Boston fans have not seen the best of Marcus Johansson, the 28-year-old Swedish winger said on Thursday morning. But with the Bruins’ Game 1 matchup against the Maple Leafs looming hours later, Johansson was confident he’s ready to deliver it.
“No, they have not,” said Johansson prior to his Bruins playoff debut. “I’ve had some good games, but the first few, it takes a little time to get used to new systems and everything else that’s new. Then I got hurt and you come back and you’re trying to get back into yourself a little bit. I feel I’m more than ready now and that this is the time to step.”
Acquired at the trade deadline ostensibly to fill the second line right wing spot next to David Krejci, Johansson played four games before suffering a lung contusion on a March 5 hit from Carolina’s Michael Ferland. When he returned to the lineup three weeks later, the plan changed. He was first given a brief look on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand before finding what looks like a home on his natural left wing on the third line next to center Charlie Coyle.
While the production hasn’t exactly been off the charts, the line — which was set to start the series with Danton Heinen on the right side — had started to show up on the scoresheet. Johansson scored his first goal as a Bruin when he potted one in the home-ice clinching win in Columbus, added an assist in the win over Minnesota and had three shots on net in the regular season finale against Tampa Bay He feels the chemistry with Coyle is building.
“I think it’s very good. I think we’ve played well the last couple of games,” Johansson said. “The last game we could have scored a bunch of goals if we had a few bounces go our way. We had the puck a lot, we played the right way and we found each other a lot. So far it’s been really good.”
But while still a relative newcomer to the Bruins, Johansson has seen enough to know that the composition of the lines can change quickly.
“I’m just preparing to play and I don’t think it matters who you play with on this team,” Johansson said. “We have such a good team. We have really good depth on this team. Whatever you’re required to do, I think everyone in this room is ready to step up to it. Whatever it takes and whatever we need to do, I’m all for it.”
Johansson, whose nickname is MoJo, hopes his against the Leafs can pick up where it left off from the last time he played Toronto in the playoffs. That was in 2017, when he scored the overtime game- and series-winner in Game 6 of the first round in Toronto, his second goal of the contest.
“It was a while ago, but I definitely have some good memories for it,” he said with a smile.
Meanwhile, coach Bruce Cassidy has liked his game in the last couple of outings and believes this will be Johansson’s time to shine.
“I think he’s been around long enough to know he was brought here to help us in the playoffs,” Cassidy said. “We were a good regular season team when he showed up and he helped with that to a certain extent. But now is when he knows he truly has to be at his best. Not that you’re taking Game 80 off or anything but he was prepping for this. So I think he’ll play well. He’ll add some scoring and speed for us. This is a good series for him. (Toronto) has a lot of speed so we’ll see how it plays out.”