Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images
After being benched for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Andre Burakovsky returned to the lineup for Game 6 and was a difference-maker in the decisive game 7 against Tampa Bay. His play was solid, his head was in the game, and he looked confident on the ice, ultimately scoring two goals in the final game of the series.
Andre Burakovsky has been benched before, following low-points in his brief career. And more often than not, he’s responded to the scratches by raising his game and making a statement. Burakovsky did just that in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Burakovsky showed confidence in attacking veteran Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, causing a turnover, gathering the puck, steadying the shot and firing far side for the Capitals second goal of the game.
The Capitals caught the Lightning in a line change, and credit Burakovsky for realizing this. John Carlson makes a great outlet pass off the wall to Burakovsky, who read the pass before it happened, immediately turned and headed up ice. Burakovsky read the pass off the boards and finished five-hole on Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.
After a down week in which Burakovsky stated he would be working with a Sports Psychologist this summer to improve his confidence and self-talk, Burakovsky responded in a big way in Game 7.
Remember, Burakovsky had a “minor surgery” in the last couple of weeks, and missed earlier playoff games due to an “upper body injury”. If we had to guess, he was possibly suffering from a dislocated shoulder of some degree, but that’s just a guess. Regardless, he’s on the mend.
The Capitals will certainly need Burakovsky playing at this level in the final round against high-flying Vegas. The series gets underway Monday night in Las Vegas. Puck drop is just after 8:00 PM.
By Jon Sorensen