WILMINGTON -- The time will come for Chad Johnson. At least that’s what the Bruins backup goaltender keeps telling himself as he’s watched Tuukka Rask start 15 of the 17 games played by Boston thus far this season.
In that time, Rask has put up some of the best numbers in the league. He leads the NHL with a .948 save percentage and a 1.53 goals against average, and he has been one of the consistently hottest goalies through the first five weeks of the season.
The 27-year-old Johnson has been perfectly serviceable with a 1-1-0 record along with a 2.53 goals against average and .900 save percentage in his two appearances, but he hasn’t played since looking okay in a loss to the New York Islanders on Nov. 2.
“You just have to treat your practices like your games,” said Johnson. “Part of being a backup goaltender to a guy like Tuukka is being able to play well, even if it’s only once every couple of weeks.”
The Bruins kick off a stretch of playing 10 games in 17 days starting tomorrow night versus the Blue Jackets that will see them through the end of November. It’s pretty clear, somewhere in that span, Johnson will be called upon.
Claude Julien preached patience, though, as there’s bound to be some rust with a goalie that’s played exactly three full games -- including a preseason shutout of the Red Wings -- for the Black and Gold since the end of last season.
“I think it was pretty obvious with the slow start, as far as the schedule was concerned, that it allowed us to get [Rask] going again while getting some rest,” Julien said. “But the schedule will get heavier again, and we’ll have to lean on Chad more and more. We know we’re in a situation where he hasn’t played much, and he’ll need to find his groove a little bit as well, if we expect to get good performances from him.”
It’s highly possible that Johnson gets the call against Columbus for the front end of back-to-back games with a Friday date against divisional rival Ottawa looming on Friday night. That’s the life of an NHL backup goaltender, and it’s one Johnson has gladly accepted while spending this season establishing himself in that role.