Caps hope latest trip to press box will help Burakovsky find his game

Caps forward Andre Burakovsky has been a healthy scratch in each of his last three games, which isn’t surprising if you look at his numbers and overall performance this season.

After scoring 17 goals in 2015-16, the 21-year-old has found the back of the net just twice in 27 games this season.

On Monday morning, head coach Barry Trotz decided it was in his player’s best interest to skate on a line during practice, instead of serving as an extra forward. Trotz noticed a difference.

“What I liked there is that he was sniping today,” the coach said, per the Washington Post. “Instead of just getting his shot on net, every time he was shooting, he was trying to score. That’s what he does. Getting his shot off quickly, his release is really good. I have him playing the left side. I think probably the right side might help him a little more naturally, get that shot locked and loaded. But we’ve got a lot of right wingers right now, so he may have to start [on the left], and we’ll see if we can get him over there.”

Slow starts aren’t exactly new when it comes to Burakosky. Last year, he came out of the gate the same way he did this year. If you rewind exactly one year to the day, the Caps forward had two goals in 28 contests.

It wasn’t until Jan. 5 that he scored his third of the year. Later that month, he caught fire, as he scored at least one goal in five straight (six total) between Jan. 19 and Feb. 6.

“Actually, you look at his points last year at the same pace, how many did he have? He had seven,” added Trotz. “He’s traditionally been a slow starter for us, so we’ve got to figure that out for next year.”

Maybe we’ll see him take off, again, soon.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.