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Caps' Andre Burakovsky rejoins teammates, eyes return to game action

Caps' Andre Burakovsky rejoins teammates, eyes return to game action

Andre Burakovsky says he and the Caps’ medical staff have discussed next week as a potential target for his return to the lineup.

The 22-year-old winger has missed the last 14 games with a broken right hand.

Since Burakovsky has been out, his linemates, Lars Eller and Brett Connolly, have combined for just six points (2 goals, 4 assists).

“I feel pretty good,” Burakovsky said Tuesday after participating in the morning skate, his first on-ice activity with his teammates since getting hurt. “I still have got some issues with my hand. Obviously, it’s going to be like that for a while.”

RELATED: Prediction recap: Caps find their offense in win over Wild

Burakovsky was not a full participant in the skate, but he did engage in passing and shooting drills.

Afterward, he said that he’s making progress each day but is still experiencing some discomfort while shooting and stickhandling with his right hand.

“I was skating this weekend, on Saturday, and I could barely shoot the puck,” he said, referring to a non-contact scrimmage against members of the training and equipment staff. “And [just now] I was feeling good. I shot the puck pretty good and passing and stickhandling felt good, too.”

Asked about a return date, Burakovsky said internal discussions have pegged next week as an option. The Caps close out this week’s slate against Nashville on Thursday and in Tampa on Saturday, then they open a three-game home stand against Calgary (Tuesday), Columbus (Thursday) and Arizona (Saturday) next week.

”We’re talking about sometime next week, probably, that I can come back and play a game again,” Burakovsky said. “But it all depends on how I feel. Like I said, it’s day-to-day. Some days it hurts. Some days it feels better. So it's tough, really, to say an exact date.”

Tuesday was a good day—for his hand and his psyche.

“It’s been a good day for me,” he said. “I've been missing the boys. They’ve been on the road a lot and I’ve just been home. It’s been a couple of real tough weeks with [strength and conditioning coach] Mark Nemish, for sure. Skating with no pucks every day for an hour, it’s not a lot of fun. It’s really, really tough. I’m glad I’m past that right now and I'm looking forward to being with the team.”

Barry Trotz acknowledged that Burakovsky is progressing nicely, but the head coach declined to put a timeframe on the winger’s return.

“He was happy to see everybody; he’s been lonely,” Trotz cracked. “When I get the 'okay' for him, he’ll be back in the lineup. I don’t have a timeframe.”

Prior to getting hurt, Burakovsky was on a hot streak, having recorded 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games.

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin has vintage performance when the Caps needed one

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

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JJ vs. the fans bold predictions: A big night for Tom Wilson?

In the very first edition of JJ vs. the fans bold predictions, no one got a single prediction right. Well, there’s nowhere to go but up!

The Caps hit the road on Friday to take on the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus). Let’s check out our predictions.

RELATED: MADISON BOWEY IS ALREADY LOOKING MUCH IMPROVED

Fan predictions:

For those who don't know, a Gordie Howe hat trick is a goal, an assist and a fight all in one game. Tom Wilson gets the promotion to the top line tonight and Wade is expecting big things. I am not so bullish on it. I think adjusting to a new line and a new side, Wilson has moved from right wing to left, will take Wilson some time.

The Caps face former defenseman Mike Green and Garrett thinks he is going to get one past Braden Holtby. This is pretty bold considering Green has yet to record a single point in five games against his former squad.

The Capitals’ defense has had its problems of late and it has certainly dragged down the penalty kill. Remember how hot the penalty kill was to start the season? Now the Caps rank 19th in the league at 78.6-percent. Still, two power play goals is a lot considering Detroit ranks 24th in the NHL with a success rate of only 14.8-percent.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-RED WINGS

JJ’s predictions:

The Caps will allow more than two goals

Washington’s defense is not as bad as they looked against Philadelphia, but it isn't as good as they looked against Toronto either. One thing that helped against the Maple Leafs was that the game was at home. Barry Trotz could get the favorable matchups for his rookie defensemen as his team had the second change. That won’t be true on Friday in Detroit. The defense will struggle as a result.

John Carlson will play more than he did against Toronto

See above. Carlson logged a hefty 27:33 on Tuesday and that was with the Caps getting the second change. The Caps will rely even more on him on the road.

Washington will get at least two goals form players not named Ovechkin, Oshie and Backstrom

Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom have 17 of the Caps’ 22 goals this season. Perhaps the big three will have another big night, but eventually the team will need someone else to step up and score. Whether because the team emphasizes it or through just dumb luck, the Caps are going to record a few points from a few of their other players on Friday.

Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

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In just one week, Madison Bowey already looks like a much improved player

Madison Bowey’s second game went a lot better than his first and it’s not just because the Caps allowed only two goals as opposed to eight.

Despite being thrust into a significant role in his first taste of NHL experience, Bowey seemed to settle in a bit in his second contest even as it came against the NHL’s best offense in the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Just everything in the first game felt like it happened so quick, I think,” Bowey said Thursday after the team’s practice. “It was obviously nice to come back in Washington and play in the home in front of the home crowd, get a practice in on Monday before the game Tuesday with the team. Just all the little factors that went into it definitely helped and I think it definitely felt a lot smoother out there on the ice.”

RELATED: BURAKOVSKY DEMOTED TO THIRD LINE

Playing at home definitely has its benefits for the coaching staff as they try to protect the rookie defensemen. Home teams get the chance to change after the visiting team allowing the coaches to pick the matchups they want for Bowey.

More favorable matchups certainly helped him, but Bowey also seemed to play with more confidence and a level of calm that was not there against Philadelphia. For Bowey, the difference was having time to settle in and practice with the team.

“Obviously this team is one of the veteran teams in the league so to be able to practice against top players in the league, it goes a long way,” Bowey said.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS SHOULD NOT TRADE PROSPECT IIYA SAMSONOV

Bowey was called up for a Saturday game in Philadelphia after Matt Niskanen suffered a hand injury Friday in New Jersey. That means he quickly had to join the team and jump into the lineup for his first ever NHL game without any practice with the Caps at all.

Bowey now has two practices and two games under his belt and even a team-building day at FBI training. The effect that has had on his game was noticeable on Tuesday. It should be even more clear on Friday as the team travels to face the Detroit Red Wings.

“I feel myself improving every day,” Bowey said. “It forces you to really work hard and be on your top every day you come to the rink so for me, just having those two practices already have been huge. I feel the development's getting a lot better early.”