Skip to main content

Johansson suspension puts hole in Capitals lineup

by Dan Rosen

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz doesn't like the fact forward Marcus Johansson will be unavailable for two games because of a suspension, but he said the key is to accept the League's decision, move on, and have a next-man-up mentality.

Johansson was suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head on New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey in Washington's 4-1 win at Barclays Center on Tuesday. He won't be available for the Capitals game against the New York Rangers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden or at home Sunday against the Ottawa Senators.

Johansson has 26 points in 39 games this season. He has been playing center on the third line with Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson for the past three games.

"Obviously I am [disappointed]," Trotz said. "I thought it was a pretty legal hit. I understand the situation, but the decision is made and we move on. The League looks at everything, so whatever they decide, we just deal with it."

Trotz said Michael Latta will move up to take Johansson's spot as the center on the third line between Chimera and Wilson. Brooks Laich will center the fourth line with Paul Carey, who was recalled from Hershey on Friday, slotting in as the left wing and Stanislav Galiev on the right wing.

Washington's top two lines will remain intact -- center Nicklas Backstrom between left wing Alex Ovechkin and right wing T.J. Oshie, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov between left wing Andre Burakovsky and right wing Justin Williams.

Latta has six points in 27 games this season.

"It's a great opportunity for [Latta]," Trotz said. "It's a great challenge for him. Players want opportunity. For me, [Latta] moving up, this is a real good statement game for him."

Meanwhile, the Rangers still were dealing with the news of their trade Friday, when they sent forward Emerson Etem to the Vancouver Canucks for Nicklas Jensen and a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Etem was expected to be sent to Hartford of the AHL on a conditioning assignment prior to being traded. He had three points, all assists, and averaged 11:04 of ice time in 19 games with the Rangers this season.

The Rangers acquired Etem from the Anaheim Ducks on June 27.

"He didn't have the best training camp," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "If you go strictly on performance, maybe after training camp he's not part of our 22 [man roster], but because our scouts and our management all felt that there was some good potential there, we gave him a good run. Some people might say fair or unfair, but I would say he got a fair look, a fair amount of ice time for the performance he was putting out. For whatever reason, it just didn't work."

Vigneault was the Canucks' coach when they selected Jensen in the 2011 draft (No. 29). Rangers assistant coach Scott Arniel and Darryl Williams have previous experience coaching Jensen, who has six points in 24 career NHL games.

Jensen has 12 points in 27 games with the Utica Comets of the AHL this season.

"It's a lot like Emerson, a lot of scouts have seen a lot of potential," Vigneault said of Jensen. "Can players put it all together? That's the question that time tells you. Some players figure it out and some other players don't figure it out."

The Rangers' lineup against Washington again will feature right wing Jayson Megna, who had a goal and an assist Tuesday, when he made his season debut in New York's 5-2 win against the Dallas Stars. He is expected to play on a line with center Derek Stepan and left wing Rick Nash.

Chris Kreider remains out of the Rangers' lineup with a hand injury.


View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.