Rookies Burakovsky, O’Brien making impact for Capitals


Oct 9, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky (65) celebrates with Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) after scoring his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

New head coach Barry Trotz has the Washington Capitals off to a fast start this season, despite finishing their road trip out west with a 1-2 record.

The Caps are tied for second in the Metropolitan Division with the New Jersey Devils with 10 points each, just two points behind the first place New York Islanders.

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To go along with the play of Alexander Ovechkin (5 goals, 1 assist), Nicklas Backstrom (2 goals, 5 assists) and Mike Green (3 goals, 5 assists), Trotz & Co. have benefited from the play of two rookies, Andre Burakovsky and Liam O’Brien.

Burakovsky has been top contributor to the Capitals early success this season. He sits in a tie with Backstrom at seven points this season (second on the team behind Green) with two goals and five assists. His +/- rating of +4 is tied with fellow rookie O’Brien for second best on the team (Green and Nate Schmidt are tied for first with a +6 rating).

In fact, the native Swede became the first Capitals rookie to begin his career with six points in six games since Ovechkin did it in 2005. that sixth point came as an assist to Green that gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead against Edmonton before ultimately falling 3-2.

What makes Burakovsky’s start even more eye-opening is that the rookie has had to adjust quickly to a new position. A natural forward, Burakovsky was moved to the center position during the Capitals development camp, a decision that would give the second line another option. So far, the transition is working perfectly.

But Burakovsky isn’t the only rookie earning high praise.

Oct 26, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Washington Capitals forward Liam O

Left winger Liam O’Brien, who went undrafted, recorded his first NHL goal in last night’s 4-2 loss in Vancouver.

The 20-year-old also has an assist this season and is tied for the team lead with Brooks Orpik in penalty minutes with 14. That added toughness has earned O’Brien respect from the veterans, especially after he earned a five-minute major for dropping the gloves against veteran Matt Hendricks during the Caps’ 3-2 loss in Edmonton.

Earlier in the season against San Jose, O’Brien got face-to-face with the Sharks John Scott before being separated. His next move, sticking his tongue out at Scott.

While the usual Big Three for the Capitals (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green) are all producing at high rates to start the season, the Capitals will need this added production from its two rookies to continue if they want to remain atop a talented Metropolitan Division.