Over the last month the Chicago Blackhawks have look like the defending Stanley Cup champions rather than a fringe playoff team. A major reason for their resurgence has been the effectiveness of Jonathan Toews and the ‘Hawks top line but there have been other small pieces have also contributed to the ‘Hawks recent success.
One of those small pieces who has been a major contributor during this run of stability has been Ryan Johnson, since joining the Blackhawks lineup full time February 9th their record has been 9-1-2. Now looking at Johnson’s stats you might ask how has a guy who only has three points on the season been that big of a contributor during that run.
The reason Johsnon has been such an important cog in the ‘Hawks lineup is his reliability in the faceoff circle as on the season
Johnson’s faceoff percentage is 63.7 and also his ability to contribute on the penalty kill. Johnson has also been able to contribute somewhat offensively recording three points during since February 9th, nearly matching his point total from last season of five points.
Johnson has been a perfect fit on the fourth line along side Tomas Kopecky and Victor Stalberg and has created balance across all four of the Blackhawks lines. With the addition of Johnson to the fourth line Stalberg and Kopecky have seen a boost in their productivity and have also been far better defensively.
Johnson has effectively filled the void in the ‘Hawks lineup that was left when John Madden left for the Minnesota Wild in the offseason. Although Johnson is not a former Stanley Cup champion like Madden, Johnson does bring playoff experience and does bring a veteran presence to a still very young Blackhawks locker room.
Johnson also gives the ‘Hawks another reliable center, along with Toews, who can take critical draws in any situation, something that the ‘Hawks have missed since Madden left. If the ‘Hawks can continue to get strong performances in the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill from Johnson then he will play a critical role in their push towards the playoffs.