So Andre Burakovsky‘s had a year. At this time in 2017, I considered Burakovsky to be the future top-line right wing, partner to Alex Ovechkin, and a marquee scorer. But then TJ Oshie got re-signed, Tom Wilson got Oshie’s slot, and Burakovsky got injured. After suffering his third significant injury in eighteen months, Burakovsky has returned to the postseason lineup so that he could contribute… not much.
In five games and 57 minutes, Burakovsky has 4 shots on goal, zero assists, zero goals. He’s been a complete non-factor.
Burakovsky’s virtue as a player, I think, is his ability to generate individual offense. He’s been great at transitioning to offense, gaining the offensive zone with possession, and then getting a quick shot off to start the attack. But that’s fallen off this season.
Each group above is a different measure of offense, and each group has noticeably diminished from last season except for close-up, high-danger chances. I suspect those high-danger chances mostly come from situations when Burakovsky isn’t the one starting the attack, which is happening more often lately. In short, he’s doing less of the thing he does best, and it’s pretty obvious why.
In October 2017, Burakovsky broke his left hand due to a hook from Ian McCoshen. He missed more than a month of play.
All three injuries were to physical core of Burakovsky’s offense, his hands and upper-body. Meanwhile, Burakovsky’s individual offense rates have tumbled. Below is a color-coded table of Burakovsky’s attempts per hour, grouped in five-game rolling averages and color-coded to indicate when he’s above league average for forwards (green) or below (red).
There have been a few distinct lulls. Burakovsky had trouble in December and January before he missed some time to illness. His late-season play (with Backstrom and Oshie) was also pretty bad, but his play since returning from the Jenner hit has been even worse. Burakovsky hasn’t had a high-danger chance in the postseason, and he’s had only three scoring chances – all in his first game. Currently slotted with Chandler Stephenson and Brett Connolly, Burakovsky and the third line are controlling play just fine (attempts are 30 to 26 and goals are 2 to 1), but he isn’t producing anywhere near our expectations for him.
If this series hinges on secondary scoring, Burakovsky might not be the best player to depend on – at least not right now. While I’m confident that a restful summer will restore Burakovsky to the player he should be, that’s a concern for later. The Caps need scoring immediately, and it’s probably gonna have to come from elsewhere.
Jakub Vrana, you’re up.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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