Johnson may get first start in net vs. Sabres

Johnson may get first start in net vs. Sabres
October 21, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Chad Johnson gets his first start for the Bruins against the Sabres in Buffalo.

(AP Photo)

WILMINGTON -- Chad Johnson hasn’t played a full game since a Sept. 21 shutout of the Detroit Red Wings during the preseason, so it goes without saying Boston wants to get him into the mix after a month manning the bench door.

With a back-to-back situation on tap for this week with a road game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night and the vaunted San Jose Sharks on Thursday night, Johnson is expected to get the assignment on the road against the lowly Sabres. Buffalo is averaging an NHL-worst 1.20 goals per game through their first 10 games of the season, and on the other hand San Jose is leading the NHL with a whopping 4.88 goals per game during a torrid start to the season.

Tuukka Rask has started the first seven games of the season, and is off to a 5-2-0 start with a 1.29 goals against average and a .954 save percentage, so there hasn’t been much chance to rest the hot goaltending hand.

“We’ll probably give him a shot at some point, and Buffalo might be one of the games that we give him,” admitted Julien. “We haven’t made a final decision yet, but I will definitely put him on notice. We’ve got to give him an opportunity at some point, and that might be a good chance to use him then.”

The 27-year-old Johnson admitted it’s both a mental and physical grind to stay loose when it’s been a month between starts, but he also expected as much when looking at the B’s team schedule at the start of the year.

“It’s always good to know [you’re going to play], so the sooner the better. It puts a little different feeling for the preparation, for sure” said Johnson, who put up a 1.97 goals against average and a .929 save percentage in 10 career NHL games while bouncing back and forth in the Coyotes and Rangers organizations. “When I was considering [Boston] as an opportunity to sign here, I was looking at the schedules, and seeing how many games I could possibly get guaranteed with back-to-back games.

“Playing back-to-back games at this level is tough for a goaltender. This one coming up as one of the situations I had marked down as possibly getting in [for a start]. As a backup you can go weeks or months without playing, so it’s one of those things where you prepare in practice like it’s a game. Then do your best to help your team win a hockey game when you do get in there.”

The Sabres have been doing their best to let opponents get wins against them with an 1-8-1 record to start the NHL season, but there’s little doubt Buffalo will be getting the best of Chad Johnson if he’s net in net Wednesday night for his first game as a member of the Bruins.