Nick Johnson really couldn’t have planned it any better.
Johnson was called up in the middle of last week’s road trip through Western Canada when Daniel Paille was sent back to Boston with post-concussion symptoms, and the Calgary native has managed to be with the Bruins for both games against his hometown Flames.
The first was Jarome Iginla’s return to the Saddledome, and there probably wasn’t a cooler atmosphere for an Alberta kid that rooted for Iggy and the Flames as a youngster.
“It was easy to like them when Iggy was scoring up a storm, and they were going to the Cup Finals," Johnson said. "[Iginla] is such a monumental guy in Calgary. All of my friends and family were posting the crowd ovations on Facebook, so it was a tremendous experience to be a part of. Playing at home where all my friends can watch me, I like playing against them. You’re a fan growing up as a kid trying to live some dream, and you get to play against the [Flames] jersey.
“There’s a little something extra. It means that you’ve made it, in some respect. It’s crazy how it works that I was able to go home for a week.”
It was doubly cool that Johnson also got to check in with family and friends in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver with the knowledge that he won’t be home for the holidays.
Now Johnson gets ready to suit up again with the Bruins, and it appears he’ll play based on the Tuesday morning skate at TD Garden. While it’s still pretty cool to suit up against the Flames in his first home game as a member of the Bruins, the Dartmouth College grad wants to start making an impression with a few games under his belt.
“I think I’ve been fine," Johnson said. "I’m not to the level that I expect. I felt a little better in the last game just carrying the puck, and feeling a little more confidence. I’m pretty sure I can keep that going, and see where it goes. I definitely have a little more in there, and I know it’s going to come.
“You just try to get off the right start. I was waiting for the right opportunity, and now it’s here. It’s a ‘put up or shut up’ kind of thing. You want to leave it all out there, and see what happens.”
Johnson has played in three games without registering a point, and has two shots on net while averaging 11:02 of ice time. In his own mind he’s been “okay” in the three games, but said he started to feel like himself in the Saturday night tilt against the Canucks after a rough travel day from Providence to Calgary.
“I have a brother in Vancouver, and family in Calgary and Edmonton," Johnson said. "It was great. A little hectic and a little tiring when you’re trying to give your best effort knowing there are people that want to see you. They all know I’m not going to be home for Christmas. So you’ve got to spend some with them. But it was great.”