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Tyler Johnson still tailor-made for the Lightning

Tampa Bay’s 5-foot-8 forward plays big on the ice
Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) celebrates his goal against the Detroit Red Wings in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Published May 6, 2019

This is the third in a series this month looking at each player on the Lightning’s roster.

It’s easy to miss Tyler Johnson out on the ice, his 5-foot-8 stature can get lost in the quick action of the game.

But it’s more difficult to miss him on the stat sheet.

Johnson made a point of coming up at the most critical moments. Consider the March 14 night when the Lightning found itself trailing the Red Wings 3-0 on the road. Steven Stamkos ignited the comeback with the first goal and Nikita Kucherov closed it with Tampa Bay’s fifth goal.

Related: RELATED STORY: Yanni Gourde's speed put the Lightning in the fast lane this season

But in between, it was Johnson who provided a crucial goal that gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 advantage. Detroit’s defenders completely overlooked his small frame as he stood just outside of the crease and just in front of the view of goalie Jimmy Howard. Černák’s shot from the blueline was wide by about three feet but it perfectly set Johnson up for a tip in that bounced past Howard.

It was another loud goal for a player with a quiet demeanor. But when it comes to production, it’s one of his most valuable assets and critical contributions. On the year, he placed fourth behind Tampa Bay’s three 40-goal scorers: Stamkos, Kucherov and Brayden Point.

The “small” forward has shown his “large” capabilities as one of Tampa Bay’s strongest players out of the core, putting up steady numbers season after season.

Yet, he’s still the one that’s always overlooked.

Normally people think of the big names - Stamkos, Kucherov, Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy. But do they still consider Johnson one of the top-notch players?

They should.

Related: Victor Hedman's injury amplifies his value to the team.

He has proven himself to work well on the second line, often paired up with Ondřej Palát and Point. Their line alone totaled almost a quarter of Tampa Bay’s goals this season, 78 out of 319.

Johnson also logged two hat tricks this season, both against Carolina. It was the first time he has notched multiple hat tricks in a single season since 2014-15, which was arguably the best season of his career to date.

It’s not every season that a player hits the 20-goal mark, but Johnson makes it look easy, posting the mark four times in his seven-year career. The only seasons he didn’t break that barrier was his first in the league (a meager three goals in 14 games), his 2015-16 season (he only notched 14 in 69 games) and the 2016-17 season, where he scored 19 goals.

It’s nothing to snark at, he has had a productive career with Tampa Bay since his 2012-13 season when he first joined the league.

And while he didn’t break any records this season, franchise or personal, his season overall was the same as it has always been more times than not - consistent and reliable.

Johnson might have quietly climbed his way to 29 goals this season, but that’s nothing that should be overlooked by any means. In fact, it should be one of the most noteworthy takeaways from the Lightning’s roster this season.


Johnson’s season in review:

High: Multiple hat tricks against the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the season.

Low: Only notching one assist in the Lightning’s four-game Round 1 playoff series against the Blue Jackets.

By the numbers:

29 goals, fourth on the roster overall this year

47 points, combined for 29 goals and 18 assists this season

1 short-handed goal, one of six players to notch one this year

15:57 average time on ice, his lowest time since his inaugural season in 2012-13

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) celebrate after he beats Arizona Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill (31) to score the first goal of the game during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The Lightning forward has hovered just below 20 goals for years and finally reached the mark Friday.
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) leads the celebration as players contratulate right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he beat Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) to tie the game 3-3 in the final moments during third period action at Amalie Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 in Tampa. The Lightning went on to win 4 to 3 in the shootout.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay went from sixth place in the Atlantic Division to second behind a 10-game win streak.
  3. Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) gets beaten by a shot from Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (86) as Lightning's Steven Stamkos (91) looks on during first-period NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. [JOHN WOODS  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay pours on the goals with seven total, including two from Nikita Kucherov.
  4. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn (2) celebrates his goal, the first of the game, along with right wing Nikita Kucherov (86), defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and center Tyler Johnson (9) beating New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev (40) during first period action at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Tampa Bay also reassigned Alex Volkov to AHL Syracuse as Pat Maroon returned to the lineup.
  5. Minnesota Wild's Zach Parise (11) tries to control the puck the puck against Tampa Bay Lightning's Jan Rutta (44) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Tampa Bay falls off a recent trend of strong defense and lets Minnesota dictate the game.
  6. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper watches from the bench as his team plays against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in St. Paul, Minn. [HANNAH FOSLIEN  |  AP]
    Even if the play is erased by an earlier offsides, the penalty still must be served.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) in the tunnel before heading out to the ice for warms ups before taking on the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Tampa.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Playing in Minnesota is special for McDonagh, who grew up 12 miles from St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.
  8. Canada's Geneviève Lacasse (31) blocks a shot by United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield (26) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) [MICHAEL DWYER  |  AP]
    Teams representing the United States and Canada will play a 3-on-3 scrimmage as part of the festivities in St. Louis next week.
  9. TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 14: (Editor's Note: Image was digitally altered)  The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Los Angeles Kings fathers, brothers and mentors during the Kings' annual team trip at Amalie Arena on January 14, 2020 in Tampa. (Photo by Casey Brooke Lawson/NHLI via Getty Images) [CASEY BROOKE LAWSON  |  NHLI via Getty Images]
    The Kings are the latest team to bring their annual trip to Tampa. The Capitals and Senators have also done so this year.
  10. Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Alexander Volkov (92) before Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Kings. [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
    Also, Kings’ Jonathan Quick takes a Steven Stamkos one-timer up high.
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