Chad Johnson never played more than five games in a season is his three year career as a part-time NHL goaltender. Johnson’s lack of experience and a supplementary shortage of wins at hockey’s highest level made him an unusual candidate to replace the beloved character Anton Khudobin who preceded as the Bruins’ backup goalie. To say the signing of Johnson was “out of nowhere” would be an understatement. After all, the 27 year old had yet to spend a full season with an NHL team.
Johnson’s contributions to the Bruins team this season have been game changing; especially with starter Tuukka Rask’s history of fatigue. In 22 appearances for the Bruins, Johnson has managed to hold opponents to 2 goals or less in 18 games. Johnson leaves Newark on a streak of his own; in his last 10 starts, Johnson is 9-0-1 with a SV% of .916 over that span.
It’s easy to argue that Johnson is the best backup in the Eastern Conference, if not throughout the NHL. Johnson’s play in net is similar to former Chicago Blackhawks backup Ray Emery last year when Emery posted a 17-1-0 record during the season. Johnson is currently 15-3-1 on the season and will surely see an even greater increase in starts as the Bruins near the end of yet another successful season. It seems that Johnson will relieve Tuukka Rask frequently until playoff time, but will look to only contribute to the Bruins’ race for the President’s Trophy.
The Swedish Connection – and Chris Kelly
The emergence of Carl Soderberg on the NHL’s most dominant 3rd line has been a godsend for the Bruins this year. Soderberg’s 12-28-40 scoring line only sheds a little light on the immense contributions he has offered to the team following the Olympic break. Along with Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson, Soderberg and the third line have been just as productive as the first and second lines during the month of March.
Low-end defenders have trouble containing the playmaking of Soderberg and Eriksson; in fact, a large part of the Bruins’ win streak can be attributed to the matchup headache the third line provides. Between the eye-opening setups and winning of puck battles, the Swedish Connection offers high-end depth to an already deep Bruins roster. The trio have even been compared to the Rich Peverley – Chris Kelley – Michael Ryder third line during the 2011 Stanley Cup run. The materialization of the third line is a large part of the reason the Bruins have outscored their opponents 40-14 in their last 10 games.
Jarome Iginla’s 556th Only “Icing on the Cake”
On Tuesday night, Jarome Iginla registered his 556th career goal against the Devils in the Bruins’ 4-2 victory. This feat tied Iginla for 25th on the all-time scoring list with Bruins’ legend Johnny Bucyk. But Iginla’s career achievements seem to have taken a back seat to his performances throughout the last few games. Iginla has 6 goals in his last four games, and 9 goals during the Black and Gold’s season-best 10 games winning streak.
Iginla’s work on the David Krejci line alongside Milan Lucic this year puts the Bruins in the place they currently stand; at the top of the East. Without Iginla, it is hard to imagine the Bruins making a late season push; nevertheless, an entire season of toughness and grit unique to the veteran forward Iginla. In 1,301 NHL games, Iginla has 556 goals and 606 assists for 1,162 points. Hopefully, Jarome Iginla will have a ring to add to his collection of awards after the season, but for now, the Bruins will look to stay on the hot streak they have been riding since the Olympic break.
The Bruins take on the Avalanche Friday night in Colorado.
Tyler Jones, Causeway Crowd