October 17, 2009 6:46 am

Johnson's big minutes

Jack Johnson leads the Kings in ice time, at an average of 22 minutes, 37 seconds, which puts him eight seconds per game ahead of last season’s leader, Drew Doughty. That’s essentially a tie, but in Johnson’s case, it’s noteworthy, because his play seems to have taken a big step forward this season and because he’s playing more than two minutes more per game than last season.

Johnson, as noted in a previous post, has been more aggressive offensively but also more responsible and effective defensively. Give some credit to his partner, Rob Scuderi, for being a stable partner for Johnson and allowing him to worry less, but according to Terry Murray, also credit Johnson for dropping some weight. I hope to be able to ask Johnson about this today, but apparently Johnson liked the idea of putting on weight before last season, to help him against some of the league’s big forwards. The coaches, by contrast, felt it slowed him down, and now feel he is better equipped for an all-around game…

MURRAY: “He’s doing a lot of good things out there. I really believe, and Jack might disagree, but I really believe the fact that he lost about 10-12 pounds has allowed him to be faster and quicker, close in on people. He’s as strong, and he’s much more effective in just closing space in our own D zone. He’s making really good reads on breakouts as that net D, jumping up to be a part of it. I think we saw it right away in the first period and second period (against the Rangers). He had a great scoring chance. Purcell made a great play to send him in alone, and that’s the kind of play that we want from Jack, and from our defensemen, being that kind of option for the forwards on the attack.

“Then again, on the power play, his agility has improved, I think, because of his 10-12 pound loss. He’s able to get across the blue line and get pucks through. Players earn their ice time with us. We’re not that generous of people to hand it to people when they don’t deserve it.’’

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