Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored 14 goals after New Years last season in 45 games, good for nearly 30 goals at an 82 game pace. He did this all without being a regular on the power play and playing just over 14 minutes a game. Now he’s likely got get a renewed chance at racking up points on the man-advantage. Last season only one of his 17 goals came on the power play. He finished second in even-strength goals, behind only 50-goal scorer and Rocket Richard winner Alex Ovechkin.
Burakovsky, 21, started the season on the power play, but lost his spot to Jason Chimera, who had four PP goals and five PP assists, after 14 games due a poor start, which included time in the press box. In Burakovsky’s first 32 games of the 2015-16 campaign, he had just two goals and six assists.
“In the beginning you just want to do everything so properly and the right way,” Burakovsky said of first full season in the NHL. “[I] was trying to bring everything full speed. Sometimes you just slow down the game and think a little bit more than you act. That was kinda what I did at the end [of last season] there. When I had the puck I felt more comfortable. I could hold it a little bit more and find an open lane for my teammates. I think it worked out pretty good for me.”
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz and the team’s top players may still be in Toronto seeking a championship in the World Cup of Hockey, but the rest of the team will soon begin their quest for a different championship, one that comes with an unsanitary silver chalice. On Friday, the team kicks off its training camp for the upcoming NHL campaign. The team announced the full schedule and roster on Wednesday morning.
While players have been skating informally for weeks, the real action is imminent. On Thursday, players will undergo their pre-season physicals and testing. On Friday, the 2016-17 Caps will take the ice for the first time before attending their annual sit-down with reporters.
The initial roster lists 65 players which includes 38 forwards, 19 defensemen, and eight goaltenders. The roster must be trimmed to 23 players by October 11.
Saturday, the Capitals almost completed an improbable comeback against the second-best team in the league, the Dallas Stars. To put it succinctly: the third period was good times for the Caps. Washington scored three consecutive goals and looked to be the better team. But before that, the Caps were miserable.
In the game’s first two periods, the Stars jumped out to a 4-0 lead, outshooting the Capitals 25 to 11. That left some players frustrated. And angry.
My favorite meltdown moment came from Tom Wilson.
Reirden and his crazy eyes.
Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Todd Reirden was not unemployed long. After the Pens hired the WHL’s Mike Johnston as their new coach early on Wednesday, Reirden was fired. A mere eight hours later, Reirden was employed once again, this time by new Capitals coach Barry Trotz. Reirden will take over parts of both Calle Johansson and Blaine Forsythe’s roles with the team.
So who is he? First and foremost: a former player that was in my old video games. Long since retired, Reirden’s been an assistant coach since 2008. Working with the Pens last season, Reirden worked closely with Pittsburgh’s defensemen (ranked 7th in goals in 2013-14) and the power play unit, which — according to the Capitals PR — scored the most power-play goals (164) and posted the highest power-play percentage (22.3%) in the NHL since 2011. That’s exciting.
Pittsburgh has been an elite team for a long, long time with a slew of offensive superstars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. It’ll be interesting to see how much Reirden’s systems and coaching impact the Capitals.
But baby, I’m ready for the ride.
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