Andre Burakovsky’s Road to Recovery


Andre Burakovsky entered the 2017-18 season with great expectations. The 22-year old left winger was entering his fourth season in the NHL and was primed to step into a bigger role on the Capitals with the departures of some key players over the offseason. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start. He recorded an assist in the second and third games this season and then finally tallied a goal in his eighth game as the Capitals defeated the Detroit Red Wings. Then, the unthinkable happened. 

After finally hitting his stride, Burakovsky faced adversity the next night. During the Capitals’ game against the Florida Panthers, his left hand was hooked in the final minutes. Burakovsky was in pain and fans would later find out that he broke his left thumb. He didn’t practice that following Monday and was placed on injured reserve. He received surgery the next day and the Capitals announced that he would miss six-to-eight weeks. This wasn’t the first time Burakovsky injured himself, as he missed 15 games last season with a fractured hand injury back in February.

Burakovsky was sporting a cast on his left hand in the early part of November and towards the tail-end of the month, he started skating again. One of the biggest challenges facing Burakovsky in his rehab was regaining his stickhandling as he was re-adjusting to his surgically-repaired left thumb.

After Burakovsky started skating, he began working out with Capitals strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish as he was put through a recovery boot camp so-to-speak. The workouts typically came early in the morning before the Capitals conducted their practices and morning skates. His hand seemed better as the week went along. Barry Trotz noted on Friday that the two shook hands.

“We shook hands the other day, so it’s coming,” said Trotz.

Following Saturday’s morning skate, Burakovsky and Nemish, along with a couple of skaters and a goaltender, came out to continue their workout. This one was their best yet, as Burakovsky was skating with both a stick and a puck, flying down the ice. He caught some passes and even got some shots up on a goaltender.

During Monday’s morning skate, Burakovsky began practicing with the team in a regular contact jersey but didn’t take part in line rushes. Tuesday marked his first time fully participating with the team. He was paired on the second-line with Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov, taking turns rotating with Alex Chiasson.

Here we have Burakovsky on 3-on-2 rushes.

Full rink drills.

A close-up of Burakovsky dishing the puck off to a teammate.

Burakovsky then returned to his usual spot on the second power play unit.

Burakovsky and Tom Wilson, the #CapsRoomies connection. The “bros” seem happy to be back on the ice together.

Burakovsky on the other side of the rink working on his shots.

Towards the very end of practice, Burakovsky remained on the ice with assistant coach Blaine Forsythe. He went up against Travis Boyd as they worked on puck control along the boards.

Then it was Burakovsky’s turn to play defense. He stole the puck successfully from Boyd and buried it home.

From the looks of things, Burakovsky looks like he picked up right where he left off from that contest in Detroit in which he scored. He talked to the media after practice.

Saw (the X-Ray) yesterday, everything looks fine. The X-Ray is looking exactly the way we want it to and the (left-thumb) bone has been healing properly so it’s a good sign,” said Burakovsky. “Yesterday was a morning skate. That practice was more for the guys who were going to play (Monday night against the Sharks). I didn’t want to get too involved and get their ice time dropped to get ready for the game. (Today) I practiced and got more involved and felt good.”

Burakovsky was then asked if he would be ready to play Wednesday night against the Blackhawks if Trotz gave him the thumbs up.

“It’s tough to say. I felt good in practice today. I would probably be fine with it but right now it’s just about getting the timing back,” Burakovsky added.

“Andre is very close. Slim possibility that he would be in (tomorrow night) but I think he’s getting close. Another practice or two and he should be ready to go,” Trotz told the media.

Burakovsky’s recovery has been well ahead of schedule. Even if he doesn’t play tomorrow night, he should be back in the lineup in the next week or so. Either the end of this week or the early part of next week. We’ll have to wait and see.

By Michael Marzzacco

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