Marcus Johansson: "Tampa Got Us to Play Exactly As They Wanted"

via Bridget Samuels on Flickr

Marcus Johansson talked to Värmlands Folkblad about the season that was and about his plans for the summer.

78 games - nine of those in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 27 points in the regular season and six in the playoffs - a total of 15 goals and 18 assists.

A year ago when he signed with the Washington Capitals few people thought that he would have such an immediate impact and success on one of NHL's most star filled teams.

"A lot of people said that it’s strange that you unlike all the other players didn't seem to have a dip in your play, but I just felt that the more I got to play and the more confidence I got from the coaches, the better I played."

After a season in the NHL - how do you view your time in Washington so far?

"I know it sounds special but I have felt at home somehow, but it did feel a bit strange at first. I have learned a lot this year. And experienced all sorts of things both positive and negative. Going into the next season with a year like this behind me feels great."

How has it been to make the transition from the Swedish Elite League to the NHL been?

"I have needed to make a lot of adjustment, there is huge difference between hockey and hockey. It’s hard to see some things when you just watch the games but some of it you can see with your mere eyes."

What has been the most difficult?

 

"You can’t let yourself relax for a second. As a center you are supposed to be the first man on the attack and at the same time you are suppose to be the first one back too. It’s really tough but I wouldn’t want to change position. When you play center you're always were the action is."

The big change in playing style between Europe and North America made the transition difficult for Marcus. He had a rough start to season and he couldn’t play his game the way he wanted.

"It was a little bit frustrating in some ways, but I knew that the transition would be significant - it is the best league in the world after all. It’s more difficult to hold on to the puck over here. Everyone is better at everything, you can really feel the difference. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to just come over and play my game right away, and because of that it felt extra sweet when everything finally fell into place for me" says Johansson.

His life outside of hockey has gone through an equally big change. And as with the on-ice transition it has improved as the season progresses.The team's second Swede, superstar Nicklas Backstrom has been a big help.

"It’s good to get away from the rink and speak some Swedish, it’s things like that, that makes you feel more at home," says Marcus Johansson.

Next season he will have even more company when his girlfriend takes a sabbatical from her studies to move in with him in Washington.

After knocking out the New York Rangers with 4-1 in games the people in the U.S. Capital were getting their hopes up for a long awaited playoff success. But Tampa Bay thought differently and sent the Capitals packing from the Stanley Cup playoffs in four straight games.

"Tampa got us to play exactly as they wanted. We had to dump and chase and we failed when we tried to do that. They tightened up the game for us and they took away everything we are good at."

Johansson continues his analysis - "And when they got their chances they scored every time and we didn’t. When you look back at it, you have to admit that it wasn’t even close," he continues.

What could you have done you differently?

"It’s hard to say, we fought and did everything we could. I honestly don’t know what we could have done differently, it was so damn hard and frustrating."

After the season ending loss against Tampa, Per Mårts chose to not include Mackan in the World Championship squad. Instead Mårts went with Andreas Jämtin.

"I don’t think Marcus is an option. I think we have player of his caliber here," said Per Mårts to Sportbladet at the time.

Mackan’s view on it is this:

"Of course I would have liked to be apart of it, but now it is what it is and I’m going to cross my fingers for those who do play, I have many friends on the team.

Instead he can focus on his free time at home in Karlstad.

"So far I have just taken it easy and spent time with my loved ones. Then in a few weeks, it’s time to start training again and recharge for next season. You have to come back as well prepared as possible, as I said earlier it’s a long season."

Do you train alone?

"I have some things that I can do on my own but I’m going to ask Färjestad if I can train with them as I did last year. I know they always have high quality training so I’m hoping for that."

Marcus Johansson on ...

...the rivalry between the Capitals and Penguins and to play the Winter Classic-game in front of 62,000 spectators: "It was unbelievable to go out on the ice with a band playing and with fires all around you. It almost felt like a movie, it was totally awesome, the biggest thing I have ever been a part of."

...being in the HBO documentary series "24/7 - Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic": "They were in the locker room with us and almost in the showers as well. The first few days it felt a bit strange to have a camera in your face when you were talking to people. But when I got to know them a little I realized that they were great guys. It was a fun experience, but perhaps not something I’d like to do every for the rest of my life."

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