New Jersey Devils Should Play Marcus Johansson Against Tampa Bay

New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson has been sidelined since Jan. 23, after a cheap shot from Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand. The hit caused Johansson’s second concussion of the season.

Johansson recently commented on the hit that put him on the shelf to ESPN:

“It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. There was no point in doing that. There was no hockey play there whatsoever. I think it’s sad to see that there’s still guys out there that are trying to hurt other guys. I hope it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. That’s not why we play the game. I think there’s always situations where you try and hit someone and you try to make a hockey play, and things can go wrong. Then there are plays like this, that has nothing to do with hockey. So it’s sad to see, and I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”

On Apr. 1, Johansson was activated from the injured reserve, but he still hasn’t played a game. He’s been skating and practicing with the team, but has yet to crack the lineup. Devils coach John Hynes stated that Johansson is day-to-day and not cleared to play just yet.

However, the playoffs begin tomorrow, and if the New Jersey Devils want to improve their chances  of knocking off the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, they should put Johansson in the lineup.

If he was really too hurt to play, he would still be on the injured reserve. It is understandable that the team wants to be cautious with him, considering it’s his second concussion of the year, but the time is now or never for him to return. If the Devils didn’t think he could return this year, he would’ve already been shut down.

It’s time to put Johansson in and let him sink or swim. In the 29 games he’s played this season, MoJo scored five goals and dished out nine assists. Last season, as a member of the Washington Capitals, Johansson scored a career high 24 goals on his way to a career high 58-point season. Johansson also has 69 games of playoff experience scoring nine goals and tallying 21 assists.

Johansson could really give the Devils the scoring boost they need against Tampa Bay. He can take the spot currently occupied by either Brian Gibbons or Brian Boyle. Hynes should at the very least give him an opportunity and see what he can do. If the Devils really want to upset the Lightning, they’ll give No. 90 a look.