The Washington Times - January 27, 2013, 01:23PM

Marcus Johansson is a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said. Mathieu Perreault, who had a seat in the press box Friday night, is back in replacing Johansson.

Johansson has a team-worst minus-5 rating and no points.


“I just think he’s been a little bit unlucky lately and give him a chance to take a step back and watch a game and re-evaluate,” Oates said. “He’s been trying. It’s not that. He’s been a little bit unlucky and caught out there and a little bit of bad luck. But I just want to give him a breather because sometimes when it’s not going your way and you’re a young kid, it can snowball.

Johansson was given the first crack at playing on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin and then was demoted to the fourth line for the better part of the past two games.

In addition to having a different perspective watching a game instead of playing in it, Oates wants Johansson to take a look at his game.

“It’s the same for every single guy and it always has been: You’ve got to evaluate yourself, listen to what the coach says, take what you want out of it,” the coach said. “You’re supposed to play the way that that system is and what that coach wants.”

Perreault last week complained about his ice time, saying he wants more of a chance to show what he could do. Oates started him against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, and Perreault took a penalty on his first shift.

But that’s not what knocked Perreault out of the lineup against the New Jersey Devils.

“It wasn’t so much his play at home [against Montreal] the other night, he played pretty good,” Oates said. “It’s just a little bit sometimes a numbers game.”

On defense, the numbers game is there, but Oates will stick with Jeff Schultz and John Erskine on Sunday against the Sabres. That means Roman Hamrlik and Tom Poti will be healthy scratches.

Oates seeing so much improvement team-wide against New Jersey was why he decided not to make changes on his blue line.

“Both Ersk and Schultzy contributed a lot, and that’s why we’re going back with them,” Oates said.

Thomas Vanek (three goals, six assists in four games) will not play for the Sabres with a muscle strain. Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal against Michal Neuvirth.

“Neuvy played great the other night so he’s got it again,” Oates said.

Caps lines and pairings:

Alex Ovechkin - Jay Beagle - Joey Crabb

Wojtek Wolski - Nicklas Backstrom - Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera - Mike Ribeiro - Joel Ward

Matt Hendricks - Mathieu Perreault - Eric Fehr

Karl Alzner - Mike Green

John Erskine - John Carlson

Jeff Schultz - Tomas Kundratek