ARLINGTON, Va. – Marcus Johansson is expected to be a healthy scratch Saturday night for the third time this season when the Washington Capitals play host to the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center.
The Capitals’ first-round selection in the 2009 NHL Draft (No. 24) has one goal and a team-worst minus-7 rating in nine games this season.
“I think his confidence might be one of the problems with his play,” said Capitals coach Adam Oates, who had high hopes for Johansson heading into the season.
Johansson spent the entire six-day training camp on Washington’s No. 1 line and began the season playing with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
By the second game of the season though, a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan.22, Johansson was benched in the third period for all but one 50-second shift. He was later demoted to the fourth line and eventually made a healthy scratch for back-to-back games in late January.
Since returning to the lineup on Jan. 31, Johansson has again been used primarily as a top-six forward while seeing time on both specials teams units. Despite the opportunities, Johansson’s struggles have continued both with and without the puck. The 22-year-old’s four shots on goal are fewest on the team among players who have dressed for at least six games.
“We need more execution [from Johansson] and we didn’t get enough [in a 5-2 Thursday loss] in Pittsburgh,” Oates said.
With Johansson scratched, Mathieu Perreault is set to return to the lineup after sitting as a healthy scratch himself for five straight games.