The 2017-18 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been a bit of a roller coaster for Andre Burakovsky.
After being one of the Washington Capitals’ top forwards during the regular season (when healthy) he missed most of the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs due to injury.
When he returned for the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, he struggled mightily, failed to record a point in each of the first four games of the season, saw his ice-time get greatly reduced, and just generally not play well when he was on the ice.
That earned him a press box view for Game 5 of the series. At the time, coach Barry Trotz said “it is a now business,” while also expressing confidence that Burakovsky would eventually bounce back when he was given another opportunity. It did not take long for that to happen.
After drawing back into the lineup Burakovsky had a breakout game in Game 7 of the ECF by scoring a pair of goals in the Capitals’ series-clinching win. He has followed that up with at least one point in each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, including a pair of assists in the Capitals’ 3-2 Game 2 win on Wednesday night.
He is still not getting a ton of ice-time, at least compared to his regular season minutes, but he is definitely making the most out of what he is getting.
Over the past three games he has a total of five points, is one of the Capitals’ best possession players, while the team has a 4-2 goals advantage when he is on the ice. No player on the team has been on the ice for more goals for during 5-on-5 play during that stretch.
Burakovsky is an important player for the Capitals. He is young (still only 22 years old), obviously talented, and was consistently playing a top-six role for the team during the regular season, and playing it very well.
There is also the fact that if leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov has to miss any additional time (he is currently listed as being “day-to-day” with an upper-body injury after exiting Game 2 i the first period) the Capitals are going to need to find some additional offense throughout their lineup. Lars Eller has done a great job stepping up for the Capitals this postseason when needed, but he is probably not someone you count on to consistently be an impact player offensively.
Burakovsky has that potential, so it is probably a great development for the Capitals that he seems to be starting to find his way again offensively at just the right time. They may very well need him to make an impact if they are going to win this series.
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub