Johnson Standing Tall

A lot of the time, good teams just need their goaltenders not to lose games for them, but successful teams do need their goalies to win one for them once in a while.  And Chad Johnson won one for the Whale Tuesday, proving that the 11:00 AM start time did not knock him off of his game at all.  Johnson stopped 33 out of the 34 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, and the one that got by him was a deflected dribbler that was just stuffed across the line, and only one of Worcester’s five shootout attempts got by him, in a 2-1 win that got the Whale back into a tie for first place in the Northeast Division with Bridgeport.

The Whale had only 23 shots in the game, and the Sharks had a wide territorial advantage, but Johnson was the difference, looking calm and

Chad Johnson

composed, and seeing the puck well, all day.  And it’s not like this is a new development.  Since the first of February, when the whole Whale team began to turn the corner collectively after a very frustrating January, Johnson has quietly been putting together what has amounted to the best run of his pro career.

Johnson is now 7-2-0 in the month of February, with a 1.49 goals-against average and a 95.2 save percentage, even better stats than he had in October, when he has named AHL Goaltender of the Month after going 3-0-2 with a 1.69 GAA and a 94.2% save percentage.  For the season, the third-year pro is up to 17-11-5, with a 2.32 GAA and a 92.2% save percentage.  Those numbers are good for ninth in the league in GAA and save percentage.   It’s no coincidence that the team is now 9-2-1 in January, as Johnson has given the Whale the type of number-one goaltending that covers up for a lot of sins.  Not that he has had to stand on his head every night, but he’s making all the saves he should make, plus a few he probably shouldn’t, and that’s worth its weight in gold.

One other notable number…Tuesday’s morning-game win was the Whale’s sixth straight at home, and upped their league-best home winning percentage to .731 (16-4-2-4).  After this weekend’s two road games, the Whale plays seven of the next eight, and 11 of the next 13, inside the friendly confines of the XL Center.  If they continue to play anywhere near as well at home as they have over the past two-and-a-half months (11-1-2-3 in the last 17 home tilts), they should be able to make a run at the top spot in the conference.

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