- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2017

The Washington Capitals were without a familiar face when they took the ice for a morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex as they prepared to take on the Anaheim Ducks.

Andre Burakovsky, who exited Thursday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, will be out until at least mid-March with a hand injury, according to coach Barry Trotz. The injury will not require surgery.

“It’s part of the game,” Trotz said. “It’s part of the process, and we can’t control that. It’s [typical] to get hurt in this game. We’ve been very fortunate not to have a lot of injuries, so it’ll be a good test.”

Burakovsky’s injury marks the first major detriment the Capitals have had to deal with this season. According to Man-Games Lost, the Capitals have just 19 total man games lost to injury. To put in perspective of just how low of a total that number is, the second-least injured team this year, the St. Louis Blues, have 71 man games lost. The Detroit Red Wings have the most man games lost, with 350.

As a result of Burakovsky’s injury, Trotz said that forward Zach Sanford, who was recalled to the Capitals from Hershey on Thursday, will fill in for the vacant third line spot. Trotz also said that it is entirely possible that rookie forward Jakub Vrana sees some time with Burakovsky out of the lineup.

Burakovsky plays a role on the Capitals’ second power play unit. At Friday’s morning skate, center Lars Eller filled in for the role.

“I’m going to embrace that opportunity,” Eller said. “It’s a great opportunity for me. That’s icing not he cake. That’s where players want to be playing. That’s really fun stuff.”

Burakovsky normally lines up on along the half boards during the power play, but Trotz had Eller situated right in the middle of the slot. Normally, on the Capitals’ first power play unit, right-handed shot T.J. Oshie plays in the slot. His strong stick side allows him to gather one-time opportunities from passes behind the net from Marcus Johansson and along the half boards from Nicklas Backstrom. But because Eller is left-handed, that makes those passes a bit awkward.

Trotz said that’s not a concern with the second unit because they work a bit of a different system with their two separate teams.

“The second power play is a lot different from the first power play,” Trotz said. “It’s sort of similar traits, but it’s really a lot different. It works off [the left side] a little bit with Lars there. From a function standpoint, it’s better to have him there.”

The Capitals play the Anaheim Ducks Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

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