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It's confirmed: Andre Burakovsky will return to the Caps' lineup on Wednesday

It's confirmed: Andre Burakovsky will return to the Caps' lineup on Wednesday

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.

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“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.

MORE CAPITALS: USA Today makes bold predictions on the Caps for 2017

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

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Evgeny Kuznetsov considered day-to-day, will miss Sunday's game in Philadelphia

Evgeny Kuznetsov has been declared day-to-day with an undisclosed upper body injury, the Caps announced Saturday afternoon.

He will not play Sunday against the Flyers, marking the first time in four seasons that the durable 25-year-old center will have missed a game.

Kuznetsov, the Caps’ assists leader and first line pivot over the past week, was injured in the second period of Friday’s 6-3 win over the Islanders. On the play, he slashed on the arm by New York defenseman Thomas Hickey before he tumbled awkwardly into the end boards.


Kuznetsov did not return to the contest.

The Caps did not practice on Saturday as they made their way to Philadelphia, where they'll look to extend their winning streak to five games.  

The team, per usual, did not elaborate about the extent or nature of Kuznetsov’s injury. But it does seem to be a good sign that he was not listed as week-to-week—the designation the Caps typically reserve for more severe injuries. And with a two point lead on Pittsburgh in the Metro Division standings—and a game in hand—they can actually afford to be cautious with one of their most important players.


The injury does, however, come at a time when Kuznetsov appeared to be hitting his stride. Including the two assists he had racked up prior to leaving Friday’s game, Kuzy has amassed five goals and 11 assists in 10 games.    

Without Kuznetsov on Sunday, Nicklas Backstrom, Lars Eller and Jay Beagle will be the team’s most experienced centers. Travis Boyd and/or Chandler Stephenson figure to be deployed as the fourth pivot.

Coach Barry Trotz is expected to meet with reporters prior to Sunday’s game. It’s possible he’ll shed some more light on Kuznetsov’s outlook at that time.

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

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Who ya got? Trotz faces tough choice in net after Holtby's strong return

Braden Holtby has made Barry Trotz’s weekend very difficult, but in a good way.

Back-to-back games against the New York Islanders offered the Capitals an opportunity to play both Philipp Grubauer and Holtby. Grubauer stayed hot earning another win for Washington. On Friday, Holtby got his first start since March 6 and played very well.

“A win is good,” Holtby said after the game. “I felt pretty comfortable. Some things to build off of and things that I want to get better at. It was a step in the right direction.”


A 22 save effort on Friday was bookended by two big saves. The first shot Holtby faced was a turnover on the power play that led to a dangerous shorthanded scoring opportunity for John Tavares early in the first period. Then in the third, with the Capitals leading 5-3 and the Islanders trying to mount a comeback, Holtby turned aside a breakaway opportunity for star rookie Mathew Barzal.

“I thought he was pretty solid,” Trotz said. “He looked really confident.”

“I felt a lot better,” Holtby said. “Not that I was feeling horrible before, it's just you get refreshed. It's like anything, you have a week off work, a holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed.”

And that brings us to Sunday.

On Sunday, the Capitals play the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are a team in playoff position in desperate need of points after seven of their last eight games.

When asked on Wednesday who he thought would start Sunday’s game, Trotz said, “We're in a result business and we need some results so we'll see who is looking the sharpest and gives us the best chance to win.”

Both Grubauer and Holtby were impressive in their starts over the Islanders. You can’t argue Holtby is suddenly the hotter hand after one win considering how well Grubauer has played of late, but if Holtby remaisn the team’s No. 1, shouldn’t he get the next start after a strong winning performance?


Trotz was asked after the game who would start on Sunday after Holtby’s win.

“They're both playing well so I can't even answer that right now to be honest with you,” he said. “I do know that we have a number of games this week and whatever way go, obviously I'm going to sit down with the coaches and whatever way we go, I think they're both going to get some time this week.”

“I think you have to take it game-by-game,” Trotz added. “Bottom line is that you've got to make a decision and go with it and if your decision is that goalie A is a little hotter or you've just got a gut feel then you go with it and you have to live with it good or bad.”

So for now, it sounds as if we will see a rotation in net as Trotz continues evaluating which netminder gives the team the best chance to win in the playoffs. It is a tough position for the Caps’ bench boss, but, if both goalies continue to perform, having to choose between a hot Grubauer and a resurgent Holtby is a good problem to have and much preferable to having to choose between backup Grubauer and slumping Holtby.

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