Andre Burakovsky is expected to take another significant step in his recovery from a broken hand on Friday morning in Arlington.
The Caps are scheduled to hit the ice at 11:30 for practice and, for the first time since mid-February, Burakovsky is slated to be a full participant, according to Coach Barry Trotz.
After the practice, Trotz said, the team will determine whether the 22-year-old will travel to Tampa. The Caps play the Lightning on Saturday night at Amalie Arena.
“If he survives that,” Trotz said before Thursday’s 2-1 overtime loss to Nashville, “then maybe he goes.”
Even if Burakovsky does make the trip, that doesn’t mean he’ll play. But he’s getting close, which is a big deal for a Washington team that’s averaged 2.0 goals per game over the past eight contests (3-4-1).
The third line produced the Caps’ only goal against the Predators—Brett Connolly capitalized on a turnover that Lars Eller forced—but prior to that strike the unit had been scuffling without Burakovsky.
In fact, in the 15 games before Burakovsky got hurt, the trio combined for 20 goals and 36 points. Since he’s been out, Connolly and Eller have a total of three goals and seven points.
The hope, Trotz said, is that Burakovsky’s speed and skill—and the chemistry the unit forged in January and early February—will help propel the line back to its pre-injury level.
“One of the things with Burakovsky is he obviously brings another level of skill,” Trotz said. “He’s chomping at the bit to get back in. He can make some pretty good plays.”
Whenever Burakovsky does return, Trotz also said he expects to see a player with fresh legs after missing more than a month.
“He’ll be fresh,” he said. “He’ll be ready to go. They were pretty productive before he got hurt, so when he gets back into the lineup, hopefully that line will get going a little bit more.”
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