Every year there are players who breakout in the playoffs and then follow that up with strong regular seasons. This season we watched players like Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Joe Pavelski, Ville Leino amongst others elevate their game. This daily snippet will point out that player in an attempt to find some sleepers for next year prior to the end of the playoffs.
For the second time in two games rookie Marcus Johansson found a way to get noticed.
Amidst superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alexander Semin, the Swedish-born forward often flies under the radar mainly due to his growing pains over the course of the season. It could also have to do with the fact that he is just one of eleven first-round selections by the Caps.
However, he quickly made the New York Rangers look foolish in the first round of the NHL Playoffs by scoring two goals in the Caps epic 4-3 overtime win on Wednesday, followed by setting up Semin for the game-sealing third goal in today’s 3-1 victory. Furthermore, Johansson did this mostly centering Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera, neither of which should be confused with the more talented players on the team.
If you watched the Caps down the stretch, it became clear he was special.
As the season wound down, Johansson picked up his game with four goals and nine points in 15 March games, helping the Caps surge into the post-season. He often centered Ovechkin and gained the trust of the coaching staff as he developed into the highly-skilled system. This surge continues as the team steamrolls into the second round with a home-ice advantage.
Entering next season, Johansson should be seen as a big-time sleeper, especially in formats with three or more center positions. We saw just how fast Nicklas Backstrom improved in the system surrounded by snipers. The same thing could very well happen again.
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