The day after playing just 50 seconds in the third period of the Washington Capitals’ loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Marcus Johansson responded to criticism from Adam Oates with self-criticism.
“I think I got on my heels a little bit yesterday. I don’t know if it’s because of the new systems or what it is playing the left side, I don’t know,” Johansson said. “But I didn’t play good yesterday and I need to get better. That’s the main thing: I didn’t play good enough.”
Johansson, who started the season on the top line alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, might not be there when the Caps host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Asked if he’ll tinker with the line combinations in light of Johansson’s struggles, Oates didn’t want to reveal his plan.
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” the Caps’ coach said. “We’re talking about it.”
Johansson wasn’t on the top line for much of the Jets game because he wasn’t playing.
“I didn’t play good, and I didn’t expect to play much more than that,” the 22-year-old said. “I didn’t play good and the guys that play good is the guys that should play.”
Matt Hendricks got a few turns in Johansson’s spot on the top line against Winnipeg. Johansson’s struggles were not lost on him.
“It’s frustrating and that’s something you’ve got to take into the next game and the next day and work harder and work more,” he said. “I felt I had a good skate today and feel like I can just get better from here.”
Oates wants to see more out of the young Swede moving forward.
“We all have to play a system, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses and his skating ability is his strength and I want to see him skate more and help bring the rest of the team down the ice,” Oates said. “He should be relentless going north for us. Hopefully the system is gonna allow him to do that and it will help his cause.”
As for what Johansson needs to work on, the answer was painfully simple.
“Everything a little better,” he said. “There’s always stuff to get better and I think yesterday I didn’t have a good day at all. There was a lot of things I could’ve done better.”