BUFFALO – To Chad Johnson, his weak numbers are deceiving. Other than a poor 20-minute outing, the Sabres goalie believes he has played well this season.
Naturally, Johnson is frustrated. In 12 games, he is 1-5-3 with a ghastly 3.76 goals-against average and an .880 save percentage, his lone win coming Oct. 15.
Among goalies with 10 or more appearances this season, only Vegas Golden Knights rookie Maxime Lagace has a higher goals-against average and a lower save percentage.
Still, Johnson, who has received little goal support, said he feels fine.
“Pucks don’t bounce your way and games just don’t go your way, and for me, it seems like there’s been more of those than not,” he said this morning inside KeyBank Center.
Other than a weak goal former teammate Tyler Ennis scored Nov. 22, a contest Johnson allowed three early goals before getting pulled, he wouldn’t change too much.
“I’m looking at situations where I’m not like, ‘How would I do (it) different, how would I play it differently?’” he said. “A lot of times you play the same thing, you just try to make a big save. It’s easy after the fact to say, ‘Oh, you should’ve done this, you should’ve put your glove here.’”
He added: “I know my abilities and I’m confident in my abilities.”
Johnson’s recent body of work is strong. A year ago at this time, he was coming off a torrid 11-2-0 stretch with the Calgary Flames. During his first run here in 2015-16, he morphed into the Sabres’ unsung hero, posting terrific numbers – 22-16-4, 2.36 and .920 – in 45 games.
This year, however, has been tough.
“I don’t know what to say, I got to start going to hockey church or something like that,” Johnson joked.
The affable Johnson, who always seems to be smiling, said “it takes a lot of work” to remain positive these days.
“I’m definitely a guy that can get frustrated pretty easily,” said Johnson, who made 29 saves in Friday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Carolina subbing for Robin Lehner. “I’m an extremely competitive guy. …
“Sometimes it’s good just watching other hockey games, watching other goalies play and … sometimes they’re playing bad games and they’re winning. Sometimes goalies play good games and they’re losing.”
In difficult times, Johnson leans on his family, including his fraternal twin brother, Curtis, and Sabres goalie coach Andrew Allen.
Johnson trusts Allen, whose presence helped lure him back to Buffalo on a one-year deal.
“Watching other games, watching other goalies, having Andrew here watching video tape, going over goals, talking with him, especially just to keep me positive about where my game is at, is key for myself,” Johnson said.
During a recent video session, Allen jokingly told Johnson to “change your game, play completely different.”
“Because at the end of the day,” Johnson said, “it’s like, don’t do anything different.”
Lehner will start tonight against the Boston Bruins.