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End of season review: Marcus Johansson

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End of season review: Marcus Johansson

Throughout the coming weeks, CSNWashington.com Capitals Insider Chuck Gormley will evaluate the 2014-15 performance of each player on the Caps roster. One breakdown will occur every day in alphabetical order. Today: Marcus Johansson

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

Age: 24 [turns 25 Oct. 6]

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 207

Games: 82

Goals:20

Assists: 27

Points: 47

Penalty minutes: 10

Plus-Minus: Plus-6

Average Ice Time: 16:28

Playoff games: 14

Goals: 1

Assists: 3

Points: 4

Penalty minutes: 2

Plus-Minus: Minus-2

Average Ice Time: 17:38

Contract Status: RFA [2014-15 salary: $2.175 million; cap hit: $2 million]

Strengths: Although he came into the NHL as a center, Johansson has spent his past three seasons with the Caps playing left and right wing. This season he spent the majority of the season [roughly 316 minutes] on the left side with center Evgeny Kuznetsov and right wing Troy Brouwer, but also spent significant time [roughly 196 minutes] on the right side with center Nicklas Backstrom and left wing Alex Ovechkin. With encouragement from Barry Trotz, Johansson increased his shot total from 107 last season to 138 this season and saw his goal totals jump from 8 to 20. Johansson also scored 17 even-strength goals, compared to just two last season and improved his plus-minus from minus-21 to plus-6 . And he did all of this while averaging 64 fewer seconds of ice time per game. Much of that ice time came on the power play [239:40], where Johansson finished fourth on the club in ice time behind Ovechkin, Backstrom and Brouwer, and fourth in power-play assists [12] behind Backstrom [30], Mike Green [16] and John Carlson [13].

Room for improvement: Johansson possesses the kind of speed, quickness and defensive awareness that coaches love in their lineup, but he still lacks the physicality and consistency that is needed in the post-season. After netting a goal on his first shot in the Caps’ playoff opener against the Islanders, Johansson was stopped 17 straight times by Jaro Halak and Henrik Lundqvist and again left Caps fans and management wanting more from him.

Memorable Moment: Even with his spike in goal scoring, Johansson's greatest strength is his passing ability and in Game 7 against the Rangers Johansson made a subtle yet beautiful feed to Alex Ovechkin to give the Caps an early 1-0 lead. After a faceoff win by Backstrom, Johansson peeked over his left shoulder and found Ovechkin with a head of steam in the high slot. He flicked a backhand pass onto the tape of Ovechkin, who beat Lundqvist off the top of his glove for a 1-0 lead. It was Johansson’s third assist of the playoffs but it also proved to be the Caps’ last offensive output of the season.

Quotable: “I really felt and really thought we were going all the way this year. We were doing all the right things and we were tough to beat. If we keep building on that and keep improving on that part of our game, where we’re tough to play against and tough to beat, it’s not going to take long until we get the Cup to Washington.” – Johansson on breakup day

 2015-16 Expectations: This will be an interesting summer for the Caps and Johansson. After the season, Caps general manager Brian MacLellan said he wants to bring Johansson back next season, adding, “He’s still developing. We think we can get more out of him going forward.” At 24, Johansson still has three seasons of restricted free agency, so the Caps could try to keep him at a reasonable cap hit with a two-year contract offer. If that happens, don’t be surprised if an arbitrator has to come in to establish Johansson’s worth. It will also be interesting to see if Johansson is offered to other NHL teams in the Caps’ search for a top-line right wing.

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Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

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USA TODAY Sports

Braden Holtby puts loss to Tampa solely on his own shoulders

The mood in the Capitals locker room following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday was one of frustration. Forty minutes of strong play from Washington amounted to nothing because of a disastrous opening first period in which the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

No one in the locker room was more frustrated than Braden Holtby.

"Obviously you don't want to go down three," he told reporters after the game. "That's on no one else but me. The third goal, especially the third, fourth goal, that's the difference in the game. I thought we played a really strong game against a really good team. We should have got a better result and that's on me why we didn't."

Tampa scored three goals in the first off of only eight shots. For the game, the Lightning managed to pierce Holtby four times off of only 19 shots.

RELATED: WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE LIGHTNING

Frustration seemed to boil over on the fourth goal when a normally stoic Holtby was visibly upset after allowing Nikita Kucherov to beat him on a breakaway in a play similar to what we saw in the All-Star Game.

See for yourself:

"The key to getting better is learning from your mistakes and obviously I didn't do that," Holtby said. "I was just trying to play it patient. I wasn't trying to cheat towards that move and he came at it a different way. That's on me for not recognizing it. That's not a goal I can give up in that situation after our team battled the way they did, especially in the third."

The frustration Holtby feels likely is not the result of one goal, but the culmination of a recent slump that continues to plague the Vezina winner.

Holtby has lost four straight starts and has given up at least four goals in each of those games.

While Holtby was quick to take the blame for Tuesday's loss, head coach Barry Trotz was quick to defend his netminder.

"No one takes the loss," he said. "We all take a loss. I take a loss, the group takes a loss and Braden's part of the group. ... He's had a little tough stretch. It's no different than, we've got guys that haven't scored in 15, 20 games. It's no different than a player."

The challenge now is overcoming that slump.

For a slumping skater, Trotz could try different line combinations or play someone in different situations over the course of the game. Getting a starting goalie out of a slump, however, is more difficult. Most of the work has to be done in practice with the hope that it will carry over into the next game.

"You analyze how the goals are going in, what you're doing differently," Holtby said. "There's always some stuff that you can't control and stuff that you can and it's focusing on those contrallables that you can make a difference at. Like the first goal in Chicago, the last two goals here, those are goals that I could and should stop. You get to practice the next day and you focus on that and work hard until you figure it out so you don't do it again."

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Part of the problem in Washington is that team defense is the Caps' biggest weakness. For most of the season, and even in years past, Holtby has made up for much of the team's mistakes on the backend. Now that he is slumping those mistakes become much more glaring and costly.

"The goaltenders in this league are erasers," Trotz said.

Lately, Holtby has not been able to erase those mistakes.

But the team has already moved to address the defense. Brian MacLellan added a puck-moving defenseman in Michal Kempny to help the team get the puck out of the defensive zone more quickly. Waiving Taylor Chorney could also signify another move may be coming before Monday's trade deadline.

As for Trotz, even during the slump, he made clear his confidence in Holtby has not wavered.

"He has been a rock since the day I've been here the last four years and he's been an elite goaltender and I look at him that way."

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

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USA Today Sports

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Kouka scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States with a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shotoout, while Francouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.

Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't beat Francouz.

RELATED: OVECHKIN HAS LITTLE DESIRE TO WATCH 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS