Some Capitals fans have insisted that one element missing from the team in recent years is depth at the center position behind Nicklas Backstrom. Tonight, the Capitals will try to resolve that issue by introducing Swedish center and 2009 first round draft pick Marcus Johansson to the NHL for the first time.
The 20-year old has spent the past three seasons in Sweden playing in the SEL, where he earned 15 goals and 15 assists in 87 games. He'll get the call as the point man on the Capitals' third line tonight, and will be asked to contribute immediately.
Mike Vogel of WashingtonCapitals.com asked veteran winger Mike Knuble what advice he had for Johansson:
"For Marcus, I’d say concentrate on moving your feet and concentrate on your own end," says veteran Caps winger Mike Knuble when asked how he would counsel Johansson. "If we do get the lead, try and do the right things, try and play smart. Don’t sell the farm in order to make a great play. I don’t think that’s what they’re asking of him. They just want him to play a good two-way game. And when there’s an opportunity there, take it. But if not, then dump it in and try to get your cycle going. He doesn’t have to be a magician and try and make something out of nothing. That’s not why he’s here.
"My advice: move your feet and dump it in a lot, for the first game, just to get it out of the way."
Doesn't sound that difficult. But under the bright lights of the NHL for the first time, in front of a packed house for Opening Night at Philips Arena, it may be tougher than it sounds.