After losing 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday, Capitals’ head coach Todd Reirden is altering his lines — albeit subtly.
Andre Burakovsky will be back in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
It will be Burakovsky’s first game in nearly two weeks — a December 8 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
So, Capitals lines and D this morning:
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) December 21, 2018
Reirden slotted Burakovsky back on the third line alongside Lars Eller and Brett Connolly. Chandler Stephenson will also make his way back onto the fourth line with Nic Dowd and Devante Smith-Pelly. Travis Boyd and Dmitrij Jaskin will be the healthy scratches.
“I think if you find chemistry with some guys, it’s going to stick with those guys,” Burakovsky said about reuniting with both Eller and Connolly. “I like playing with Lars and Conno a lot so it’s going to be fun to go back in with those two tonight.”
“Lars is always a good two-way player, really strong on the puck and can do some individual stuff. And Conno is a really good shooter and I can bring some speed to the line,” Burakovsky continued. “I think we have all the tools to be successful.”
On the blueline, the defensive pairings will stay the same. Braden Holtby will start in net for his second-straight game.
Burakovsky getting a jersey is news. The Swedish forward missed four-straight games as a healthy scratch, and the Capitals are getting calls about the 23-year-old forward from other teams.
“Other players had taken more advantage of the opportunity than he had recently,” Reirden said days after Burakovsky’s first scratch. “For me, it’s a rewards/earned ice time situation where there’s a lot of competition.”
Burakovsky was also critical of his own play in the Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Coyotes on Thursday, December 6.
“I wasn’t really there today,” Burakovsky said. “I had a tough one. Puck was bouncing and got away from me all of the time. Obviously, I did a mistake on their first goal.”
Burakovksy is in the final year of his two-year, $3 million AAV contract, that many saw as a bridge deal for the forward to reach his full potential. However, Burakovsky’s play has continued to decline the past couple of months, and his future in Washington remains in question.
For now, Burakovsky trade speculation is on the hold, as the NHL entered its eight-day holiday roster freeze on Wednesday.
The NHL's eight-day Holiday Roster Freeze goes into effect tonight. Here are the rules governing that period, as spelled out in CBA Article 16.5(d): pic.twitter.com/dmLy6nEjXX
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 19, 2018
The Sabres have dealt with their own internal issues, as the team placed Patrick Berglund on unconditional waivers after the forward refused to report to practice. Berglund cleared and forfeited almost $5 million dollars of his remaining contract.
Aside from this messy divorce, the Sabres are off to their best start in years and sit in the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Divison.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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