Marcus Johansson has been asked to switch positions for the umpteenth time in his career. And he’s fine with that.
Frankly, it didn’t matter where Wild coach Dean Evason asked Johansson to line up over the weekend. He probably would’ve played goaltender if it came down to it. He was simply happy to be back on the ice after a recent bout with COVID-19.
“You don’t want to see anyone get it,” Johansson said. “We had too many guys have it. It’s just something we had to deal with. It’s never fun. It’s been a long couple of weeks, and I’m glad to be back.”
After playing the entire season to this point at left wing, his natural position, Johansson will play at center in Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. He will be flanked by Jordan Greenway and Kirill Kaprizov, creating a very dynamic line on paper.
“In practice, I think it’s been real good so far,” Johansson said. “Obviously, (Greenway) has been real good for us so far. He’s big and strong, and he wins pucks. Then, (Kaprizov) is so good with the puck. He makes plays out of nothing.”
As for Johansson actually switching positions on the fly, it’s something he has grown accustomed to throughout his career. He did it during his early playing days with the Washington Capitals, occasionally during pit stops with the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, and frequently last season with the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s not that hard,” Johansson said. “It’s kind of a little bit bigger responsibility defensively, I think, and other than that, try and keep moving my feet. You’re naturally moving more as a center. That’s a part that fits me well, I think. Just go out and try to enjoy it.”
Asked about his experience with the coronavirus last week, Johansson noted how he felt “pretty sick” for a few days after testing positive. He slowly started to get better and was officially removed from the COVID-19 list ahead of Saturday’s practice.
“It’s basically been like a flu,” Johansson said. “You kind of have a little more respect for it. Just being sick with fever and all that is never fun.”
That said, Johansson has been surprised with how quickly he has bounced back in practice this week. He said he’s feeling even better than expected and is looking forward to returning to action.
“Hopefully it will keep going that way,” Johansson said. “It’s never the same as a game. It will just be fun to play and be back with the guys and do what we love. We are just fortunate to be able to play.”
After a lengthy recovery process, winger Mats Zuccarello will make his season debut in Tuesday’s game. He had arm surgery this offseason and returned to practice for the first time this weekend. Defenseman Jared Spurgeon likely will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip despite not practicing this week. He was officially removed from the COVID-19 list on Saturday morning.