|Left out: Aaron Johnson making best of tough situation||05.12.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
TORONTO — Hey, remember Aaron Johnson?
With the Bruins definitely without one lefty defenseman in Andrew Ference in Game 6 and potentially without another in Wade Redden, the left-shooting Johnson — on paper — would appear to be a logical option for Claude Julien. Johnson’s been skating with the team regularly as he waits for his opportunity, though it’s one that won’t likely come.
Said Johnson Sunday: “I have been skating every day and playing every day and doing whatever possible, other than playing in game situations.”
And that’s the conundrum. It’s been a whole lot of “other than playing in game situations” for Johnson, as the last time he played in a game was on March 30. The Bruins wanted to send him to Providence late in the season in order to get him into some games, but they weren’t able to send him down for a conditioning assignment without having to put him through the waiver process.
Now that they could use him, that lack of game action makes him borderline untouchable (unless as a last resort) in the playoffs, as the Bruins simply can’t trust someone who’s played so little in such a key spot.
“It’s been tough for Aaron,” Julien said. “For me, it’s about what players are allowed and not allowed to do. We would have loved to give him an opportunity to play and play in Providence, but the CBA doesn’t allow it, and it’s kind of played against him and right now we have a player that hasn’t played in a long time. It’s tough for him.”
With Matt Bartkowski figuring to play in place of the injured Ference, the Bruins would be left with Johnson and Dougie Hamilton as potential replacements for Redden if the veteran blueliner (termed a game-time decision by Julien) can’t go.
In that case, the right-shooting Hamilton would get the call over Johnson based on the fact that he’s sharper. Hamilton played more regular-season games and has gotten into one playoff game already, though Game 2 created issues that would likely arise again if the rookie plays Sunday.
Because Hamilton would be replacing a left-shot, the Bruins would need to take Dennis Seidenberg off the top pairing to give them another left-side defenseman. That didn’t work out in Game 2, when the B’s played their defensive game of the series and Seidenberg was on the ice for three goals against. Playing Johnson would avoid having to break up that shutdown pairing, but it would also bring too much uncertainty to such an important game.
Johnson, who understands his situation but hasn’t moaned about it, stayed out longer for the morning skate with the rest of the healthy scratches Sunday. He knows that Sunday would have been a potential opportunity for him to play, but that his lack of games (12 in the regular season between Boston and Providence and none in over a month) makes his chances remote. If he does get the call, he’s certain that rust won’t be a factor.
“I think it’s just a matter for myself, staying ready, if that call does come to just play my game,” Johnson said. “I mean, I’ve played this game for a long time now, 10 years professionally. There’s no secret recipe. You just kind of go out and play your game. Obviously it will be a little faster in [the postseason], but I think when that happens, you just try to keep it simple.”
|Andrew Ference suspension leaves Bruins with choice to make on defense||05.02.13 at 6:37 pm ET|
After a completely one-sided contest in Game 1, things got interesting Thursday in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Bruins and Maple Leafs when B’s defenseman Andrew Ference was suspended for Game 2 for an illegal hit to the head of Toronto forward Mikhail Grabovski.
Ference was viewed as a repeat offender because his last suspension (the only other one of his 13-year career) came within the past 18 months — he was suspended for three games last January for his hit on Ryan McDonagh.
You can say all you wanted about Ference’s start to the season — which was not good — but he recovered well and is once again one of the more important and underrated pieces for the B’s. His absence isn’t something to overlook, and if the Maple Leafs plan on showing up for Game 2 (a big “if” after they chose not to Wednesday), it could be a closer game than the 4-1 drubbing the B’s gave the Leafs.
Without Ference, the Bruins have two options: There’s Dougie Hamilton, who played in 42 of the Bruins’ 48 regular-season games, and there’s Aaron Johnson.
While Hamilton’s name might come to mind first because of his offensive skill and the fact that he’s, well, Dougie Hamilton, don’t rule out Johnson. The 30-year-old is a left shot like Ference and could either slide into Ference’s spot on the pairing with Johnny Boychuk or play with Adam McQuaid, allowing Wade Redden to move onto Boychuk’s pairing.
The issue with Johnson is that he’s likely rusty after playing in only 10 regular season games, the most recent of which was over a month ago on March 30 against the Flyers.
Hamilton being in the lineup would give the B’s a bit of a predicament from a pairing standpoint. With Dennis Seidenberg playing on the right side with Zdeno Chara as part of the top pairing, that would give the Bruins three right-shot defensemen in their other two pairings. Perhaps Hamilton being in the lineup would force Claude Julien to break up the Chara-Seidenberg pairing to allow Seidenberg to go back to the left side on another pairing, with Hamilton skating with either Chara or Seidenberg, but would the Bruins really want to break up that top pairing given how effective it was in Game 1?
So those are the Bruins’ two options: Play the more talented rookie — but one who looked more and more like a rookie in the second half of the season — who would likely cause a bit of shuffling among the defensemen. Or, play the veteran who hasn’t been in the lineup in over a month. Those aren’t the best options, but just remember that Shane Hnidy at the very end of his career played three games in the playoffs in 2011, getting just 3:09 of ice time per game, and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup that postseason. Losing Ference is bigger than you might think, but it isn’t the end of the world.
|Bruins recall Aaron Johnson, send David Warsofsky to Providence||01.20.13 at 11:11 am ET|
The Bruins announced Sunday that they have sent defenseman David Warsofsky to Providence and recalled blueliner Aaron Johnson.
Johnson, who was signed in the offseason after playing last season with the Blue Jackets, was sent to Providence on a conditioning loan Thursday. He played two games for Providence during the loan, registering one assist.
Warsofsky, a native of Marshfield and a Boston University product, played in 30 games for Providence prior to attending Bruins’ training camp. He has two goals and seven assists for nine points at the AHL level this season.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Aaron Johnson eager to help Bruins however he can||01.10.13 at 5:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — While Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Daniel Paille were the most notable additions to Thursday’s informal practice at Ristuccia Arena, there was one more new guy in attendance. An actual new guy.
Defenseman Aaron Johnson, who was signed to a two-way contract in the offseason after spending last season in Columbus, made his Ristuccia debut on Thursday, a day after going out to dinner with Shawn Thornton and a number of other Bruins teammates.
Johnson, 29, was signed to be a depth guy for the B’s, but if Adam McQuaid (who is still recovering from blood clot surgery but has been on the ice in recent weeks) is unable to go at the start of the season, Johnson could be in the rotation for the B’s.
In 56 games for the Blue Jackets last season, Johnson had three goals and 13 assists for 16 points and a very Blue Jackets-esque minus-12 rating. He said the Bruins weren’t the only option for him this offseason, but choosing them proved to be an easy decision.
“There was a number of teams, but I just think the experience here and the fact that they won a Stanley Cup and still have a lot of those guys, I think it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I’m just trying to come in and help as much as possible.
“I think the history speaks for itself here,” he added. “As soon as they came on the list, it was pretty much close the door and sign the contract because when a team like this comes along, you want to jump in and be a part of it.”
|Bruins add more defensive depth, sign Aaron Johnson||07.18.12 at 2:25 pm ET|
The Bruins have signed defenseman Aaron Johnson to a one-year, two-way contract.
Johnson, 29, played 56 games for the Blue Jackets last year, registering three goals and 16 assists for a career-best 19 points. He had a minus-12 rating.
Johnson has bounced around in the league since being drafted by Columbus in 2001, as he played in the Islanders, Blackhawks, Oilers, Predators and Flames organizations before returning to the Blue Jackets last season.
The former third-round pick played the entire 2010-11 season in the AHL for the Milwaukee Admirals, notching nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points and 70 penalty minutes. He had a plus-10 rating in the AHL in 2010-11.
The fact that the Bruins have now signed a few fringe-NHL blueliners in Johnson, Garnet Exelby and brought back Matt Bartkowski without signing any true top-6 defensemen suggests that the team is indeed expecting Dougie Hamilton to make the team next season. Any one of the aforementioned three signings could serve as a seventh defenseman at the NHL level.
- Public Skate: Bruins vs. Rangers, 7:30 PM ET
- 3 Questions With... Blueshirt Banter's Kevin Power
- Fresh Links: The Wrong Garden Edition
- Game 3 Preview: Bruins vs. Rangers. MSG. No Seidenberg after all. Let's...
- Tuesday Morning Skate: Gameday
- AHL Calder Cup Playoffs: Providence Bruins can't solve Brad Thiessen,...
- Fresh Links: High Gear Edition