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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today’s player: No. 7 Andre Burakovsky

Throughout this countdown, we have talked about players who need to produce more to help the Caps make up for the offensive production they lost in the offseason. But really there are two players the team will count on to make up the gap left by the loss of Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson. The first is Jakub Vrana who will need to not only make the team this year, but play in a second or third-line role. The second is Andre Burakovsky.

A hand injury forced Burakovsky to miss some time last season, but even so, 12 goals in 64 games is not the level of production the team is expecting from such a talented player. It's prove it time for the young Swede.

RELATED: DEVANTE SMITH-PELLY WAS SURPRISED BY HIS BUY OUT, BUT IS CONFIDENT HEADING INTO CAPS' CAMP

Burakovsky knows that. He scored two goals in the opener last season, but was held scoreless for the next 26 games. Finally, after going without a point for seven straight games, head coach Barry Trotz pulled him from the lineup as a healthy scratch. Burakovsky got the message and scored a goal and an assist in his first game back. That message better carry over to this season considering the Caps will need him to take on a much larger role.

The good news is that Burakovsky showed he could handle a top-line role in the playoffs. With Alex Ovechkin dealing with a knee injury and the team facing elimination, Trotz moved Burakovsky to the top line. He responded with three goals and one assist in three games. Whether he is on the top line to start the season remains to be seen, but he will almost certainly be in the top six.

Johansson and Williams combined for 48 goals last season. If Vrana is able to make the team, a reasonable goal for him would be around 15 goals. That means the Caps will be looking for Burakovsky to contribute 20-30 goals next season. That is a lofty expectation for a player whose career-high is 17, but he has the talent to do it. He needs to live up to that potential this season.

Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
 No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker

 No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
 No. 17 Christian Djoos

— No. 16 Madison Bowey
— No. 15 Jay Beagle
— No. 14 Brett Connolly
— No. 13 Tom Wilson
— No. 12 Lars Eller
— No. 11 Jakub Vrana
— No. 10 Brooks Orpik
— No. 9 John Carlson
— No. 8 Dmitry Orlov

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Ducks

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USA TODAY Sports

5 reasons the Caps beat the Ducks

This game was not going the Caps' way through two periods. Everything changed in the final frame, however, as the Capitals rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime. Alex Ovechkin did the rest in a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally for the win.

Braden Holtby  holding the goal line late in the second (about 4:10 left)

Washington trailed 2-0 in the second and the Ducks were looking for more late. A shot from Derek Grant on the left went wide and hit off the backboards right to Dennis Rasmussen who tried to stuff the puck on Holtby's right. Holtby dove to cover the goal line. Critically, his goal stick stuck out past the post and neither Rasmussen nor Logan Shaw could get the puck past the stick to get the puck to the front and stuff it in. Once the puck finally did squirt free into the crease, Hotlby gloved it. A 3-0 deficit may have been lights out for Washington.

RELATED: SEE TARIK'S 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-DUCKS

Nicklas Backstrom's early third period goal

Trying to overcome a two-goal deficit in one period is a daunting task. Every second that ticks by makes your comeback bid harder. The fact that Nicklas Backstrom was able to strike just over three minutes into the third period was absolutely critical. Backstrom was able to net a rebound off of an Alex Ovechkin shot just over three minutes into the third period. The Caps went from a two-goal deficit to trailing by one with 17 minutes remaining. Suddenly, that mountain they had to climb did not seem so high.

A lucky tip or a veteran call?

If you've been yelling for Evgeny Kuznetsov to shoot the puck more, you were probably pleased with his third period goal to tie the game at two. With Tom Wilson open on the backdoor, Kuznetsov chose to call his own number and fired a shot past Gibson. Or did he? Was Kuznetsov trying to pass that puck? Take a look at the replay.

Just at the last second, Andrew Cogliano hits either the puck or the stick of Kuznetsov. Whether he meant to pass and it was a lucky break or he was thinking shot the whole way, it worked out for the Caps.

WATCH: ALEX OVECHKIN'S OVERTIME WINNER OVER ANAHEIM

Braden Holtby's two early saves on Rickard Rakell in overtime

Rakell wanted the Ducks to win this game. Less than a minute into overtime, he had a lane to shoot on Holtby. Holtby made the initial save, but the rebound bounced to the faceoff circle. Both of the trailing players in red skated past. Holtby took a step forward to try to clear the puck from danger, but then saw Rakell had a step on him to collect his own rebound. He stopped, then kicked out the pad to make an incredible save to deny Rakell again about 10 feet out of the crease.

Alex Ovechkin's bullet

Sometimes when you play against a player like Ovechkin, there's nothing you can do. At the end of his shift, Ovechkin elected to carry the puck into the offensive zone rather than passing it off to change up. He was forced to the boards by Brandon Montour and decided just to tee-up the mini slap shot. When you're the greatest goal scorer of a generation, however, even a shot from the top of the faceoff circle near the boards is a dangerous shot. 

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Tarik's Three Stars: Alex Ovechkin completes Capitals OT comeback

Tarik's Three Stars: Alex Ovechkin completes Capitals OT comeback

For 40 minutes, Saturday’s showdown vs. the Ducks was The John Gibson Show.

But the Anaheim goaltender could only keep the surging Caps at bay for so long.

Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov rallied the home team in the third period, then Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to lift Washington to a thrilling 3-2 victory.

The Caps have now won a season-high six in a row at home and three straight overall. Meanwhile, the Ducks’ last four losses have come after regulation.

Tarik’s three stars of the night:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin sealed the come-from-behind win by ripping a shot past Gibson 1:58 into the extra session. No. 8 also had the primary assist on Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying goal in the third period. The goal was Ovechkin’s 23rd on the season (tied for first) and the 21st of his career in overtime, which is the highest total in NHL history.  

2-Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuznetsov scored Washington’s second goal...though it looked like he was actually trying to pass the puck. But thanks to a deflection off a Ducks' defender's stick, the puck changed directions and slipped past Gibson to knot the score, 2-2, at 7:27 of the third period. 

Kuzy now has five points in the last three games (1 goal, 4 assists).

3-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

For a long time this season, it looked like Backstrom may never score again. Now, he can’t stop scoring. His second goal in two games—and fourth in six contests—cut the Caps’ deficit to 2-1 four minutes before Kuznetsov’s strike. The scoring play began with a giveaway by Anaheim defenseman Josh Manson deep in Anaheim’s end.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.