Nicklas Backstrom’s 400th Career Assist (GIFs)

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Nicklas Backstrom finally got number 400. His 400th career assist came late in the second period, a quick response to Ryan Johansen’s goal just 33 seconds earlier.

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Wardo’s face.

Four minutes into the second period, the Capitals faced what seemed like an insurmountable three-goal deficit. Instead of giving up, they calmly chipped away at the Stars’ lead. Eric Fehr responded one minute after Jason Spezza’s goal ,then Andre Burakovsky tallied a sweet power-play goal ten minutes later to bring the Capitals within one.

It was a sick snipe.

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Photo: Brad Mills

After being infinity-scratched and forbidden to go to the World Junior Championship, head coach Barry Trotz put Andre Burakovsky back in his natural position on Sunday. He even gave the 19-year-old rookie a comfy spot on the first line next to Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. The move paid off. Burakovsky scored the first game-winning goal of his career in Washington’s 4-3 win over Florida.

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Eric Fehr is God: Caps Blank Pens 3-0

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Yep.

I spent my Saturday at Nationals Park — well, until NHL PR literally chased me out. The stadium is nearly in its full party dress with fake domes, banners, and a sheet of ice with logos on.

But alas, there were still more games on the calendar before New Year’s Day. Tonight the Caps visited Pittsburgh. A bunch of the Penguins have mumps. Crosby had mumps. Mumps makes your face big. Okay, we got that out of the way.

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Photo: @Ovi8

Do Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Orlov realize Burakovksy isn’t– like– Russian? What is going on here? I have so many questions. I just hope they feed him.

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Barry Trotz’s Weapon: Ice Time

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

On Saturday night, Nate Schmidt and Andre Burakovsky sat out as the Capitals faced the Devils in Newark. Tom Wilson, the first line right wing, was also benched for most of second period. Barry Trotz’s weapon is ice time, and he uses it.

For Schmidt, it was his first scratch of the season, coming on the heels of excellent play alongside Mike Green throughout the year. The game before, Schmidt had misplayed Blue Jackets forward Michael Chaput, who scored a game-tying goal late in the game.

“Sometimes you have to reset players when they’re not going very well,” Trotz said the benchings. “You have to give them a little jolt.”

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The drama continues. Hours after the Capitals announced that they had sent Andre Burakovsky to AHL Hershey, the Swedish Hockey Federation held a phone interview in which they accused the NHL and the Capitals of “a breach of contract.” It was first reported by Hans Abrahamsson of the Swedish sports website Aftonbladet.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Friday morning, the Washington Capitals sent Andre Burakovsky to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. The demotion comes on the heels of the Caps not allowing Burakovsky to play in the World Junior Championship, an opportunity that the Burracuda privately stated he wanted.

The re-assignment ends two weeks of scratches for one of the NHL’s best prospects, which had been a shining example of how not to develop a young player (don’t get me started on 65 and 92 playing on the fourth line). Today, that changes.

Burakovsky will get huge minutes in Hershey. He’ll be able to work on system play while skating in a physical league. He’ll be shadowed by and defended by some of the best players in the American league. This will be good for his development.

The WJC decision still confounds and troubles me, but hey, #GMBM.

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Here’s a photo of Andre Burakovsky not playing hockey. (Photo: @alex_prewitt)

Scratched for the last three games, Caps rookie center Andre Burakovsky seemed like the perfect candidate to play in the World Junior Championship and regain his confidence. Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg added “Andre has clearly stated to us that he wants to participate in the tournament.”

Well, hold up. TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted on Thursday night that the Caps don’t plan to let Burakovsy attend the tournament. The Caps themselves say no decision has been made yet.

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Photo: Jeff Roberson

Caps rookie Andre Burakovsky was scratched for the first time in his young career on Saturday night. On Monday, Burakovsky skated with the team’s scratches during practice. After averaging a point per game in opening weeks of the season, the dynamic 19-year-old center seems to have hit a wall.

Now it appears the Capitals, who have a ton of veteran depth at forward, are considering letting Burakovsky leave the team in mid-December to play in the 2015 World Junior Championship held in Montreal and Toronto– at least according to Team Sweden head coach Rikard Gronborg.

After Team Sweden announced their preliminary WJC roster, which included an unconfirmed Burakovsky, Gronborg held a press conference at the Swedish Hockey Federation in Stockholm. It aired live on swehockey.se.

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