Andre Burakovsky is going to be sidelined until mid-to-late March with a hand injury, Caps Coach Barry Trotz announced Friday.
Trotz said Burakovsky’s hand did not require surgery, though the coach declined to reveal the precise nature of the injury.
“It’s part of the game,” Trotz said.
“You can’t control that. People get hurt in this game. We’ve been very fortunate not to have a lot of injuries. So it’ll be a good test.”
The loss is a blow for the Capitals’ surging third line and for Burakovsky, who put up nine goals and 10 assists in the 25 games since Trotz scratched him for ineffectiveness in mid-December.
“For Andre, obviously he had started really ramping it up,” Trotz said.
“When he comes back he’s going to be fresh. He’s going to be excited. I know he’ll get back to playing the way he can.”
With Burakovsky out, the immediate plan is to insert Zach Sanford into the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Ducks, which is Washington's last game before its five-day bye week. Depending on how that game goes, it’s also possible the Caps will want to give Jakub Vrana an opportunity as Burakovsky’s long term replacement.
Sanford was already with the Caps, having been recalled on Tuesday morning as an insurance policy with a couple of other forwards already nursing nagging ailments.
“We’re going to let Zach have that first crack at it tomorrow and we’ll go from there,” Trotz said. “We haven’t really made any long term decisions.”
Sanford added: “No one likes to see a teammate or anyone get hurt, but I think this will be big for me to hopefully step in, keep playing well and help the team keep winning.”
Burakovsky’s spot on the power play will be filled by Lars Eller, who saw some duty there in Montreal. During Friday’s practice, Eller lined up in the slot on the second unit.
“It’s too bad for Andre,” Eller said.
“We’re going to miss him but it opens the door for me. I’m going to embrace that opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for me. That’s where all players want to be. That’s the really fun stuff.”
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