So it was the night of September 16th, and I was settling down to watch the first Bruins action since personally witnessing the heart-stomping affair that was Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Boston was playing their first exhibition match against - who else? Montreal, of course (does Boston do anything besides play Montreal?!?!?!). So, I'm all settled in, the game starts, and....
Hold on. Let's just make sure we are all talking about the same player here. This is a report card about Nick Johnson. Here's how you say his name:
Now that we've cleared that up...
The game starts, and before you know it, Jarome Iginla scores on the PP to make it 1-0! Shortly after Travis Moen scores an equalizer, but shortly after that, Gabriel Dumont of Montreal takes a double minor for high-sticking and it's none other than Nick Johnson scoring yet another PP goal!
The 2nd period begins and wouldn't you know it, P.K. Subban is tying the game with a PP goal (5 on 3 no less), and I'm starting to worry that the Bruins 5 year unbeaten streak against Montreal in the preseason might be in jeopardy. No need to fear, as Nick Johnson comes to the rescue with a blocked shot at the blue line, resulting in a breakaway on Carey Price:
Johnson would finish the game with 2 goals, +1 rating, 4 shots and 12:23 TOI (2:23 of which came on the PP) in a 6-3 Bruins victory. Well, you've certainly got my attention Mr. Johnson.
He certainly got the Bruins attention too, as he would appear in all but one of the subsequent 6 exhibition games the Bruins would play in the 2013 preseason, averaging roughly 14:30 TOI and registering an additional 2 goals, none more delightful than this dandy scored against Detroit during a forgettable 8-2 blowout:
I was in the building for that one too, and must confess I immediately reached for my phone to tell a friend she should without delay pick up Nick Johnson in her Fantasy Hockey league if he was available because there was no way he wasn't making the Bruins that season (Lisa, if you're reading this, my apologies again for that).
Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson drew the short end of the straw in an epic 3-way battle for the Bruins final slot on the third line, won out by Reilly Smith. Sent down to Providence as one of the last cuts to be made in the preseason, Johnson would enjoy a very nice run with the AHL affiliate of the Bruins, making major contributions in scoring and leadership as Providence was eventually eliminated in 7 games by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
All was not lost for Johnson's NHL dream, as he did find his way into the lineup for 9 NHL games during the month of December. Here's a look at his NHL/AHL stats for 2013-14, as well as NHL Career totals:
|NHL Career Totals||114||14||23||37||52||-8||196||29|
While Boston went 5-4-0 with his presence in the lineup, Johnson didn't make nearly the impact he made during the preseason. Johnson earned a brief reprieve having been sent back to the AHL on December 24th when Carl Soderberg went down with an injury, resulting in his being recalled on emergency basis. He was returned to the Baby B's in 2014 (his last game coming against the Islanders in a 5-4 loss on December 31st).
Grade: Incomplete, but not by much
Johnson clearly has experience career wise in the NHL, having played nearly a full season with the Wild in 2011-12. However, during the "cup of coffee" he earned with the Bruins, he was never truly given the chance to truly strut his stuff, being buried on the 4th line and registering less than 9:00 in TOI in 5 of the 9 games he played. He's a UFA who made $600K, so he certainly could be brought back on the cheap if the Bruins want him. Here's hoping they do, and I get to watch him in yet another classic beat down of Montreal in the preseason.