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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.

RELATED: John Carlson is good to go vs. Flyers

“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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How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

How to watch: Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 3

The Washington Capitals remain undefeated in preseason play, thanks to Tom Wilson's clutch overtime goal and a Nicklas Backstrom bouncing saucer-pass-turned-shot

Saturday night, the Caps will get their first crack at the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs last season. This game is also the first one that comes after the Caps whittled their roster down after the first round of cuts, which included Caps 2019 draft picks Connor McMichael and Aliaksei Protas.

The Caps will face the Hurricanes in the regular season on October 5 at Capital One Arena in their home opener.

CAPITALS-HURRICANES PRESEASON GAME 3: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Saturday, September, 21, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

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I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

I Am The Prospect: Capitals' prospect Alex Alexeyev is focused on one goal - making the roster

Alex Alexeyev is the third Washington Capitals' prospect featured in NBC Sports Washington's I Am The Prospect series. Click here to check out more profiles from I am The Prospect.

Like most prospective NHL players, Alex Alexeyev dreams of the day he gets to lift the Stanley Cup over his head.

“It’s the best league in the world," Alexeyev said. "In childhood, they (are) always dreaming about raising that Stanley Cup. It’s my dream too.”

Standing at 6-foot, 3.5-inches tall, the 19-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, was the Capitals' last pick of the first round in the 2018 NHL Draft.

“He’s an untapped resource," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said. "I was really impressed with him last year, seeing him for the first time."

Alexeyev's journey to the big leagues began three years ago when he made the move from Russia to North America, earning a spot on the top pair of the Red Deer Rebels' roster in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. It was there in March of this past year that he sustained a "scary" knee injury, almost certainly sidelining him for the time being.

“I was scared and I felt like something (was) definitely wrong with my knee but after some time where I figured out, everyone figured out that it’s not that scary,” Alexeyev said.

Alexeyev rebounded quickly, rehabbing his injury with the Capitals' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.

“The injuries, it’s too bad, but players do get injured and that’s something that can’t be helped, Capitals assistant general manager, Ross Mahoney said. "But he had a really good first half of the season with the Red Deer and exceptional World Junior Tournament, the under-20 tournament.” 

Since then, Alexeyev was a standout at the Caps' Developmental Camp in June.

“He just looks like he’s at a different level than the rest of the kids both physically and ability to play," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s got a good skill level, he moves the puck well, he seems to have a good attitude a good work ethic, I’m excited to see him in training camp and see his progression here as the year goes on.

With the loss of Capitals' veteran defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, Alexeyev is focused on making the Caps' 2019-20 roster.

“Alex is a really intelligent player," Mahoney said. "I think he’s got great vision on the ice. He has that ability also to be very patient with the puck.” 

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