Kalman: A Stanley Cup with Bruins would even Johansson’s score with Capitals

Matt Kalman
May 25, 2019 - 4:47 pm

Marcus Johansson knows what it’s like to get dumped and then watch his ex hit the lottery.

That’s what it must have felt like for the Bruins forward watching the Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup last season, one year after trading him to the New Jersey Devils.

Johansson had played in 69 postseason games over six season with the Capitals without ever getting beyond the second round.

Nonetheless, Johansson said he didn’t hold a grudge the way you or I might if our ex achieved ultimate glory while also exiling us to of all places New Jersey.

“Not everyone, but some of the guys,” Johansson responded to a question about feeling joy for his former teammates after their win against Vegas last June. “And definitely happy for a lot of the guys that won there. It was mixed emotions as well. But everyone wants to win, obviously, but playing with guys for that long and you know being close friends, I mean I was obviously happy for a lot of guys in there that worked hard for it and deserved to get to that point.”

Now Johansson has a chance to make the Capitals a little jealous, as the Bruins will finally begin the 2019 Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues on Monday at TD Garden. He practiced in his usual spot to the left of center Charlie Coyle and right wing Danton Heinen on Saturday.

Interestingly enough, Johansson was a solid performer for the Capitals during those underachieving postseasons, getting 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 69 games. That was probably a big reason the Devils acquired Johansson when the Capitals made him available because of a salary-cap crunch. But he didn’t have a point in three games in New Jersey’s five-game loss to Tampa Bay in the first round last season.

There were high expectations for Johansson and the Devils heading into this season, but they were on their way to their 29th-place finish when they became sellers at the trade deadline. Johansson was one of the lucky ones that got out and joined a team that’s made a long playoff run.

“I kind of figured there was a big chance that something was going to happen, and you know that’s the way the business goes. You know I’m just really happy this is where I ended up,” he said.

Depending on how much they were willing to spend the Bruins probably could’ve had any of the group of rentals available, which included Johansson, Gustav Nyquist, Mats Zuccarello and Wayne Simmonds. Just two months ago it looked like they’d wasted a couple draft picks through no fault of their own. Johansson was blown up by Carolina’s Micheal Ferland on March 5, Johansson’s third game with Boston. A bruised lung kept Johansson out of the lineup until March 27 and he had just six games to get ready for the postseason.

Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t sure where Johansson would fit in his lineup, but the Swede has meshed with the Weymouth, Mass., native Coyle and now the Bruins look like the big winners of the NHL trade deadline.

What Johansson has brought in the playoffs goes beyond his nine points (three goals, six assists) in 15 postseason games. In a dressing room teeming with guys who have either won the Stanley Cup or at least gone three rounds deep in the postseason, the guy that had only known Capitals failures before this season has found his voice.

 “JoJo had that look in his eye and he spoke up a little bit in the locker room,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said about Johansson’s performance and leadership during Boston’s third-period comeback in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. “You get excited about that as a teammate when you see a guy that maybe isn’t as comfortable in the locker room as other guys, just because he hasn’t been here for a while, but he stepped up and he came out right in that third period and scored that early goal and set the tone for us.”

Johansson wasn’t comfortable enough with the Boston media to name names, but he said he’s already received well wishes from some of the same former Capitals teammates he was congratulating 11 months ago. If he keeps up his postseason production against the Blues, there’ll be even more messages from around the NHL on the way.