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Johnson continues to shine in net

The Flames netminder has turned in a 7-3-1 record this season

by Torie Peterson @ToriePeterson / CalgaryFlames.com

BOSTON, MA -- Looking back on Chad Johnson's career, the kind of performances he has been turning in on a nightly basis shouldn't come as a surprise.

Heading into his first season with his hometown Calgary Flames, Johnson had a 50-30-11 record with a 2.39 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Very respectable numbers for a goaltender who heard his name called by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round, 125th overall, at the 2006 NHL Draft and has been in a back-up role for most of his time in the league.

He has had commendable runs in New York, Arizona and Boston but perhaps the best indicator of his talent is his play in Buffalo last year.

When injuries opened up the door for him to play more minutes, Johnson was able to put together a 22-16-4 record with a 2.36 GAA and a .920 save percentage with the Sabres, a club that struggled last season and ended up finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference.

"Last year for me was big, in playing a lot of games," he said. "I've always had confidence in my game, it's just that you've just got to wait for the opportunity. I was behind some good goaltenders, with Tuukka [Rask], Henrik [Lundqvist] and other good names there.

"It's hard to get that next step there - it's understandable. I understand that. I've always moved on to new spots to try and get that next step, that opportunity. It's tough to get. There's a lot of good goalies in this league. You've just got to be in the right situation.

"I believe that. You've got to wait for the opportunity."

The opportunity has presented itself this season.

Johnson has started 11 games this season, going 7-3-1, and has gotten the nod in six of the last seven skates. In that six-game run, the 30-year-old boasts a 5-1-0 record and has allowed just seven goals on 165 shots - good for a .956 save percentage.

Video: CGY@BOS: Johnson stretches for impressive skate save

The netminder is coming off two of his best performances of the season, posting a 34-save shutout in Columbus on Wednesday and making 35 stops in a 2-1 Flames victory in Boston on Friday. Both of those wins showcased Johnson's strengths - his simple, structured style and an unflappable demeanour.

"That's my game - I'm positional, I'm technical. I work hard in the summers to be that, to be technical. It carries over, obviously, into the games. I think the guys are just doing a good job and I'm getting results, that's the thing. I think when you get results, your game gets some attention I guess. When you lose, people always find little things to look at.  

"I've felt great all year and that's my game - simple, in position, try to make it easy and not scramble too much there. Give the team confidence and make the saves I'm supposed to. That consistency is why I've been in this league, I think."

Not only has Johnson gotten into a groove with his new team but he is also found a rhythm with his defence corps. They have been giving him sight lines on the initial shots and between Johnson's rebound control and the defencemen shutting down second chances in front of their netminder.

"He's been fantastic," Glen Gulutzan said after the win in Boston. "I do give our guys credit though, for limiting the rebound chances against him. He's making the first save, which you need, he's given us great goaltending there. And then our guys are limiting those second chances. It's a good combination right now."

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