Capitals assistant Blaine Forsythe touts Marcus Johansson’s power-play impact
ARLINGTON, Va. — Marcus Johansson comes into play Saturday as one of five NHL forwards to record at least 11 minutes of power-play ice time without recording a shot.
The Capitals have sought out the 32-year-old Johansson to be an integral part of their power play unit, which has come alive with five goals in their last three games. They don’t rely on him to provide many points; Johansson is yet to score a power-play goal for Washington since the team acquired him at the trade deadline last season. Still, he took to the ice with the Capitals’ best power-play unit for most games at the start of the 2022-23 campaign.
Assistant coach Blaine Forsythe, who oversees the power play, took the place of under time head coach Peter Laviolette at Saturday morning’s press conference and spoke about what Johansson brings to special teams.
“The most important thing for Marcus is his starter is one of the best players, I feel like getting the puck in the zone and really understanding what the forecheck is going to do, where the zones have to be found and opened and once we enter the zone to get us where we want to be,” Forsythe said. “The more clean entries we get, the more time we spend in the zone, so that’s important. “
Johansson showed how a clean entry can translate into a quick attack in Thursday’s defeat to the Ottawa Senators. Skating with a two-man advantage, Johansson carried the puck cleanly into the offensive zone and dodged the pressure along the boards before setting up winger TJ Oshie for an open shot that he drilled home.
“The thing about Marcus is he knows the job well,” Forsythe said. “He was level with the ground when we started and I think he has the ability to not only make plays from that position on the goal line, but he also gets to the net well. So if the puck is delivered to the net, he’s in a position to get a rebound or at least keep the puck active with the recovery and keep us in the zone.
Leading the team with three power-play assists, Johansson was a playmaker even though he didn’t fire any shots on his end. According Natural Stat Tipits expected goal percentage (xGF%) – a stat that determines whether a team is expected to outplay its opponent when a player is on the ice – is 93% in power-play situations, the team’s highest for players who have seen at least two minutes of ice time with the power play.
Overall, the Capitals’ power play was one of their biggest bright spots last week after they scored zero in each of their first nine chances to start the season. Washington will look to continue its strong special teams on Saturday against the Kings, who rank 22nd in the NHL with a 75.9% penalty kill rate.
“I think we made some adjustments,” Forsythe said of the power play improvement. “We talked a little more about getting the puck in that end zone. We felt, the first few games, we got looks, they were just on the perimeter. So obviously Stromer gives a little different dimension than Kuzy, he plays a little tighter and like I said we really tried to focus on getting the puck in that scoring area . We have done a good job so far, we have to continue tonight.