Monday, February 29, 2016

Marcus Johansson’s success at playing center

Playing with line mates Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson, Marcus Johansson’s success at playing center on the third line is a sign of a good fit. The player fans love to hate is turning in a tremendous season, particularly, after finding his stride in between the 35-year old speedster, Chimera, and the aggressive style of Tom Wilson. That line is producing. Chimera has speed and toughness, Wilson has grit, they both win board battles, and Johansson has speed to set up plays and make his own.

The interesting part of Johansson’s season happened in November after the New York Rangers game. He got suspended for two games for an illegal hit on defenseman Thomas Hickey. It was not intentional on his part, but the suspension still surprised for a player not known for toughness.

Johansson never seemed like the right fit playing opposite of Alex Ovechkin with Nicklas Backstrom. The two of them needed someone like T.J. Oshie to be the battler and energy guy on their line and that is not the type of player Johansson is. He, on the other hand, needed some board battlers and speed players so he could make plays instead of killing scoring chances when Ovie dished to him. Coach Barry Trotz continues to mix up the lines when they get stale, so these lines change.

Johansson moved to third line center when Jay Beagle went on long-term injured reserve to have wrist surgery at the end of December. The third line gelled, giving Trotz lots of offensive power in the top 9 forward and the ability to easily roll four lines.

Johansson’s played with more energy all season. He gets Trotz’s system now and is flourishing in it more. He is playing the game the right way, too, by hustling, forechecking, going to the net, setting up screens, and getting garbage goals, too. It will be great for the Caps if he keeps it up during the playoffs. Johansson’s 4 points in 14 games or 2 points in 7 games during 2012-2013 is not enough. Maybe keeping him as the third line center with Chimera and Wilson will fix that.

Let’s go Caps!

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