Andre Burakovsky is a special player with a rare talent for offense, but a brutal run of injuries have kept him from becoming a star.
|13.8||time on ice per game|
|52.4||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|56.1||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the season. A short description of each chart:
I was convinced, following the Caps’ elimination last year, that 2017-18 would be Burakovsky’s breakout year – the fabled breakoutkovsky. I was way wrong. Instead of getting a top-line right wing spot, Burakovsky remained on the third line with Lars Eller. And instead of turning his high shot volume into goals, Burakovsky’s shot-attempt rate dropped by 39 percent, his scoring chances by 61 percent, and his high-danger chances by 70 percent. That’s a disaster – a full nullification of all the traits that made him such a special player in his first three seasons.
But maybe that’s what two broken wrists in two years will do to you. In February 2017, Burakovsky broke his right hand blocking a shot from Brendan Smith. He missed more than a month of play. In October 2017, Burakovsky broke his left hand due to a hook from Ian McCoshen. He again missed more than a month of play. In April 2017, Burakovsky suffered an unspecified upper-body injury on a hit from Boone Jenner. He underwent “minor” surgery and missed just under a month of play. Before and after that last injury, Barry Trotz made Burakovsky an occasional scratch, citing confidence issues.
For all the talk about Burakovsky’s supposed mental weaknesses, I’ve got way more time for discussion about his hands’ weaknesses. Frankly, I don’t know what the hell we are supposed to make of Burakovsky’s seeing a sports psychologist in 2016 and again in 2018. Lots of people see mental-health professionals for lots of reasons, and I’m far more interested in how Andre’s hockey game is informed by, ya know, broken bones than any supposed lack of B.D.E.
When Burakovsky is a) healthy, and b) given the opportunity to score, then c) goals. Just a couple games back from his last injury, Burakovsky netted two goals to eliminate Tampa Bay. In the final game of the season, his line dominated play (13 shot attempts to 2) and Burakovsky got an assist on the Cup-winning goal. This isn’t a mirage; it’s an asset not yet fully exploited.
So, yes, terrible season, and despite the championship, Burakovsky is probably at an individual low point in his career, but there’s good reason not to despair. Bones and tendons will heal, Burakovsky will be back in the top nine next season, and then, finally, the breakoutkovsky will happen. Twenty goals, take it to the bank.
When you've still got to finish playing a hockey game but your jam comes on. pic.twitter.com/3doMtK0dDc
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 4, 2018
This is the obvious question: Can Andre come back from 18 months of relentless injuries that have stifled his development? How can Reirden support him?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen
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