On the 15th day of the NHL playoffs, four of the top five goal-scoring leaders have been knocked out of the post-season: the Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko (6) and the Preadators’ Colin Wilson (5), Filip Forsberg (4) and James Neal (4). Standing now three goals from his closest competitor at six goals is a member of the game 7-bound Tampa Bay Lightning, a player who has lit the lamp consistently ever since he first entered the league.
No, it’s not Steven Stamkos.
But that’s okay.
Tyler Johnson has been a thorn in the side of the Detroit Red Wings, with a well-documented loss of Luke Glendening in Game 4 considered the sole reason why the Lightning were able to come back from a 2-0 hole and tie a series that looked to be all Red Wings. Freed from his defensive shadow, Johnson is a more severe scoring threat than the Datsyuk-covered Stamkos. Included in his seven points this far is two game-winning goals, tied for first in the post-season.
He has kept the Elias Sports Bureau busy with the scoring records he can now claim as his: his three multi-goal games within one playoff series is not only a team record, Johnson is the first member of the Tampa Bay Lightning to do it. But when it comes to the entire post-season, Johnson shares the three multi-goal games honors with two other members of the Lightning: none other than team legends Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, who did so in the same Stanley Cup-winning 2004 season. Also sharing a 2004 postseason record, alum Ruslan Fedotenko and Johnson both have scoring six goals within a single playoff series.
To think that this is Johnson’s sophomore campaign and he now has nine points (7 goals, 2 assists) in only the tenth playoff game in his professional career makes his achievements all the more incredible. Combined with the fact he was an undrafted player makes him stand out.
Tyler Johnson is playing Conn Smythe type hockey right now. Undrafted and unbelievable.
— Jason Gold (@JayGold85) April 28, 2015
Following a staggering shutout loss in Tampa, fans and media alike wondered how the offensively starved Lightning would recover in Detroit, who would hold the last change. Game 6 – and the five goals from the Lightning – provided the answer.
Couldn’t ask for more if you’re #TBLightning. Remember that thing about reclaiming an offensive identity? Mission accomplished.
— Andrew Astleford (@aastleford) April 27, 2015
The player who carried the torch was Tyler Johnson, putting up the first goal only 3:47 minutes into the game and returning the lead to the Lightning in the second period before the Bolts took off for two additional goals.
Whether the Lightning can weather the storm on home ice, where their league-leading 30 regulation and OT wins during the regular season has turned into a mere 1-2 showing this playoff season, remains to be seen. But count on Tyler Johnson to lead the way.
Michelle Timian fell in love with hockey after watching a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 and has been following hockey ever since. She is a graduate of Western Illinois University with a degree in Creative Writing and is more comfortable in front of a keyboard than on skates. She also blogs for the New York Rangers at blueshirtsunited.com.