It’s no secret. Andre Burakovsky has been a different player so far this season in Colorado. But why? Even though the “cow is out of the barn”, so to speak, the human nature in each of us wonders what he is doing differently. Why is it (finally) working for Andre in Colorado? Let’s take a quick look at what’s going on.
“He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again, might say he found a key for every door.”
According to Avalanche teammates, Burakovsky has been directed to shoot the puck more. In an interview with the Athletic ($$$), it was stated that teammate Nathan McKinnon studied Andre’s stats over the summer, and told Burakovsky he needed to shoot the puck more. Like, a lot more than what he had done in the past.
“If I shoot 200 more pucks then I am going to have more goals and that’s something I want to do,” Burakovsky said. “I listened to him and I think that is pretty reasonable. If I shoot more, the puck is going to be in more and that is something I’ve been working on and trying to do more.”
“I’m trying to get to the interior and I’m trying to find ice to be able to shoot a little bit more,” Burakovsky said. “I think overall compared to the past couple of seasons, I’ve been shooting the puck a little bit more. I think it’s been paying off.”
Colorado’s bench boss Jared Bednar is a little more specific. “I think that our system is a little bit different. We’ve had more success trying to get to the interior, shoot pucks and get to the net, and he is a guy who can help us with that because he’s got a great release and he uses his legs to skate and find open ice and get pucks in traffic to the cage.”
First, comparing portions of any seasons, in this case the first 23 games of the last two seasons, is always an ‘apples to oranges’ comparison. Line mates, strength of schedule, caliber of opponents, playing situations, heck, even altitude are all different and thus, omit valuable context. However, for the purpose of this exercise, we will acknowledge the differences up front, and soldier on.
At initial glance, McKinnon’s advice appears to be sage. He is indeed shooting a lot more, but there is more to it than that. Let’s take a look at Burakovsky’s basic metrics for the start of the last two seasons.
Colorado – 2019
After 23 games with the Colorado Avalanche this season Burakovsky has 11 goals and 10 assists on 47 shots for a shooting percentage of 23.4%. He’s averaging 15:46 of ice time per game.
Washington – 2018
After the first 23 games with the Capitals last season (also occurring on November 25), Burakovsky had three goals and three assists on 28 shots for a shooting percentage of 10.7%. He averaged 11:23 of ice time per game.
In summary, here is a side-by-side of his basic stats after 23 games for the last two seasons.
Obviously the increase in points stands out, as does his increase in shots and shifts per game, average time on ice and shooting percentage. All going somewhat hand-in-hand.
Burakovsky is indeed shooting more per game, but also seeing 4:23 more ice time and 4.7 more shifts per game. His shooting percentage is more than double the rate of last season with the Capitals, a 12.7% increase.
Burakovsky’s high-danger chances are up, which is a component of the high shooting percentage. In addition, according to the Athletic, 60% of Burakovsky’s shots are from the slot.
So far, 27 percent of Burakovsky’s goals have come from the slot with another 18 percent being scored at the net front. It comes out to an overall total of 45 percent of Burakovsky’s goals being derived from high traffic areas.
However, it’s very likely his production rate will slow down as the season progresses. He finished the regular season at 12% last year with the Capitals.
So far this season Burakovsky has been on the ice for 260 ‘shots for’ and 276 ‘shots against’ for a CF48.50%. After 23 games last season, Burakovsky was on the ice for 233 ‘shots for’ and 252 ‘shots against’ for a CF48.04%. Not much of a difference here.
According to the Athletic, Burakovsky was averaging a little more than 14 minutes over the team’s first 10 games when the Avalanche could yield a full complement of players. Injuries have hit the Avalanche, and he’s now receiving 17 minutes per contest yet has averaged more than 18 minutes over the last five games. That raises his 23-game average TOI from 14 minutes to 15:46.
”you know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly”
Statistically, we are really seeing nothing new from Burakovsky, other than an inflated shooting percentage, that may/may not be related to finding better opportunities in the slot. Burakovsky has also avoided the mental roadblocks so far, that he regularly encountered with Washington.
Burakovsky told Ryan Clark of the Athletic, “Just knowing you have the coach’s support, I feel like I didn’t really have that in the past,” Burakovsky said. “I talked to the coach in Washington a lot about getting more ice time and it never really happened. It was tough for them, too. They had a really, really good team and tried to mix it up. I was just kind of hoping for a little bit more of a chance and actually get a couple games in the top six and see what I could do.“
“It’s tough to play a couple minutes and people expect you to produce. It doesn’t work like that. It’s been great so far.”
We’ve talked about it before, but sometimes it’s just a simple change of scenery that stokes the productive coals.
The bottom line is Burakovsky appears to be thriving, and for that, as a hockey fan and loyalist to any/all players who brought a Stanley Cup to Washington, I am grateful and happy to see. He deserves some spotlight. Soak it in, Andre.
”It keeps changing fast, and it don’t last for long”.
By Jon Sorensen