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

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 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.

[ 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.

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