Basically since the day they acquired him from Carolina in 2007, the Kings have been attempting to mold Jack Johnson. That’s a testament to the type of raw talent held by Johnson, who just recently turned 25 and hasn’t yet entered what would typically be considered his prime years. What do the numbers say this season? Johnson has eight goals, which is tied with the career best he set two seasons ago, and his shooting percentage is at an all-time high for a full season. Johnson’s assist total is down, and that’s largely a product of a lack of power-play production. Plus-minus, a stat frequently used to track Johnson, is still not great — minus-11 — but would be a career best if he can maintain it. Darryl Sutter, asked about Johnson, gave an in-depth critique.
SUTTER: “It’s sort of full circle for Jack Johnson. I’ve seen him a lot, since college and the international stuff. I’ve seen him lots. He was a high-risk guy, and sometimes there was a reward and sometimes there wasn’t. Then, I think that they really worked with him here at slowing it down, almost to the point where he became a stand-still, back-off guy. Now we’re trying to get him to be more — not a more forceful guy offensively, but to be a quicker guy defensively, so that he has the puck more. So that’s sort of what we’re trying to do. He still goes in and out of it. It’s finding that with him. That’s why we keep it simple. Just try to be physical. I still take issue with heavy teams and how guys play against them. We need them to be in there. That’s a big part of it.’’
Sutter was also asked about whether he would consider a pair of Johnson and Drew Doughty. That was something Terry Murray often tried, and then quickly went away from, believing it wasn’t working. Doughty and Johnson still regularly pair up on the power-play unit.
SUTTER: “It’s not so much them together. It’s then, how does your next mix sort out? One advantage we have with Jack is that he can play both sides. The left-side guys are more defensive, shut-down guys, even though Mitchell has done a good job of joining and getting involved. He’s done a really good job of it. All we’re trying to do with Jack, quite honestly, is trying to get him to be a little more physical and shoot the puck more. If he can do those things, it will make him better and make us better.’’