The Dynamic Duo and the Death of a Bromance (on the ice)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Albert Johansson, Detroit Red Wings, Red Wings
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Due to some valuable mentoring, Red Wings prospect Albert Johansson is beginning to figure things out.

In the same video mentioned above, Watson recalls that Johansson didn’t come out of the gates as strong as I had thought (darn my untrained, deceiving eyes). I trust the tenured head coach on this one.

Watson mentions that in the past few games, Johansson is playing the way Griffins’ legend, current defensive coach Brian Lashoff, and other players had alluded to from the previous season. Johansson’s game has been more consistent; he’s moving his feet and playing high-end hockey. Watson insisted that Johansson kills plays in his own zone, specifically referencing in the corners and ending plays off the rush.

Lashoff mentions that when Johansson’s playing well, Johansson’s competitive, citing Johansson’s lateral mobility and joining the rush. Johansson is steady and makes an excellent first pass, spending less time on his team’s own end. Most importantly, Johansson’s a good kid and Lashoff emphasizes that he has a good relationship with his former defensive partner, Johansson.

For opportunities in Johansson’s game, Lashoff lists consistency and keeping things simple (my computer friends like to reference this as KISS or keep it simple, stupid). Lashoff reiterates that’s the case with most young players.

“Really, with any young player…I think it’s the biggest thing to make your games that aren’t your best not be your worst games.” Wise words from Mr. Griffin himself.

Pushing further, Lashoff believes there is more offense in Johansson’s game, which is exciting to hear.

Many times, young defensemen are encouraged to play a safe, stay-at-home style of play. It’s not the most entertaining, but these players are needed to win the Stanley Cup (or at the very least earn a paycheck playing hockey). It’s just nice to hear that Lashoff expects more from Johansson. My expectations have grown for Johansson, and I’m sure he’s up to the task.

Soft-spoken Johansson had a chance to speak with the media in the above-referenced video around 6:37. Johansson thought he started the season pretty well, which I can attest to. Then, injury struck. Since returning from injury, Johansson feels he’s taking steps in the right direction, as his coaches confirm.

The Wings want Johansson to work on getting stronger, and I find that interesting. According to the Griffins’ website, Johansson is 185 lbs and six feet tall. Johansson has likely tried adding weight to his frame, but he might have a higher metabolism like former Wings player Danny DeKeyser.

In my viewing, I’m surprised at how strong Johansson is on his skates and the edge in his game. He doesn’t shy away from bullies. Every so often, I see him stirring things up. I suppose that I shouldn’t be so surprised. I reckon Johansson’s older brothers helped him prepare for this role all his life.

Strength could certainly help Johansson’s physical side, but I wonder what might be possible that he hasn’t already tried. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, though.

Johansson mentions his gap control, which we will touch on in a bit. Also, ending plays quickly and setting up teammates with a good first pass.