Johansson: 'I'm excited…it's gonna be fun.'
Newly acquired forward will play right wing on second line during debut against Sharksby Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com
BOSTON - Marcus Johansson is up for a little bit of everything.
The versatile 28-year-old - acquired by the Bruins from New Jersey at the trade deadline - has played all three forward positions over the course of his nine-year career. And during his initial phone call with Bruce Cassidy on Monday night, Johansson made sure that his new coach knew he'd be open to whatever is best for the Bruins.
"He stated that he's comfortable at any spot, he wants to help us win and is excited to be here," said Cassidy. "That was encouraging because you never know what a player's mindset is gonna be…I'm sure we'll move him around in different spots, maybe not all in one game, but we'll see what the best fit is."
That flexibility was a key reason why general manager Don Sweeney viewed Johansson as a fit for Boston's forward group, saying on Monday that the left-shot Swede brings scoring touch to a top nine that needed a boost in its secondary scoring.
"Good skill, decent size, good playmaker, good power-play guy around the goal line, speed. Been a good player in the league," said Cassidy. "The upgrades to our forward group, we talked about the need for some secondary scoring, we've seen more of it lately before the deadline. Hopefully with him and Charlie [Coyle], they add more after the deadline."
Video: New Bruins set to make debuts against Sharks
Johansson, who will make his Bruins debut on Tuesday night against the Sharks, scored a career-high 24 goals with Washington in 2016-17 and has 12 through 48 games this season, including six (to go along with six assists) over his last 13 games.
"I've been healthy mostly," Johansson said when asked what has spurred on his success of late. "I had some rough times in Jersey being healthy, but lately I feel like I've gotten the chance to play for a pretty long stretch without anything bothering me and it kind of feels like I've found my way back to my own game. I'm comfortable with my game and feel like it is where it needs to be."
The Bruins are hoping that offensive success translates into his new spot alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk on Boston's second line. Johansson will start out on Krejci's right side, a spot in which Cassidy has been searching for come consistency.
"That's gonna be fun," said Johansson. "He's a great player, he's been since I've been in the league. He's one of those players that you always look at. He can make amazing plays and he's one of those 200-foot players that I think anyone would want to play with. I'm looking forward to that."
While Johansson will start off skating with Krejci and DeBrusk, Cassidy left open the possibility that Johansson could switch over to his natural left wing at some point to play with Coyle on the Bruins' third line.
"We've got to be careful because we've got to find out who has chemistry with Krech on the right side," said Cassidy. "Without [David Pastrnak] being in the lineup, it's easier to move a piece around, but more difficult now to sort of lock into what we want. I just think that Marcus might end up taking some shifts with Charlie on the left wing so that we're working with pairs.
"But we're gonna wait on that because we're gonna see if he fits with Krech. If he does and it looks great, problem solved there to a certain extent."
Video: Johansson discusses first day with Bruins
Another problem solved? Johansson's history with new teammate Brad Marchand.
Marchand was suspended five games for an elbow to Johansson's head last January, which caused Johansson to miss nearly 30 games with a concussion.
But Johansson said on Tuesday morning that it was "water under the bridge" and that Marchand was one of the first people to call and welcome him to Boston.
"It's hockey, it's a tough game," said Johansson. "He called me yesterday and we spoke for a bit. He apologized and he was great. I just said that it's the past, it happens a lot. It's just fun to be here and it's fun to be his teammate. I think he's one of the best players in the league, so it's fun to be on this side of it now.
"I think that was a great gesture by him. Just shows that he's a really good guy and that it proves what everyone's been saying about him."
Johansson, who played previously with John Moore (New Jersey) and Jaroslav Halak (Washington), also relayed his excitement to join a group in the thick of the playoff race.
"I think right since the call I got that I was traded, the guys have been great," said Johansson. "I got a lot of texts and phone calls and feel very welcome right away and this seems like a great organization. It's obviously a great hockey team, so I'm excited to be here.
"I'm excited, I'll tell you that much. It's gonna be fun. You play to win games and you play to get a chance to win in the playoffs and I've gotten that opportunity now and I'm pretty excited about it."
Video: Cassidy discusses addition of Johansson
Cassidy said that Kevan Miller (upper-body) will not play on Tuesday against the Sharks. Moore will sub in and play with Matt Grzelcyk on Boston's third pairing.
"Some discomfort there, so we're gonna try to manage that, get Johnny More back in," said Cassidy. "I don't believe that it will be long-term. Hopefully have something better for you tomorrow."
Joakim Nordstrom will be the third-line left wing with Coyle and David Backes against San Jose, though Cassidy said that Peter Cehlarik (assigned to Providence on Monday) would likely get another look in that spot.
"Some of it is roster management at this time of year," said Cassidy. "I like Peter's game - didn't like his turnover in the first period the other night in St. Louis. We addressed it, liked the way he responded a lot. Thought he played really well after that.
"I don't think it's the last of that line, but I don't want to comment on what we may or may not do tomorrow, let's get through tonight."
Halak will start in goal.