BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Since making his NHL debut in 2010, winger Marcus Johansson has missed the postseason just once in his career.
That season would be the last the Sabres would make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ve missed missed the last eight years — the longest postseason drought in the NHL.
Still, when asked why the Blue & Gold were an attractive option to join in free agency, the 28-year-old didn’t hesitate when answering.
“I think just talking to Ralph (Krueger) and Jason (Botterill), I like what Buffalo’s got going,” Johansson said on a teleconference with reports on Monday. “Talking to Ralph, he has some really good ideas on how to play. It’s a young and exciting team so, I’m looking forward to it. Once I came down to it I was really excited about going to Buffalo.”
Changing the culture and finding players with a winning pedigree have been two goals for the new bench boss in the Queen City. Johansson said he learned a lot during his short stint with the Bruins this season, which included a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
“The biggest thing is being comfortable and open in the locker room,” he said. “It’s got to be a positive vibe and want to move forward together. It’s a game of mistakes and you have to be able to make mistakes and move forward and not dwell on too much that has gone wrong.
“It’s such a long season and I think if you get everyone on the same page and work together, and like I said, if there are mistakes you learn from it and move on and with a young group like this, it’s very important.”
And last season, there were plenty of mistakes for the Blue & Gold, especially after Nov. 29 when the team failed to win back-to-back games until the final two games of the regular season.
Still, Johansson believes the Sabres can turn things around and be postseason contenders.
“I mean, all these young guys, the more they play the more they learn. I think last year they showed in the beginning of the year how capable they are of playing good hockey and you have to keep it at a good level for most of the season,” Johansson said.
“It’s trying to keep everyone positive and keep everyone moving forward even though you have rough patches. With all these young players being so good, they learn from everything and I think with all the talent they have it’s going to go well.”