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Bruins feel they owe Chad Johnson a better game

11.14.13 at 12:53 pm ET
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The Bruins let Chad Johnson down the last time he played. (AP)

The Bruins let Chad Johnson down the last time he played. (AP)

With Chad Johnson set to get his first start of the season at TD Garden, the Bruins are plenty motivated to give him a win. Given what happened the last time he played, they owe it to him.

Johnson hasn’t played since Nov. 2 against the Islanders, which was probably the Bruins’ worst game of their early-season dip. Johnson allowed three goals on 34 shots in a 3-1 loss, but it was the play in front of him that was the Bruins’ undoing. The Bruins gave up odd-man rushes and were dominated by New York’s top line of John Tavares between Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo in a night in which Zdeno Chara was a minus-2.

“That was a terrible outing by us, and Chad works hard and has played well when asked upon,” Chris Kelly said after Thursday’s morning skate. “We want to come out and make the game as easy as possible for him and give him some help.”

The good news for the Bruins is that they have slowly begun to turn the corner since that loss. The B’s have gotten seven of an eight possible points since then, and with a win over the Blue Jackets Thursday they can wrap up their five-game home stand with nine of a possible 10 points.

“I think every game becomes a new challenge, right?” Claude Julien said. “I liked the way we played the last few games; Toronto and obviously Tampa and seeing them turning the corner but that has to continue tonight. I think that’s the challenge that teams have all the time, is not to rely on the fact that you’re playing better lately but fight and keep it going. So I think that’s what everybody’s hoping to be able to do tonight is to keep our team going in the right direction.”

Johnson had said Wednesday that it was tough waiting for his next start given how ugly the last one had been, but the team’s improved play certainly suggests things won’t be as bad Thursday as they were last Saturday.

As for how Johnson has looked this season, he falls under the category of guys who haven’t really been given a chance to hit their stride. He and his teammates know it, as he was less than spectacular in allowing two goals on 16 shots in his Bruins debut against the Sabres. Of course, the Bruins gave him a chance to win in that game — and they did with a 5-2 win — which is far more than could be said for Johnson’s second game.

If there’s any silver lining to that loss going into Thursday, it’s that there’s far less of a chance of the Columbus matchup being a trap game. The Blue Jackets are better than their 6-10-1 record would suggest, and their effort Thursday should be matched by a Bruins team trying to make things up to Johnson.

“We kind of let him down in his second game, against the Islanders,” David Krejci said. “We feel like we owe him one and we’re going to try to do everything we can to get him a win tonight.”

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