He will go back in eventually. No I’m not talking about some convict who just got released from prison. I’m talking about Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky. The Austrian born Swedish winger has been a healthy scratch for the past three games. Burakovsky has been watching the games while the Capitals have been playing guys like Brett Connolly and rookie Jakub Vrana instead.
He will get back in and soon. He just needed to reset and watch the game. The 21 year old even said that to CSN Mid-Atlantic, “Sometimes when you’re not going like you want to, maybe you need a fresh restart,” Burakovsky said. “Start over, sit out and watch the game and try to find your way back.”
Burakovsky is just having a rough start. Having just 2 goals and 10 points in the 27 games he has played in. But look at last season and you’ll see some similarities.
In that same CSN Mid-Atlantic article it’s pointed out that Burakovsky had the same amount of goals in the same amount of games also leading to the young forward sitting out some games. “But then he got hot after (sitting out). So we’re hoping the same thing happens this year.” Coach Barry Trotz said.
You can go a little deeper if you want. During the 2015 half of the 2015-16 season Burakovsky had just 3 goals and 9 points, less points than he has now. Barry Trotz is right though, he started producing more in the second half of the season.
In January and February specifically Burakovsky had 21 points (10 goals) in 24 games. The Capitals could sure use that scoring touch from him right about now. Why? Aside from the obvious fact that it’s always nice to have more scoring the Capitals rank towards the bottom of the NHL in 5 on 5 scoring. They are better than just eight teams in 5v5 goals and six of those teams are currently outside of the playoffs.
To make things a little worse their division rivals are all pretty good at even and full strength scoring. The Rangers and Penguins rank number one and two respectively, the Flyers rank eighth and the Blue Jackets rank eleventh. The Capitals need more scoring and they need Burakovsky to get back into the lineup and contribute.
But where do you put him now? The Capitals have won six of their last seven, the lone defeat coming to the Montreal Canadiens and Carey Price who got pulled the previous night and was clearly wanting to correct his and their game. Winning six of your last seven it’s going to be hard to shake up your lineup. So where do you put Burakovsky?
Can you change the top two lines? Justin Williams has struggled for the majority of this season, you have put him on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and he suddenly has 5 goals in six games. Kuznetsov also hasn’t had the numbers he had last season but on the line with Ovechkin and Williams he recently had a six game point streak (all assists) registering 8 points.
The second line of Johansson, Backstrom and Oshie has been doing fine and contributing since Oshie’s return six games ago and I wouldn’t think you would want to drop any of those players in the lineup.
That really leaves only one line for Burakovsky and that is next to Lars Eller. Eller who has also been a very big scoring disappointment only having 2 goals and 4 points would have two threatening wingers in that instance. On the other side of that line would be Jakub Vrana who seemingly creates a ton of chances every game.
Those were the three lines in practice according to reports and I would be excited to see that 3rd line. I think if Burakovsky found his scoring touch it could make for three dangerous scoring lines.
The fourth line in my opinion should be Winnik-Beagle-Connolly. Wilson would be out except for certain games. That however is a story for a different time.
So where would you put Burakovsky? Do you change the top two lines that guided you to a six game win streak? Do you like the potential of a Burakovsky-Eller-Vrana line? What would your ideal lineup look like?
The Capitals have some tough lineup decisions to make and hopefully for them the players make it tougher because that would mean that you would like to move around the lineup but can’t because they are doing too well.
By CJ Paige