After a lagging start during the first three months of the season, where he posted only 10 points in his first 37 game Andre Burakovsky has transformed into an essential cog in the Capitals victory wheel. Earning 17 points in is his last 14 games and earning points in eight consecutive games it is clear that he has made some adjustments and changes to his game that are landing him back on top.
While it’s not clear what changed for Burakovsky, he attributes his early performance to a lack of confidence, “I’m not really used to playing on the fourth line”, and the style of play, requires grinding and fore-checking. Burakovsky, who is a finesse player, found the more physical play challenging and foreign, “that’s not really my game and I lost some confidence”. However, he attributes his move up to the second line and his line mates, with his renewed success, “They [Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams] knew I was struggling and they helped me out”.
Since joining the second line, Burakovsky has earned a point in eight consecutive games from January 17 to February 9 and logged the ninth longest point streak in the NHL this season, and the longest point streak by a Capitals player since teammate Nicklas Backstrom recorded a nine-game point streak in the 2012-13 season.
Demonstrating his renewed sense of confidence on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings, he logged the Capitals first goal late in the second period finding the back of the net after a sharp slapshot from Dmitry Orlov, and helped to set up Kuznetsov’s game-winner in the third period. As the Capitals enter the final push of the regular season Burakovsky’s offensive presence adds a layer of depth to the Capitals’ offensive lines that they will need to carry them far into the post-season.
The Capitals drafted Burakovsky as a first round choice (23rd overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft and he joined the roster during the 2014-2015 season. He joined an elite rank of Capitals players by scoring his first NHL goal during his NHL debut on October 9, 2014 against the Montreal Canadiens. Burakovsky is the son of former NHL player Robert Burakovsky, who was drafted 217th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1985 NHL draft. Robert, renowned for his scoring abilities, played his entire 23-game NHL career for the Ottawa Senators.
Andre Burakovsky returns to the Capitals lineup Thursday night when the Capitals take on the division rival New York Islanders in Brooklyn.
By Stephanie Judge