NEW YORK - In his six NHL seasons with the Capitals, Marcus Johansson has never recorded more than 10 penalty minutes in a single season. On Friday night he was given a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey.
Johansson said Thursday night he did not expect to be suspended and Caps coach Barry Trotz said he saw no malice in Johansson’s attempt to check Hickey in the chest.
But Johansson came up high on the hit and will miss this weekend’s game against the Rangers on Saturday in New York and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night at Verizon Center. It's the first time in his career he's been suspended.
The Caps are also without center Zach Sill, who will serve the second game of his two-game suspension on Saturday. Michael Latta is expected to slide into Johansson’s spot as a third-line center, while Herhsey Bears callup Paul Carey is expected to fill Latta’s spot at fourth-line center.
“You find out about your team,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s next man up. We’ve had Brooks Orpik and John Carlson (lower body injuries) out for a while and we haven’t really talked about it. Get it done and try to win the hockey game, and it won’t be any different with (Jay Beagle) out or if something happens with JoJo. Next guy up, get it done.”
Caps right wing Tom Wilson said he and Jason Chimera had gotten into a nice groove with Johansson the past few games, but is confident the Caps can withstand the losses of several key veterans.
“Last year and the first part of this year we didn’t really have much adversity as far as injuries and guys getting suspended,” Wilson said. “It’s something new for us and we have to keep working through it.
“We have enough depth on our team and in our organization that guys are going to come up and play and fill the role and give us a chance to win. We have enough skill in this room where we’ll be all right and hopefully, we can kind of stick it to the Rangers tomorrow.”
To make room for Carey, the Caps re-assigned defenseman Ryan Stanton to Hershey.
Carey, 27, has 12 goals, 11 assists and 14 penalty minutes in 35 games with Hershey this season and ranks second on the team in goals and points. The Boston native has recorded 119 points (54 goals, 65 assists) and 113 penalty minutes in 223 career AHL games with Lake Erie, Providence and Hershey.
In 22 previous NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche, Carey has earned one assist and four penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward made his NHL debut on March 12, 2014 and played in 12 of C Colorado’s final 17 contests in 2013-14.
Carey appeared in another 10 games with the Avalanche last season and earned his first NHL point with an assist on Feb. 16 against Arizona. He was selected by Colorado in the fifth round, 135th overall, in the 2007 NHL Draft and signed with Washington as a free agent on July 8, 2015.
Stanton, 26, did not play with the Caps after being recalled. He signed with the Capitals as a free agent on July 24, 2015.
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