Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky will miss the remainder of Washington’s first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coach Barry Trotz said Friday that Burakovsky, who was injured early in Game 2 on a hit by Boone Jenner, will require “minor” surgery for the undisclosed “upper-body” injury that prevented him from traveling with the team for Games 3 and 4 in Columbus. The recovery from that procedure will extend beyond at least April 25th, the date of a potential Game 7 between the two teams. The series is tied at two games apiece.
Trotz clarified that Burakovsky is not necessarily out for the entire postseason.
“That’s why I said a minor surgery,” Trotz said.
Before Burakovsky got hurt last week, he was playing on a second line with center Nicklas Backstrom and right wing T.J. Oshie, and rookie winger Chandler Stephenson seems to have replaced him in that role. Burakovsky finished the regular season with three goals and three assists in his last eight games, playing well down the stretch after his season got off to a miserable start. He missed 20 games earlier in the year with a broken thumb. In what was a disappointing fourth NHL season, he finished with 12 goals and 13 assists in 56 games.
This will mark Burakovsky’s second surgery of this season, and it’s his third significant injury in the past two years.
Stephenson has played more than 16 minutes the past three games, and his 17:02 ice time in Thursday night’s 4-1 win marked a career-high for him in regulation. Trotz has also used rookie Jakub Vrana beside Backstrom and Oshie, but his deployments seemed limited to offensive zone starts. With Washington protecting the lead in Game 4, Trotz seemed to trust Stephenson’s two-way play more than Vrana, who skated less than seven minutes for the game. Trotz also said Stephenson’s “give-and-go game” is complementary to Backstrom and Oshie.
“He’s an intelligent player,” Trotz said of Stephenson. “If you talk to the real top-end guys, he has the ability to think like a top-end guy in terms of playing like a very intelligent player. He skates extremely well, and he’s got some strength to his game. … He’s turning into a well-rounded player for us.”
Said Stephenson: “It’s quite the surreal feeling playing with those guys. It’s something you only dream of. Growing up watching them and then finally playing with them, it’s quite the special feeling. They make the game very easy with their skillset and who they are, so all I’ve got to do is make sure I move my feet and play my game, and they’ll find me and make it easy.”
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