The performance of Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in 2013-14 has been somewhat of a mixed bag as the 23-year old has shown continued ability to create space with the puck and find teammates, but seems to vanish from the offense at times.
With a total of seven goals and 25 assists for a career-high 0.67 points per game over 48 games played, there is no doubt that Johansson will be happy with his peripheral statistics. However, the truth is that he has much more to offer. What could take Johansson from being a third wheel to Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom to a top-notch scoring threat would be for him to shoot the puck more. Or really, to shoot the puck at all.
Johansson has taken only 67 shots on the season, or an average of 1.4 shots per game, which is a total that is more suited for a third-line player than a first-liner. This is shown by the fact that the 23-year-old ranks ninth on the Capitals in total shots and 289th in the NHL, which means that nearly 10 players per team have been shooting the puck more than Johansson.
For a guy that plays 17:34 per game, it would not be difficult to boost his shot total from 1.4 per game, and it would surely be a boon for Johansson, Ovechkin, Backstrom and the Capitals. While he may not have the most potent shot in the world, simply putting the puck on net more will open up more space for both Ovechkin and Backstrom, who have both been heavily defended this year.
Teams simply know that they are going to be the two players at shooting the puck, and have been able to limit them during even strength play.
It is also clear that Johansson has the ability to score goals when he does shoot the puck, even if that seems to be a rare occurrence. So far in 2013-14, he has a 10.4 percent shooting percentage, which is a very respectable total and indicative of the fact that players can sometimes find a lucky goal or two by simply getting shots off. Considering his 13.4 percent career mark and 15.0 percent in 2012-13, it is clear that when he does shoot, goals will begin to come.
Simply shooting the puck for the sake of it would not be a beneficial thing by any means, but that is not the point in Johansson’ scase. What is relevant is that he often passes up on genuine scoring opportunities because Ovechkin and Backstrom are looking for the puck, and teams have begun to pick up on this to a certain extent.
Providing a bit of variation with the puck will give these two better shooting opportunities in the long run, and will likely result in the Capitals seeing a boost to their 12th-ranked 2.8 goals per game.