Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky has zero points in six postseason games and has looked like a shell of himself from last season.
Over the last two years, Burakovsky has broken both of his hands. After suffering an upper-body injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, the Swedish winger missed ten postseason games. He returned in the Eastern Conference Final, but has not found much success.
Burakovsky was a healthy scratch for Game Five, but will return for Game Six – the Caps’ first elimination game of the 2018 playoffs.
“I’m feeling 100 percent trust from the coaches,” Burakovsky said.
But Burakovsky is not feeling that same trust and confidence in himself.
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) May 21, 2018
Burakovsky’s comments start at 27:06 of the above video.
“I’m playing. I’m feeling good,” Burakovsky said when asked if he was 100 percent healthy. “It’s just, I think, when first couple games when I got back, everything felt kind of strange. When you feel that way that’s when you have to start simplifying your game, not try to do those things when you have confidence. You can’t accomplish those things that you want to do when you’re coming back after 10 games and jump into the Conference Final. It’s not going to be as easy as you think. I can’t fool myself anymore… and think I could play like I did before. Obviously it didn’t work out.”
Burakovsky, unprompted, then went on to get very personal about his mental struggles during the playoffs and in his childhood. The 23-year-old admitted he’s very hard on himself and focuses too much on bad or failed plays – such as Game Four.
“The last home game or whatever I kind of got a little pissed at myself when I didn’t execute the plays I wanted to do,” Burakovsky said. “Obviously when you get frustrated with yourself that’s when you put yourself in a bad position. I think I just need to stay calm here and just forget about the last shift and focus on the next one.”
The Swedish forward added that he’s hiring a sport psychologist, a move that Burakovsky’s past and present teammates, such as Mike Green and Braden Holtby, have done.
“I’ve always been really hard on myself and I’m probably always going to be,” Burakovsky said. “Ever since I was a kid, I had high expectations of myself and I just think I just have to get a rid of that a little bit. Not looking in the past, looking in the future. There’s always that next shift coming up. It’s kind of my problem. I think when I’m doing something bad, I’m thinking about it for a long time and it just sits in my head. That’s something I have to work on over the summer. I did hire a sport psychologist and he’s supposed to be really good. I’m going to work a lot with him over the summer and try to get a rid of that because it’s holding me back.”
While Burakovsky struggles at times being happy and confident with himself, he believes the team can win Game Six and force a Game Seven on Wednesday in Tampa.
“I think this whole series we’ve been really dangerous. Just look at last game,” Burakovsky said. “Obviously they came out really hard, but in the second and third period, we control the game the whole time. Vasilevskiy stood on his head a couple times, made some big saves. But we just need to come out like we did in the second and third of last game in Tampa. I’m not worried at all. I know what this team can do, what we’ve accomplished before. We just going to go out and play our game and trust ourself, trust our teammates and just trust the team overall, and it’ll be fine.”
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