Capitals

Capitals

The Capitals finally have a goal scorer ranked among the league leaders, though it’s probably not who you’d expect.

It’s Marcus Johansson, whose four goals in Washington’s victories in Vancouver and Calgary have upped his season total to five and vaulted him into a 13-way tie for ninth place in the NHL.

Eight games into the season, Johansson leads the Capitals in both goals and points (9) and is significantly ahead of where he was at this point a year ago. Last season, in fact, Johansson didn’t record his fifth goal until the 23rd game and didn’t notch his ninth point until the 19th contest.

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So what, exactly, is going differently for the 26-year-old, who inked a three-year, $13.75 million extension in July?

“He’s going to the right spots,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters in Calgary. “He’s skating. JoJo is using his God-given talent—his skating. And his line is good.”

Trotz revamped the forward combinations following the loss in Edmonton, putting Johansson on a line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. The trio has accounted for a pair of goals at even strength, scored by Johansson and Wilson vs. Vancouver. Two of Johansson's other three goals during this torrid stretch have come on the power play, while another was scored into an empty net after heads-up feed from Jay Beagle.

 

As for going to the right spots, as Trotz put it, we should note that both of Johansson’s power play goals were scored from the doorstep of the opposing net. In Vancouver, he parked himself at the side of Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom and jammed in a rebound off the far post before a defender could clear him out. On Sunday night, Johansson was loitering near the side of the Calgary net (and behind two Flames defenders) when Alex Ovechkin sent him a perfectly-placed pass that he tapped behind netminder Brian Elliott.

Same spot. Same result.

“It was a great pass from Ovi,” said Johansson, who's two power play tallies are tops on the team, as well. “He hit me right on the tape. I just had to put my stick there. Those are nice and all, and I’m happy to take those.”

While it would seem unlikely that a player who has one-20 goal season on his resume will remain on a 50-goal pace, it will be interesting to see if Johansson is able to parlay this strong start into a career year.

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