Another strong effort for B's Nick Johnson

Another strong effort for B's Nick Johnson
September 20, 2013, 2:15 am
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BOSTON - One solid preseason hockey game could be explained away as a serendipitous fluke, but Bruins forward Nick Johnson made certain to put together back-to-back strong efforts in an otherwise ugly loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

After potting a pair of goals in Boston’s win over the Habs on Monday night, the 27-year-old Dartmouth College alum pulled off a highlight reel goal in the B’s 8-2 exhibition loss to the Wings at TD Garden on Thursday. With the Bruins trailing 5-1 in the third period, Ryan Spooner slid a pass from the corner toward the slot area just as Johnson was moving toward the net.

Johnson collected the puck, dangled by Pavel Datsyuk with a quick fake and then roofed a backhanded shot in tight close to the net for as pretty a goal as you’re likely to see in the preseason. There was little doubt as to the aesthetically pleasure nature of Johnson’s score, but he wasn’t in a celebratory mood after being part of getting drubbed by Detroit on the ice.

“I didn’t really put much thought into the goal at all because the game had a pretty dismal outcome,” said Johnson. “I’ve felt fine in camp and I really think the coaches have done a good job of communicating and going through all of the systems work.

“But I signed on to be a member of this organization for this season, and there’s nothing to be happy about after a game like this. It was just bad at every turn.”

While fellow third-line candidates like Jordan Caron, Matt Fraser and Carl Soderberg fail to completely seize their chances to lock up one of the wing vacancies on either side of Chris Kelly, Johnson just continues to impress with whatever opportunities are given to him.

Don’t think that the Bruins coaching staff hasn’t noticed.

“The [front office] signed him. I didn’t know much about him before camp. He’s got close to 100 games in the NHL. So he’s got some experience and it shows,” said Claude Julien. “It shows that he has some experience in these types of games. We’re always looking for depth players.

“There’s some spots open and right now he’s created a good battle for some of those open spots. He’s scored a couple of goals; I think in Montreal, he’s got another one tonight, two goals in three games. Not bad for a guy that came in that not too many people knew about.”

It’s not like Johnson’s solid showing at camp should be that much of a surprise. The former Dartmouth College standout has over 100 games of NHL experience with the Penguins, Wild and Coyotes, and put up eight goals and 26 points for Minnesota in 2011-12. He could be posting a few more of those numbers in Boston if his dark horse candidacy for a roster spot continues with more strong performances in B’s training camp this month.