Photo: Washington Capitals
There was a time in mid-December when nothing seemed to be going right for Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky. After scoring two goals in the Caps’ first game of the season, the 21-year old Swede had been stuck in a long, confidence-draining drought. After being benched for three games, the young forward has proven his confidence is higher than ever.
Since returning to action on December 21, Burakovsky has scored seven goals and added five assists for 12 points in 16 games played (Third most goals on the team over the period). The majority of his goals have come since the beginning of the New Year, and of those seven, FIVE of them have been the first of the game.
Five of Burakovsky’s last seven goals have been the first of the game. In addition, the #Caps have scored first in 10 straight games.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) January 22, 2017
Burakovsky has scored the first goal of the game for four straight games. The Caps have scored first in 10 straight games, and with their recent run of success, that isn’t surprising.
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) January 22, 2017
While that’s impressive, Burakovsky’s surge in production is a good sign for both him and the Caps. While slumps can lower confidence and motivation in all players, it is particularly hard for young players; even though Burakovsky is in his third full NHL season, he’s still just 21.
Drafted by the Capitals 23rd overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Burakovsky showed strong promise last season, as he finished the season with 17 goals and 38 points. Nowhere near the prime of his career, Burakovsky is seen as a cornerstone player for the Caps, and with the potential losses of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams in unrestricted free agency next summer, Burakovsky (a pending restricted free agent) will need to prove he can take on a bigger workload if the Caps are unable to re-sign either of the two veteran forwards, and to earn himself a nice new deal.
Burakovsky currently has nine goals, 13 assists, and 22 points in 43 games played, putting him on pace for 17 goals, 24 assists, and a career-high 41 points. That would be a three-point increase from his high of 38 last season. If Burakovsky can continue piling up goals and points, his confidence will continue to grow, and come playoff time, he could be a key factor in the Caps’ success.
By Michael Fleetwood