- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 6, 2016

To kick off the Washington Capitals’ season, Andre Burakovsky scored two goals, hinting at the tantalizing possibility of a breakout third year for the 21-year-old forward. But in the 14 games since, Burakovsky has gone ice cold: zero goals on 39 shots.

The lack of production has forced a coaching adjustment from Barry Trotz. Entrusted as a second line player for the better part of the season, Burakovsky has dropped down to the third line.

“He knows that he needs to get his game going a little bit,” Trotz said. “He’s a young player, he has to work through all that. Game 1, he was probably our star of the game. But it’s been pretty dry. So he’s got to figure that out.”

What’s frustrating for Burakovsky is that he feels like he’s doing the right things with the puck on his stick. He said he feels comfortable and that he is playing well.

“I think I’ve been creating chances,” Burakovsky said. “I’ve been shooting, I’ve been giving good passes and all that. It just don’t want to go in.”

This isn’t the first time Burakovsky has had difficulties scoring. Last season, he strung together 25 games without a single goal. During that stretch, he managed just three assists. During this most recent drought, Burakovsky has at least managed eight assists. He recognizes that there is a positive this season in comparison to last season’s difficulties.

“I remember, at this point last year, I didn’t really have any confidence in myself. I didn’t believe in myself at all,” Burakovsky said. “And I do [now]. I’m feeling good with the puck. I’m creating, I’m skating, I’m trying to do what I’m good at.”

“I think he’s got to trust his instincts,” Trotz said. “With Andre, he gets in his own head a little bit, and he doesn’t need to. He’s just got to trust his instincts.

Burakovsky said overhauling his game isn’t an option. Instead, he’s focused on playing what he knows is the right way to play.

“The only thing I can change is, maybe go a little harder to the net,” Burakovsky said. “Stay in front of the net, battle a little bit more in front of the net. Do all those grind things in front of the net, but the rest is there.”

After Tuesday’s morning skate, Burakovsky stayed on the ice. Many of his teammates had been in the locker room, out of their pads and into the showers. Burakovsky remained on the ice, getting a little bit more work in.

“You can make a lot of excuses, or you can put your nose to the grindstone and get working and try to figure that out on your own,” Trotz said. “I’m glad he stayed out there and worked on stuff.”

Burakovsky isn’t the only player going through a difficult time. Linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov, for example, has just two goals in his last 21 games. It’s just how the NHL works.

“Sometimes, everything goes against you,” Burakovsky said. “It’s just how it is. It’s a reality. Every game can’t be the way you want it to be. Then every game would be easy, right?”


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