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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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Game 7: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 7: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET. Coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. ET with Capitals FaceOff.

How to Watch: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals vs. Maple Leafs game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-MAPLE LEAFS GAME?

The Capitals (3-2-1) take on the Maple Leafs (4-1-0) Tuesday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-MAPLE LEAFS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Maple Leafs game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Capitals FaceOff gets things started at 6:00 p.m. ET followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington following the game for Caps Extra followed by Caps Overtime and Caps in 30 for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Capitals @ Flyers
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps OverTime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-MAPLE LEAFS GAME?

The Capitals-Maple Leafs game, as well as the pre and postgame shows, 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.

WHAT ARE THE LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-MAPLE LEAFS GAME?

Here are the projected lines:

Forwards
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Jakub Vrana
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Tom Wilson
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defense
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Tyler Graovac, Nathan Walker, Aaron Ness

CAPITALS-MAPLE LEAFS OPEN THREAD

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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Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

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USA Today Sports Images

Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

Lars Eller did not practice on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz shuffled his injury-depleted defense corps.

Here’s how everyone lined up:

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana

Connolly – Graovac – Wilson

Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Walker

Defense

Orpik – Bowey

Djoos – Carlson

Orlov – Chorney

Ness

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: Caps destroyed by Flyers in lopsided road loss

Some notes, quotes and observations from KCI:

  • Trotz said Eller showed up sick and was sent home to recover and avoid spreading whatever he’s got. Trotz also isn’t sure whether the veteran center will be able to suit up against Toronto on Tuesday. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that right now. We’ll see where his energy level is.”

 

  • The coaching staff shuffled the D-pairs with speedy Toronto coming to town. But Trotz also cautioned not to read too much into the tandems, since they’re likely to change throughout Tuesday’s game. Trotz even hinted that a final decision on which six D-men will suit up had not yet been made. “They’re going to be shuffled from now until we get people back,” Trotz said, referring to the injured Matt Niskanen, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury. “There are pairs for practice. There are pairs for parts of games. It’ll be a little bit situational.”

 

  • If defenseman Taylor Chorney does get back into the lineup, he knows that he needs to make a positive impression after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. “I’ve been through this quite a bit over the last couple of years, but at the same time you probably want to make a little bit of a statement,” he acknowledged. “So for me, if I do get the opportunity to play, it would be a big game.”  

 

  • Speaking of the Leafs, they’re off to a 4-1-0 start with Auston Matthews (5 goals, including two OT winners) leading the way. Overall, Toronto is averaging a league-leading 5.2 goals per game. As you might imagine, Trotz had a lot of praise for last season’s first round opponent in general and Matthews specifically. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz said. “He’s six-foot-[three]. He skates great. He’s got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q. and he’s strong on the puck.”  

 

  • As Washington attempts to turn the page from Saturday’s 8-2 clunker in Philly, Trotz said one area he’d like to see shored up is the number of shots the Caps have been allowing. Through six games, they’re yielding 34.5 shots on goal per game (tied for ninth most). Last year, they allowed 27.8 (fourth best). “We’re not as structured defensively,” Trotz said. “We haven’t put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We’ve put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now we have to get a little more balance. …We have to get that back into balance; we practiced some of that today.”

 

  • As you may remember, Madison Bowey’s father, Will, jumped on the first flight out of British Columbia that he could find in the hopes of catching his son’s NHL debut Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. As it turned out, though, he experienced a couple of travel delays and didn’t make it. Dad will, however, be in attendance Tuesday night.

 

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