bigger and stronger to get ready and have a great year next year.”

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said obtaining a bottom six forward is his “main focus” in the offseason.

“The other focus," MacLellan said, "is development and we'll continue to develop our players- Kuznetsov, Burakovsky, (Tom) Wilson, (Dmitry) Orlov, (Nate) Schmidt. We've got to continue to make these guys better.” 

With Chimera’s future with the Capitals uncertain, Burakovsky, who stands 6-foot-3, 202 pounds, likely will see more power-play time next season and will be asked to provide a stronger presence along the walls and in front of the net. Depending on whom the Capitals pick up in the offseason, Burakovsky, a left-handed shooter, could begin next season as a second-line left wing with centers Nicklas Backstrom or Kuznstsov, and Williams on the right.

“I saw left wing this year and at the end of the year it was more right wing,” Burakovsky said. “To be honest, I don’t really feel any difference. I like both sides. The only good thing for me on the right wing is that I can cut in the middle and shoot and that’s something I kind of like to do. It doesn’t really matter where I’m playing, I just want to play.”

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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Stars will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Stars game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Islanders game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”