BUFFALO – For the last few weeks, the starts have come less frequently for Chad Johnson. After playing 32 of the first 56 games, the Sabres goalie has played one of the last 10 contests with No. 1 Robin Lehner healthy and finding a groove.
Johnson, who will start Monday’s tilt in Toronto, hasn’t played since stopping 24 shots in the Sabres’ 3-1 win Feb. 26 in San Jose.
Of course, Johnson understands his role as a No. 2 netminder. Still, after earning so much action earlier this season, sitting recently has been “different,” Johnson said.
“It’s been tough playing probably once every two weeks, especially after playing (two out of three like) I was doing early on, getting in a lot of games, getting in a rhythm,” he said this afternoon. “It is tough not being able to sort of keep things going.”
Johnson, 29, has posted strong numbers this season, going 14-14-3 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in a career-high 33 games (29 starts). His career numbers against the Maple Leafs – 2-0-1, 2.02, .924 – are terrific.
It was believed the Sabres would try to deal Johnson, an unrestricted free agent following the season, before Monday’s trade deadline.
“Monday was anxious, exciting kind of day,” he said. “A lot of unknowns.”
He added: “It was a very stressful day.”
Johnson’s happy he’s still here. His tenure with the Sabres could be over in a few months, however.
“For moving forward, contract-wise, playing time, whether that’s a good spot for me next year, I’ll have to deal with that when the time comes in the summer,” he said.
The Sabres had an optional practice this morning inside the First Niagara Center. Coach Dan Bylsma said there are no new injuries.