Two words not often associated with Jack Johnson.
The 36-year-old veteran Colorado Avalanche defenseman, a physical and reliable presence on the team’s last pairing, has notched the scoresheet in consecutive games. Johnson scored against the Anaheim Ducks for his first goal since the 2021 season. He kept it rolling in a 4-2 home loss Wednesday to Minnesota with one of the savvier assists you’ll see all season.
In the first period, with a Colorado penalty kill winding down, Johnson took possession of a loose puck in his own zone. Johnson said he heard the Ball Arena sound system play the Mario video game power-up sound effect — signaling a successful PK — and knew that teammate Bowen Byram was exiting the penalty box. Johnson sent a perfect pass off the sidewall and Byram took care of the rest.
“You’re just trying not to put (the puck) all the way down. Give him a chance,” Johnson said. “A lot has to fall into place. You see it once in a while. … It all worked out.”
Bowen Byram jumps out of the box and buries on the breakaway to knot it up at 1 for the Avalanche!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/NNgVCw8Vmu— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 30, 2023
Coach Jared Bednar added: “You often see a big save at one end of the rink and an opportunity at the other end of the rink. (Alexandar Georgiev) starts it and then a nice clear. It’s got to get out of the zone, number one. And, if you can get it into an area where a guy can skate onto it, even better. (Johnson) does both.”
Johnson is more than just a dressing room fixture while averaging 16:44 of ice time over his 17 games back in Colorado.
“Points are great and they’re fun,” Johnson said. “But I just keep playing.”
Reflection on ‘passengers’
Bednar didn’t mince words in the postgame news conference after the Dallas loss with Colorado missing a chance to lead the Central Division. He felt the team had “some passengers for the first period-plus” and that he would address that lack of effort in one-on-one chats. Bednar didn’t not specify which players.
Jared Bednar doesn’t call out anyone by name, but he took issue with effort level from a few #Avs tonight: “We had some passengers for the first period-plus.” pic.twitter.com/CiYD3csDTi— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson) March 30, 2023
How did those conversations go?
“They always are (receptive),” Bednar said Friday after practice inside the team’s training facility. “It’s the same process every game all year. Same type of meetings. Same message. … Feedback eliminates any confusion.”
Bednar once again declined to name the players in question.
What’s next: The Avalanche (44-24-6) host the Dallas Stars (40-20-14), 7 p.m. Saturday (Altitude) at Ball Arena