February 5, 2013 10:20 am

Jack Johnson, the “horse” in Columbus

Jack Johnson recorded 34:59 of ice time in Columbus’ 4-2 win over Detroit on Saturday night. This I learned, thanks to a tweet by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, was the most minutes logged in a regular season NHL game since Dan Boyle of Tampa Bay took the ice for 37:03 in a game against Boston on February 23, 2008.

With injuries to several key Blue Jackets defensemen, Johnson is likely to again see upwards of 30 minutes of playing time tonight against the Kings. He was a popular figure in the Columbus’ locker room this morning, and took some time to speak with LA Kings Insider about his experience in Ohio’s capital.

Jack Johnson, on how the Buckeye fans have treated a Michigan man:
“Oh, they’ve been awesome, actually. I was expecting my fair share of kidding, and I’ve gotten that, but honestly they couldn’t have been nicer. I went to the Michigan – Ohio State game, and everyone’s welcomed me with open arms. It’s pretty overwhelming, actually.”

Johnson, on whether he flies a Michigan flag at home in Columbus:
“I’ve got Michigan license plates. I’ll hang my Michigan flag on Football Saturdays. I actually grew up a big Andy Katzenmoyer fan, who was a middle linebacker for Ohio State. I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Ohio State. Everyone’s treated me better than I could’ve asked for.”

Johnson, on playing against the Kings and scoring a goal in a win over L.A. last March:
“At the time, it was a huge win for us, just because we were trying to end the season on the right note. We approached that game like every other game. I had been here long enough that who we were playing wasn’t an issue. It’s always nice to score a goal, obviously.”

Johnson, on providing an example for a young D-corps with his ice time:
“I hope so. You’d have to ask them. I mean, I have fun playing. I want to play. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. The extra minutes and everything – I love being out there. Unfortunately, those guys are out. It would be a lot easier to play these games with these guys than without ‘em. But those cards were dealt, and we’ve got to make due.”

Johnson, on what Columbus is looking to accomplish at this point in the shortened season:
“We don’t get a lot of time to practice, so we’re learning on the job, so to speak. We got a chance to practice yesterday and work on our defensive zone coverage and just clean up a few things. Situations came up where there was some uncertainty, and you try to clean it up as much as you can. Other than that, you’ve got to just play hockey and make the right reads and at the end of the day, you’ve got to make more plays than the other team.”

Johnson, on what came together in the win over Detroit on Saturday:
“Well, I think that we were winning our one-on-one battles, a lot of times that makes a huge difference in the game. If you have the puck more than they do, you’re probably going to win the hockey game. I think that our team just really wanted it, and I think it was more of a mindset than anything, that we went out with the mindset that we weren’t going to lose at home again. I think that was the difference.”

Johnson, on whether he keeps in contact with his former teammates:
“I haven’t talked to any of the guys since the season started. I talked to a couple of guys during the summer and during the lockout, congratulated a few of ‘em. I talked to a couple guys during the lockout, but that’s about it.”

Blue Jackets Associate Coach Craig Hartsburg, a former All-Star defenseman, on Johnson:
“He’s a horse. Physically, he’s a great skater, but he’s conditioned and strong. But he’s been good. We certainly ask a lot of him right now with four defensemen out of the lineup. He’ll get a ton of ice time again here tonight, and he’s extremely hard worker and competitive player, so obviously he’s a big part of our team.”

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