Andre Burakovsky

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Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Burakovsky is back in for Game 6

Coach Barry Trotz indicated that Andre Burakovsky’s benching wouldn’t last long.

And it didn’t.

The 23-year-old winger will return to the lineup on Monday night as the Caps look to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

During the morning skate, Burakovsky skated on the third line with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly—a trio that’s enjoyed some success in the past.

It’s been a difficult postseason for Burakovsky, who has not recorded a point in six games. He missed 10 contests after suffering a hand injury in Game 2 of the first round that required minor surgery.

What he found out upon returning was this: coming back from injury in the regular season is hard...and it’s exponentially tougher in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely tough to jump in in the semifinal,” he said. “When you’re out, you just want to get in and help the team and do what you’re good at—score goals and produce.”

“What I realized is that it’s not that easy,” he added. “I really thought I could jump in and just play like I did before I got injured. 

But obviously it didn’t work out as well I thought it would.”  

Burakovsky also said that he’s planning to work with a sports psychologist this summer in an effort to maintain an even keel when things aren’t going as well as he would like. It’s a problem that he said he’s struggled with since his childhood.

Asked what he hopes to see from Burakovsky in Game 6, Coach Barry Trotz kept it simple: offense.

The Caps have scored just two goals in each of the last three games, with Evgeny Kuznetsov contributing 50-percent of that total.

“He’s a guy that’s given us some good offense all through his time here,” Trotz said of Burakovsky. “We think that he can add some of that.”

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Burakovsky returns to Caps practice ahead of Game 1 vs. Lightning, Backstrom does not

Burakovsky returns to Caps practice ahead of Game 1 vs. Lightning, Backstrom does not

Andre Burakovsky returned to practice in a non-contact jersey on Wednesday and, in the words of Coach Barry Trotz, has been upgraded from day-to-day to week-to-week.

Burakovsky was not permitted to speak to reporters after practice but he did not seem to be overly encumbered by the upper-body injury that has sidelined him since early in the first round. Burakovsky has been making steady progress and his return to the lineup could be sooner rather than later

Trotz said Burakovsky will accompany the team to Tampa, where the Caps and Lightning open the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.

Nicklas Backstrom will also travel with the team, though he did not practice on Tuesday. He’s been out since Game 5 due to an upper-body injury.

“He’s working out and getting the therapy he needs,” Trotz said, adding that Backstrom is still considered day-to-day.

Trotz wouldn’t say whether he expects either player to suit up for Game 1. 

The Caps are slated to practice Thursday morning before departing for Tampa. Afterward, more information on the readiness (or lack thereof) of both forwards figures to be available.  

Burakovsky was not assigned to a line during Wednesday’s session and he didn’t take all of his usual reps. Backstrom’s spot in the middle of the second line, meanwhile, was occupied again by Lars Eller.

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Good news: Trotz expects Backstrom, Carlson to suit up Monday in Pittsburgh

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Good news: Trotz expects Backstrom, Carlson to suit up Monday in Pittsburgh

Nicklas Backstrom is expected to suit up in Pittsburgh on Monday night as the Caps look to eliminate the Penguins in Game 6 of the teams’ second-round series, Coach Barry Trotz said on Sunday.

Backstrom suffered an upper-body injury Saturday night and did not finish the game, a 6-3 Caps’ victory at Capital One Arena.

Although the nature and extent of Backstrom’s injury remain unknown, Coach Barry Trotz said he anticipates the star center will be able to play.

“He got some maintenance today,” Trotz said. “We'll see where he is tomorrow."

Asked if he expects Backstrom to play in Game 6, Trotz said, “Yeah.”

The Caps did not practice Sunday as they made their way back to Pittsburgh.

Backstrom’s availability—even if he’s limited—is critically important for a Caps’ forward core that’s already depleted. Tom Wilson will serve the final game of a three-game suspension on Monday, while Andre Burakovsky remains week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Burakovsky has resumed skating but he will not accompany the team to Pittsburgh, Trotz said.

Trotz also provided an update on defenseman John Carlson, who was evaluated for an injury after absorbing a high hit from Jake Guentzel in the final minute of Game 5.  

“He was looked at; I think he'll be fine,” Trotz said of Carlson.

As for Backstrom, it’ll be interesting to see how much he’s able to do. He did not record a point in Game 5 while skating a postseason-low 15:55prior to leaving the game in the third period. He also did not record any shot attempts.

“You’re always concerned any time that you’ve got anybody that’s nicked up at this time of year,” Trotz said. “But we’ll see where we are tomorrow.”

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