September 20, 2011 1:17 pm

Will this be a `plus’ season for Johnson?

As long as Drew Doughty remains unsigned and out of training camp, the Kings’ highest-profile defensive pairing will be that of Jack Johnson and Rob Scuderi. Those two have been partners, off and on, for the past two seasons and, according to Terry Murray, this is a big season for Johnson to take a step forward. Johnson totaled a career-high 42 points last season, but his infamous and oft-debated plus-minus rating went from minus-15 to minus-21. Murray talked about Johnson’s development last season and what he would like to see from the defenseman in 2011-12…

MURRAY: “He took some big strides early. In the first half, he was one of the top-scoring defensemen in the league. I thought his play without the puck was really good. He tailed off in the second part. That plus-minus number is something that I look at, and it started to build up again. To me, when I look at his game, I think he got away from being a real hard player to play against, in the sense of being physical. That’s one of the areas that I wanted to talk to him at the end of the season (about), and he was out of town right away for the World Championships. So I haven’t had that meeting yet, but that will be the message. `It’s time to get back to being that hard guy, making sure you’re pinning and sealing.’ And I think that ends the play. Too often, in the second half, there was a little bit of stick-checking and backing off, giving a little bit too much space. Because he’s out there against the top guys, and that’s all those guys need, is one foot to make a play and things were happening around him.”

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