Marcus Johansson of the Washington Capitals celebrates his third period goal during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on March 15, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
For all of August, Marcus Johansson has been on ice with Färjestad, and now Mackan is ready for his second season in the NHL. His first season as the youngest player on the Washington Capitals was a big success.
In preparation for the upcoming season, Marcus has been training under Ulf Karlsson, the former coach of the Swedish national track and field team.
"Last year I trained too much and I was a bit slow in the beginning of the season because of that. Ulf has helped me create a training program that is tailor-made just for me. He is very talented."
It was Marcus's uncle Gunnar Johansson, the former Färjestad coach, that introduced him to Ulf Karlsson.
More muscle weight
"I have worked a lot on my speed and to try to build up my strength and I have put on a few extra kilos of muscle mass. You need that over there. I can already feel that it has given some results. I can remain more stable when I bump into someone on the ice and I also have better balance with the puck in tight situations."
Washington Capitals management praised Marcus both during and after his rookie season. Mackan was the team's youngest player, but he still averaged between 15 and 20 minutes of ice time at the end of the season.
"I got the opportunity to play on both the power play and the penalty kill unit. That's not something I would have expected when I first went over there last year. The coaches told me after the season that I had succeeded beyond their expectations, that they liked me as a two-way player and that they looked forward to seeing me next season."
Playing with Ovechkin
Marcus was even given a chance to play on the same line as the team's superstar Alex Ovechkin.
"I personally don't think that I succeeded beyond anyone's expectations. I went over there to play as much as possible, and as the season progressed, I progressed with it and played better and better. After Christmas I really got going."
It also helped that he was completely injury-free. In the first half of the season, he was bothered by first a groin injury and then cracks in the bones of the foot and in a big toe.
"I have very high expectations for this upcoming season. I'm on the team to perform at the the top of my abilities. It's important to continue where I left off last season and continue to improve everything."
On Saturday Marcus is leaving Karlstad to go visit his parents in Landskrona.
"I fly to Washington on September 1st. Our main camp begins on September 15th and we play the first preseason game on the 19th."
The Capitals first NHL game is at home against the Carolina Hurricanes on October 8, two days after Mackan's 21st birthday.
"Last year I found out on my birthday that I would be playing in the opening game. That birthday gift will be hard to beat!"
"I really like Washington D.C., it's a great city to live in."
This time he won't travel alone across the Atlantic, his girlfriend Amelia will come with him.
"My girlfriend Amelia studies to become a social worker, therefore she stayed home in Sweden last winter. But now she is taking a sabbatical to come with me. It feels great."
Mackan wants to see a happier ending to the season this year.
"My biggest hope is that we will win it all this year."
Last season Washington got eliminated by Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs.
"It was very disappointing. We beat them during the regular season, but in the playoffs they deserved to win. Tampa was the better team."