Host: You are behind half of the goals in today’s game; you seem to be an a roll again.
AJ: It felt better today. We had good some good power in the line, we like playing together, and today we found good solutions to the situations that arose. But also the whole team played well out there so it created opportunities.
Expert (Petter Rönnberg former goalie): I remember when I played, and we were two- or three-nil up, every coach I had stood there saying, "Control the game, stay calm, defend well, stay focused." But you guys, you just keep rolling; you never stop if you are three- or four-nil up, doesn’t matter.
AJ: We have been talking a lot about that the three years that I have been here; we have to continue to play. It's because of that play that we are three goals up, so we can’t just stop. It's better to continue and have them make a mistake so we can score number four instead.
Other Expert (Niklas Wikegård former coach): I have a personal question for you, but after a few years in the SHL, and I know there are matches to go—and you will fight with Skellefteå all the way for the league lead and then in the playoffs—but if we look forward, you are there to win the championship (Le Mat Trophy). It’s is far off, but do you feel that you have taken a step forward with each season toward being ready for a deep playoff run?
AJ: I already felt last year that I had more to give in the playoffs than the year before. Two years ago, I felt flat after half the season, and in the playoffs I barely played. My second season, I felt much more responsible. I had better stamina, and I could go on much longer, playing the whole season and the playoffs. But I got injured last year in the playoffs. It would have been nice to play two full playoff rounds at least, but I still feel that I have grown. I feel I can control the play rather than the play controlling me.
NW: Great answer and a great explanation. Thank you!
AJ: Thank you!
As you can see from his career stats below, Johnson is putting up points at a much higher rate than last year. Frölunda, who are running away with the SHL hand-in-hand with Skellefteå are surely going to want more than 8 games and 4 points out of Johnson this year.
He has an opportunity in the remaining couple dozen games of the regular season plus the playoffs to make a statement about how much he has progressed.
Barely below him on the depth chart is Artturi Lehkonen, a Montréal prospect who has signed a one-year extension with Frölunda. Johnson is expected to be in the Toronto Maple Leafs camp next year, and will at least play for the Marlies if all goes well.
Johnson's job is two-fold: he needs to be good enough to keep getting more icetime and opportunities than Lehkonen, and he needs to be better enough than he was last year to get the attention of the Maple Leafs brass who are busy with other concerns closer to home.
If he comes into camp next year with good buzz, the very hard job of making an impression gets easier.