Pittsburgh’s backup goaltender is in the midst of a shockingly bad statistical campaign — 3-7-0, 3.17 GAA, .882 save percentage — one that didn’t get any better after Sunday’s 6-2 loss to Buffalo. Johnson was yanked from the contest early in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots, the second time in five starts he’s failed to make it past the midway point (he also got an early hook in a 5-1 loss to Ottawa.)
Despite the struggles, the Penguins are standing behind the veteran keeper.
Well, head coach Dan Bylsma is anyway.
“I’m confident this guy can win hockey games,” Bylsma told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He hasn’t played particularly well and hasn’t had a season like last year. He is going to be playing again. He’s going to have to win us some games, and play better.”
Johnson’s struggles this year been exacerbated by his outstanding numbers from last year, when he went 13-5-0 with a sparkling 2.17 GAA and .922 save percentage. That allowed Bylsma to rest No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a number of occasions — something he hasn’t been able to do this season.
Sunday’s game against Buffalo was a prime example. Fleury played the day before in a 6-4 win over Philly and faced 31 shots, then got called in on his day off (which the Sabres took full advantage of, scoring three times on 12 shots.) Forcing Fleury into extended action has been a common theme in Pittsburgh this season — the Pens played 11 games in January and Flower was the goalie of record in 10 of them, a big reason why he’s on pace to set a career high in appearances.
Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.
Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.
The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.
Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.
“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.
Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.
Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.