Thursday, December 01, 2016

Eight From 80 Feet: Eight Eye-Popping Stats and Notes About Red-Hot Chad Johnson

When Johnny Gaudreau was lost with his broken finger in Minnesota on November 15, coach Glen Gulutzan said the team would need somebody else to step up. Turns out, one Johnny goes down, one Johnny rises up.

Starting that same night when Chad Johnson stopped all 27 shots in a 1-0 win over the Wild, the 30-year-old has been on an absolute tear. Here are eights facts, figures and observations about Johnson, compiled after his most recent masterpiece, a 39-save shutout of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Eight Notes on a Sizzling-Hot Chad Johnson

1. I don't recall in recent memory a Flames goalie being on such a tear. Over his last 16 days, going back to that starting assignment in Saint Paul -- his first game action in nine days -- Johnson has started eight of 10 games. Over that span, he has been lights-out going 6-2-0 with a 1.50 GAA, .951 SV% and 3 shutouts.

2. Just seven weeks into the season, three shutouts is a career high for Johnson. He had two in 27 games in 2013-14 with the Boston Bruins while being the caddy for Tuukka Rask.

3. Dating back to his NHL debut as a member of the New York Rangers on December 30, 2009, Johnson had recorded four career shutouts in the span of 2,512 days (6 years, 10 months, 16 days). That was through November 14, 2016. In 16 days since that point, he has three shutouts.

4. League wide, Johnson's three shutouts are tied for second. It's one less than Devan Dubnyk, but one more than the likes of Carey Price, Corey Crawford and Martin Jones.

5. Last Flames goalie to record three shutouts in a season was Miikka Kiprusoff. That was five years ago in 2011-12 when the Finn had four shutouts in 70 games. Johnson has three in 13 games. Last year, Calgary had just three as a team -- one each for Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio.

Last Flames goalie not named Kiprusoff to record three shutouts in a season was Roman Turek (4) in 2003-04.

6. As good as he's been in the latter half of November, getting some league-wide recognition when the NHL's three stars of the month are announced later this morning will be tough. Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Montreal's Carey Price have also been excellent:
  • Rinne NSH - 9-1-2, 1.49 GAA, .949 SV%, 1 SO
  • Price MTL - 8-2-1, 1.81 GAA, .944 SV%, 2 SO
  • Johnson CGY - 7-3-0, 1.80 GAA, .939 SV%, 3 SO

7. On the season, here's where Johnson sits among the NHL leaders (minimum of 8 games, 44 goalies qualify):
  • 25th with 13 starts (Talbot, 22)
  • 26th with 785:24 minutes played (Talbot, 1290:25)
  • 16th with 8 wins (Price, 13)
  • 12th with .654 winning pct (Price, .844)
  • 2nd in shutouts (Dubnyk, 4)
  • 10th with 2.06 GAA (Rask, 1.64)
  • 10th with .930 SV% (Price, .947)
  • 10th with .938 even-strength SV%  (Price, .958)

Focus in on the period starting November 15 and he has been elite:
  • 1st with 8 starts (eight tied at 7)
  • 1st with 478:39 minutes played (next is Mason, 425:18)
  • 1st with 6 wins (tied with Allen)
  • 1st with 3 shutouts (next is Hellebuyck, 2)
  • 1st with 1.50 GAA (next is Ward, 1.59)
  • 1st with .951 SV% (next is Luongo, .949)
  • 4th with .950 even-strength SV% (Luongo, .960)

8. As noted on the weekend in this piece, this is a larger sample size than most fans realize also. Going back to November 1 of last season -- so that's a period of 13 months -- Johnson has the best save percentage in the league behind only Carey Price.

That's pretty impressive stuff and for skeptics, that's a 49-game sample size too. Not bad. Plus, with the Buffalo Sabres and now the Flames, he's hardly doing it while playing behind an ironclad blueline.

Final Word

As condensed as the Flames schedule has been lately -- November ended with 10 games in that much talked about 16-day span including three back-to-backs -- a flipping of the calendar finally sees the team get a little bit of room to breathe and rest.

In the first 18 days of December, Calgary plays only seven times with no back-to-backs. While Brian Elliott was good in Long Island in his last start, it makes one wonder when Johnson relinquishes the crease again. It may not be for a while and it would be hard to fault Gulutzan for riding the hot hand.

Since signing his entry-level contract on July 18, 2009, after completing four full seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Johnson has had nothing but short-term deals. Here's the year-to-year breakdown of his NHL annual average value over his career:
  • 2009-10 - $850K on 1st of 2-year deal, signed by NY Rangers
  • 2010-11 - $850K on 2nd of 2-year deal
  • 2011-12 - $525K on 1-year deal, re-signed by NY Rangers
  • 2012-13 - $600K on 1-year deal, signed by Arizona
  • 2013-14 - $600K on 1-year deal, signed by Boston
  • 2014-15 - $1.3M on 1st of 2-year deal, signed by NY Islanders
  • 2015-16 - $1.3M on 2nd of 2-year deal
  • 2016-17 - $1.7M on 1-year deal, signed by Calgary

Per Cap Friendly, Johnson is the 36th highest-paid goalie in terms of AAV this season. As we near the one-third mark in the season, he is certainly making a case to climb up that list significantly for next season and maybe, just maybe, finally sign a deal that gives him some security.

Is Calgary, the same city he grew up in and played his minor hockey, finally a place where the Bow Valley minor hockey association grad can hang up his jacket and stay a while? Sure looks like it.

The Flames need a goalie for at least one more season and signing one for 2-3 years would be prudent as they continue to groom top prospect Jon Gillies in the minors. While four months ago, one would have assumed that choice would be Elliott -- also on an expiring contract -- Johnson has certainly changed the conversation.

It's been fun to watch and for a guy labelled a career back-up, who has had to fight through that, all the credit to him.

By the way, have you liked Flames From 80 Feet on Facebook yet? Go there and do so now. It's just another way to be alerted to new Calgary Flames articles that I've written.


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