Over the last five years, the biggest key to the Los Angeles Kings improving and becoming a perennial contender was their play on defense. General manager Dean lombardi went out and strengthened his team's blueline since then. One of the players he traded for was Jack Johnson, who is a staple on Los Angeles' back end.
In terms of goal production, Johnson had three fewer this season than his eight in 2009-10. However, he did six better in points, finishing the 2010-11 campaign with 42.
It's safe to say that Johnson's role on the Kings is not to put the puck in the net but, having said that, he is capable of capitalizing every now and then. Johnson does know how to set up his teammates and create plays by opening up the opposition of finding gaps on the ice. Although he is very skilled defensively, Johnson's 2010-11 saw multiple times where he had a terrible habit of lazily giving the puck away either in the neutral zone or, worse, his own zone.
Johnson was as healthy as a horse this season as he played in all 82 games. He received four fewer penalty minutes this season which makes his discipline a shade better. One down side was that he went from a -15 rating in 2009-10 to a -21 this season.
In his first trip to the playoffs last spring against the Canucks, Johnson recorded seven assists in six games. He did pick up his first-career playoff goal this spring against San Jose while adding four assists for a total of five points in six games against the Sharks. His playoff total decreased by a couple of points but still a good showing nonetheless.
Johnson's total power play markers were equal as he had three goals with the man-advantage in each of the last two seasons. Johnson also did better with his shot total this past season as his 153 shots on goal this past season were a steady improvement from his 130 in 2009-10.
The Indianapolis native's carelessness with the puck this season definitely showed on the stats sheet as, in 2010-11, Johnson committed 73 giveaways, which pales in comparison to the 59 he gave away the season before. Johnson did record 20 takeaways this past season, which was four better than his total in 2009-10.
For a defenseman, Johnson is still a force in the shootout but it's his play on special team that has been the most significant improvement. In 2009-10, Johnson recorded 13 points on the power play. This past season, his points total shot up to 28. Even shorthanded, Johnson may have only recorded a single assist in 2010-11 but it was one better than his total on the penalty-kill the season before.
Overall, I do not worry about the development of Jack Johnson. At 24, he still has a lot of learning to do even though he is well on his way to become a bona fide leader in the league. There's not much excuse for Johnson's careless ways this past season. In fact, there is no excuse. Still, that's no reason to throw red paint all over #3. It's unpleasant but it is, in truth, a learning curve.
In addition, his play this year at the World Hockey Championships for his native USA is definitely helping his game. I am confident of Jack Johnson's resilience and I fully expect him to arrive at Kings training camp this September rearing to go and better than ever.