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Marcus Johansson is 'only going to get better'

Morning Roundup

In addition to echoing praise of Marcus Johansson given by Coach Bruce Boudreau and GM George McPhee, a few of the Capitals' veteran players expressed a particular sentiment about their now 20-year-old teammate who earned a spot on the opening night roster.

"He looks like little mini Backie when he's out there skating," said Jason Chimera, who played on a line with Johansson and Eric Fehr in practice Tuesday. "He's the same kind of player, with the same skating style, same passing style and he's obviously very smart. He's only going to get better as the season goes on."

Since Johansson arrived for rookie camp, many of the veterans watched to see if the young Swede could live up to the praise he received from the team's top brass before he had even played a game in North America. He did.

More interesting than his speed or strong skating ability alone, though, was how Johansson's defensive instincts were readily apparent in each of the five preseason games he played.

It was that "defensive upside," Boudreau said, that helped Johansson stick in Washington instead of Mathieu Perreault. Johansson didn't have too much penalty-killing experience in the Swedish Elite League, but he played a fair amount of short-handed minutes for the Capitals in the preseason and took to the special-teams unit quickly.

"You look at the PK when he was there during the preseason and he didn't look out of place at all," Chimera said. "It's great and rare to see someone like that, such a young kid, adapt to an NHL power play so quickly. That's something that's hard to teach."

As for his main weakness since his arrival in Washington, Johansson has turned to some of the veteran players for pointers on how to take draws in North America. Nicklas Backstrom went through a similar adjustment early on in his career, and is still working on improving his own faceoff ability.

"I was the worst player in the league," said Backstrom, exaggerating slightly. His rookie year he finished 74th among the 86 players in the league who took the majority of faceoffs, winning 469 of 874. "In Sweden, faceoffs are not that serious there. Here you have to know more of what the players do, you have to be stronger but that's something we both have to work on."

IN THE MINORS
Tim Leone has more from the trio of bubble players, Andrew Gordon, Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault, who were sent to Hershey yesterday.

Michael Nylander just wants to play hockey.

AROUND THE WEB
Can anyone believe it's been five years since Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby began their NHL careers and the debate began?

SB Nation's six players to watch during the Capitals season.

ESPN shares their all-underrated, all-overrated NHL teams.

By Katie Carrera  | October 6, 2010; 10:01 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
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Next: Will Eric Fehr have another breakout season?

Comments

I'm please to be sporting a MaJo autograph on my Backstrom jersey.

Hope there aren't too many complaints for the decisions to keep up one player who's more defensively oriented (and with huge upside potential) and another player who brings some extra grit.

No matter what, I'm looking forward to Saturday night and seeing a great season/post-season from the most exciting team in hockey. That sientiment often gets lost around here, and I was as disappointed as anyone last year, but we're fortunate with what we have and there's brighter days to come.

Posted by: Justafan | October 6, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Chimera is the player of quote ... ok. Can friday please just get here, cannot wait

Posted by: flee001 | October 6, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

@ jakopz
He got hurt what Friday's game right? We dont play til Friday...he just needs to slap some Neosporin on there and it'll be fine come Friday. Stitches take 5-7 days to heal and if not, you super glue them and wrap them tight. Problem solved. Backs will play Friday, take it to the bank. :)

@ThePat
THIS GUY is going for sure. Been waiting for the home opener since April. Time to drop the puck, Rock the Red, and grumble about the LAME LAME LAME goal scoring song. Eliot needs to redo that contest.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 6, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@SAOTI

They dont need to redo the contest, they just need to get rid of the song. Play something normal that is actually good.

Posted by: ThePat | October 6, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

What is this new goal song?

Posted by: eorr | October 6, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Not to nitpick...but this doesn't sound right...Backstrom has never won 54% of his faceoffs. I think that'd be close to the top of the league, not bottom.

"His rookie year he finished 74th among the 86 players in the league who took the majority of faceoffs, winning 469 of 874."

Posted by: Yoshietree | October 6, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

@ThePat
Agreed, but I dont mind having a semi-original goal song. Maybe a good mix/splicing of some real songs. All I know is, when that current song starts playing it gets quiet faster. It has the adverse effect than it was intended to have. I used to stand and cheer and the even hum along with the tune, now I stand cheer, wave my towel...then forced to sit with that feeling of sadness as if you were stood up on a date when that song plays. It sucks the life out of the crowd. It's a Succubus I tell you.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 6, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@eorr

Eliot in the Morning had a contest (during the season last year or in the off season before last year) to come up with a original song that is to be played when we score a goal. They posted the submissions and people voted. The horrid song "Rock the Red" that plays every time we score now, was the "winner". Makes me want to punch babies in disgust...or people wearing Crosby jerserys.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 6, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I don't think I have heard this song yet. I'll have to look it up. I don't listen to Eliot anymore because he is a monumental hack and I can't stand that stupid cackling laugh he does. The last goal song that stood out to me on the television was Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis. They played it for several games towards the end of last season. Too bad we stole that from the Blackhawks.

Posted by: eorr | October 6, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

a. gordon has only like another hour to survive waivers correct?

Posted by: _stevo | October 6, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

@steveo

hopefully he does. With the number of players that went on waivers yesterday I think he has a better chance than I originally thought.

Posted by: ThePat | October 6, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@eorr - I actually googled "Chelsea Dagger" apparently it's also huge in soccer/football matches in Scotland and Ireland. Great tune, perfect for the purpose.

@SAOTI - alarmed to hear that "Rock the Red" is so lame.

Wow, A. Gordon sounded a little bitter. I'm hoping MP doesn't take a look at Aucoin and say to himself, "that's me in 10 years." (But it may be true. Still, Coiner pulls down half a mil...)

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 6, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@jakopz - certainly appreciate the info. Supposedly he's out there practicing today so I'm gonna guess (hope) he'll be ok. I agree with others that he is truly the hub to this whole team.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 6, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Talk about overrated / underrated - with a couple exceptions, faceoffs the single most overrated stat in hockey. Give me a guy who can play, any day.

Posted by: govtimbo | October 6, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, Mark French doesn't exactly sugar-coat things, does he? I guess everyone knows where they stand with that guy.

Posted by: zmega | October 6, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Varly did not finish practice again today but he made it further than yesterday. Hope Neuvy is ready to play 55 games.

Posted by: ThePat | October 6, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Cut AG some slack, this kid works super hard and would be playing on a number of other NHL teams. Its got to be hard to know that as your playing in the AHL, being called a "good call-up guy". Give him a couple days and he will be back to his old self, and HOPEFULLY playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder proving that he should be with the big club

Posted by: ecmPC09 | October 6, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

New thread...

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 6, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@ecm - I agree, I liked AG from what I saw this summer, unfortunately [well, for him] this org has a glut of talented young forwards right now.

But to your larger point, I've played with guys who played in the ECHL and they were all really, really good hockey players. It is a good freaking league.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | October 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

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