PHILADELPHIA—Andre Burakovsky will indeed return to the Capitals’ lineup Wednesday against the Flyers, the winger confirmed after the morning skate.
Burakovsky, who hasn’t scored a goal since potting a pair in the season opener back on Oct. 13, sat out the last three games as a healthy scratch.
In the pre-game skate at Wells Fargo Center, Burakovsky was on the third line with Lars Eller and rookie Jakub Vrana. Burakovsky was the right wing, which is different from earlier in the week when he lined up on the left.
“That’s where he’s ultimately going to end up, so we’ll have him do that for a bit,” Coach Barry Trotz said of Burakovsky switching sides.
Burakovsky said he’s comfortable playing either wing—just so long as he’s playing.
“Yeah, it feels good to be back in,” he said with a smile. “I’m just going to have a good game today and hopefully stay in.”
The 21-year-old said he spent his time out of the lineup working on speeding up his release, recognizing soft spots in D-zone coverage, finding open shooting lanes and becoming less predictable.
“Just getting my shot off a little bit quicker, shoot more, put myself in positon where I can score,” he said. “I said before, I don’t think my game was bad. It was just that I couldn’t produce and that’s what I’ve been working on and hopefully it will be back tonight.”
Burakovsky added: “I have been working on putting myself in position where I can have a quicker shot and get the puck a little bit quicker. Sometimes I put myself in position where I don’t really have any time and don’t really have any space to shoot, but I was just trying to get it through and it hit someone. So I’ve been working a little bit on just putting myself in an open spot and find open ice because I know in this league when you find open ice the puck will get to you. So it’s just a little something that’s going to help.”
Coach Barry Trotz said he’s looking for Burakovsky to do a little less thinking and play a little more instinctively.
“I think one of the things is when you're pressing, you overthink it a little bit,” Trotz said. “I think that's what he's implying...that he's going to get the puck and move his feet and then play instinctively off of that, whereas I think before he was getting the puck and looking for that next play rather than getting moving and getting into those spaces.”
“So,” Trotz continued, “I think just that mindset of being a little more decisive in what he's doing and it'll come a little quicker for him. Things close down in this level of hockey very quickly. When you're standing and trying to figure out where that puck should go, it closes down. There's too many smart players on the ice.”
Although he’s only got two goals and eight assists in 27 games, Burakovsky hasn’t lost belief in himself.
“It’s not like last year,” he reiterated. “Last year I didn’t really have my confidence and I wasn’t really playing well at all. This year it’s been different. I think I’ve been playing good but it’s just the points haven’t been there for me like I wanted them to be. I mean, two goals in the first game and then nothing after that, that’s not really good. But I still had lot of chances and I could have produced a lot more. The chances are there. The day when I don’t shoot the puck that’s the day I’m going to be worried. So I’m not worried about my game at all. As long as I create chances, I’m fine.”
Burakovsky has two goals and an assist in six career games against the Flyers.
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