Marcus Johansson is unlikely to play in the team’s back-to-back games this weekend, but Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said he’s “hopeful” the third-line center will travel with the team on its three-game road trip to Nashville, Minnesota and Dallas next week.
Trotz said he’d be surprised if Johansson practiced on Friday, and with the team playing matinee games on Saturday and Sunday, there won’t be any opportunities for Johansson to skate with them then. Trotz said Johansson could practice with the team on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, when Washington will be on the road.
Johansson suffered an upper-body injury about 12 minutes into the Capitals’ last game before the all-star break, a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He didn’t return to the game, and Trotz has said Johansson is “day-to-day.” He hasn’t been practicing with the team, but Johansson has been skating before practices, seen doing some light shooting and passing.
Trotz moved Johansson from second-line left wing to third-line center on Jan. 2, and in the eight games he played at center, he scored eight points. Through 44 games, he had 13 goals and 17 assists. With Johansson out, Mike Richards has been centering the third line of Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson.
Trotz said his expectations for the re-jiggered third line with Richards have been tempered by that trio only being together for two games.
“I would like it to have the standard or get back to the standard of when JoJo was there,” Trotz said. “But he’s not. … I talked to Chimmer today about the line, and there’s an adjustment period. They’re going to have to adjust to playing with Richie versus JoJo. JoJo will probably make a few more plays through the middle of the ice using his speed, and I think Richie is more of a grinder.
“They’ve just got to adjust their game, but Richie’s has pretty good skills, and he’s got really good hand skills. He can make plays, and you’re going to start with the puck a lot with him on the ice. You’ve got to think about different things that you can do that make that line successful. I think they’ll get that going.”