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Has Burakovsky broken his sophomore jinx?


Has Burakovsky broken his sophomore jinx?

A few weeks into his rookie season last year, when he caught the NHL by surprise with three goals and seven assists in his first 13 games, Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky said he was surprised at how easy the transition was from junior hockey to the NHL.

This season it’s taken 36 games for Burakovsky to get to 10 points and he’s singing a different tune.

“I didn’t really know what it was like when I came in the first year,” said Burakovsky, who netted his fourth goal and 10th point of the season Tuesday night in the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Bruins in Boston.

“I knew it was the best league in the worlds and I was just real happy to be here. The second year you want to find your spot on the team and get up in the lines.

“You think you know everything the second year but that’s the wrong way. You don’t really know how tough the league is yet. You’ve just got to stick with it.”

Burakovsky’s strong rookie season – he netted nine goals and 13 assists in 53 games with the Caps – gave him the chance to start the season on the Caps’ second line. But when he struggled to find the back of the net, scoring just two goals in his first 18 games, Capitals coach Barry Trotz pulled him from the lineup for a couple games in late November, suggesting he talk with Eric Hoffberg, a mental toughness coach.

Burakovsky said the sessions were productive, helping him get through a stretch in which went a total of 25 games without a goal, the longest goal drought of his life.

“The second year, everyone says it’s a hard year,” Burakovsky said. “I realize that now. I’m just trying to stick with it every day. Sometimes you’re not playing well and it seems like everything is going against you. But you have to stick with it and work through it.”

Burakovsky did just that, scoring his first goal in more than two months on Dec. 30 with just 7:22 of ice time, then getting promoted to the second line when Jay Beagle required surgery to repair an injured hand.

On Tuesday night Burakovsky played 16:56 and scored his second goal in four games when he found a seam below the left circle and snapped a beautiful pass from new linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.  

“A great pass and a great release by Burt,” Trotz said. “Most goalies will get across if he cradles it or handles it for a split second. But he got it away and hit the back of the net.”

Burakovsky’s face lit up when asked how he likes playing alongside Kuznetsov.

“When Kuz has the puck, mine and (Justin Williams’) job is to find open ice because we know Kuzy can give us the puck. If we’re open for like a half second the puck is going to be there, so our job is just to find open ice and Kuzy can really find the open (passing) lanes.”

Burakovsky, who stands 6-foot-1, 178 pounds, also played a strong physical game against the Bruins, dishing out three hits.

“Sometimes I have to be that, too,” Burakovsky said. “It’s not something that happens every game, but you want to battle for the puck and get in there and show that I can do that job, too.”

With Burakovsky now finding his scoring touch and Marcus Johansson fitting in nicely at third-line center – he has two goals and one assist since replacing Beagle on the third line – the Caps might  fight it unnecessary to search outside the organization for another forward.

“It’s two-fold for us,” Trotz said. “We’re fortunate that Jojo can go in and play center.

“And it allows Burakovsky to move up to the top six. We anticipate him eventually being that type of player. I think he’s been trending lately because of his play, looking more like the player we know he will be.

“He’s confident with the puck, he’s shooting the puck, he’s playing with some pace and making good decisions with and without the puck. It gives him an opportunity to get those minutes up and getting some confidence in his game.”

Burakovsky says that while Beagle’s injury is unfortunate, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for him to show his worth as a top-six forward.

“The last 10-12 games it’s been really good,” he said. “It’s going the right way now. I really feel like I can do stuff out there. I feel really good in my legs and my body feels really good.”

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)