Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky is expected to be in Washington's lineup Friday night against the New York Rangers, his first game since he broke his left thumb in late October. Burakovsky had surgery and has missed the past 20 games. “That's the ...and more »
Andre Burakovsky is expected to return Friday. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)
Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky is expected to be in Washington’s lineup Friday night against the New York Rangers, his first game since he broke his left thumb in late October. Burakovsky had surgery and has missed the past 20 games.
“That’s the word on the street,” Burakovsky said. “Talked to [Coach Barry Trotz], and I’m cleared to go. He told me I can play next game. I was hoping maybe the game before, but I needed a couple more practices in. I haven’t been skating with pucks or shooting for a while. I mean, my game timing, the first practice was really off. When we did the two-on-ones, I was far behind and went offside once. So, that wasn’t great.
“The last few practices here, it’s been really good. I’ve been feeling really good, skating good — stickhandling, shooting really well. I told him I feel like I’m ready, and he said I could play Friday. I’m excited. It’s going to be fun.”
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To activate Burakovsky off long-term injured reserve, the Capitals cleared salary-cap and roster space by reassigning forward Travis Boyd to the American Hockey League and then placing forward Tyler Graovac on waivers with the intent of sending him to the AHL, if he clears. Washington waived forward Nathan Walker last week, and he was claimed by the Edmonton Oilers. In his first season with the Capitals, Graovac played just five games, never recording a point, though he missed some time with a shoulder injury.
Forward T.J. Oshie is considered day to day with an undisclosed upper-body injury; he missed Wednesday’s game. He didn’t practice Thursday, so he isn’t expected to play Friday, meaning the Capitals will be without an extra healthy forward.
Alex Chiasson will continue playing in Oshie’s spot on the right wing of second-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky will make his return on the third line with center Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. That trio had success last season, until Burakovsky injured his right hand and missed 15 games. Burakovsky finished the season with 12 goals and 23 assists in 64 games.
“Just in the practices here today, I mean, you can see the chemistry between us three,” Burakovsky said. “It’s still there, so I’m excited to get back in the game with those two. I kind of miss playing with them a little bit. I haven’t been with them for a while, so it’s going to be good to get back with them and get this going.”
Said Trotz: “I think there’s a little bit of all the elements. They’ve got some speed. They’ve got a little bit of size. They’ve got a shooter. They’ve got a playmaker. They’ve got some weight. They have the elements to be a good line, and they worked. … If [Burakovsky] comes out and skates and does the right things that we expect him to do, then he can have an impact on the game. But he’s a good young player who has a lot of assets that can help us win hockey games.”
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