Nashville Predators got caught by Ryan Johansen
The Predators bit the dust last night, as we all suspected. The Avalanche are just too much, the Preds were a wobbly team whose best player on both sides is a defenseman, Roman Josi, because he has to be. Throughout their existence, which amounts to nearly 25 years now, the Predators have searched for a real, authentic No. 1 center. They got a taste of what can be done in this series as Nathan MacKinnon scored in every game and was essentially unplayable for the Preds (a 66% share in both Corsi and expected goals).
Of course, it might not have been such a problem if the Preds’ excuse for a No. 1 center, Ryan Johansen, was not in his fifth straight year of stealing time.
There’s not much evidence that old No. 92 participated in this series. The box scores indicate he was there, but you won’t remember it no matter how much of four games you watched. Records indicate he had two assists and two shots on goal during the entire series. Again, there is little remembrance of this, but it will go down in history thanks to the stat sheets. This is one of those cases where the box scores won’t tell you the true meaning of something. In this case, that meaning was dog and shit.
It might be wise to educate yourself on the history of RyJo in Nashville. He arrived with much fanfare, as the organization and the Smashville fanbase were so desperate to finally have a true kingpin on the team. They had never seen one, but they had heard stories of what having one could do for them. They were so desperate that they ditched Seth Jones for the privilege. And, as he always is because no hockey writer ever wants to speak ill of him (fearing he won’t get his golden ticket to the bars and singles of Broadway), general manager David Poile has was hailed as a genius. And it remains true today as it did then, David Poile brought more sex the criminals in Nashville whether it has cups or combined divisional championships. And yet, the hockey world doesn’t want to throw rose petals at their feet instead of leg locks.
And Johansen was just cunning enough to fool them for a season. Because you see, he was in a contract year. Columbus already knew this. John Tortorella, even through the fog of rage with which he walked through each day, could see that Johansen was not worth the investment. So they let him bitch and drop tools on his way to Tennessee. They were never going to pay him.
And Johansen played for this 2016-2017 season. He had 13 points in 14 playoff games before being injured as the Preds made their one and only trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Maybe it was great to bail out halfway through that race. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. Johansen played all of Nashville because they could tell they would have beaten the Penguins had only Johansen was healthy and present. And convince themselves that they had to make sure he was there next time. Yeah…next time.
So Poile rushed to hand him an eight-year, $64 million deal, a big deal five years ago. He’s still the Preds’ best forward. Finally, Poile had solved it. Preds fans would no longer have to look enviously at the MacKinnons, Crosbys and Barkovs of the world. They had theirs.
And Johansen has been an asshole ever since. Sixty-four64 points is the best he has ever managed, which is good for a second-line center. But not a great guy. And when it matters most, you won’t find this guy with satellite imagery and an advanced team. He has accumulated the points that find him, not those that he finds. He’s a more well-fed Ryan Getzlaf, floating on the outside and letting his natural talent draw just enough points to dodge criticism, never really taking things by the scruff of the neck or putting himself on the line or carrying a team. to all that matters. He will get all the points he can reach with his fork in the locker room.
This last streak was his palooka hit, as he racked up a 22% Corsi and expected goal share as Nazem Kadri swirled him for four straight games.
Is Johansen embarrassed? Nah, he got his check. And in these days when corporations and billionaires have moved society to an irreparable place, perhaps it’s time for a change of perspective. We should no longer consider Johansen a waste of money or a spot on the roster, or lament what he might be if he could just be bothered doing it. No, maybe it’s time we just appreciate someone embezzling a lot of money from someone much richer (who won’t miss it) to do nothing. It’s full-scale time theft, the kind we only dream of. He wins in a way most would kill.
One of our most famous lines in recent memory: “Look at my cousin, he’s broke and doing nothing.” Since office space, one of our most beloved works, it was a dream of not being able to do anything and getting away with it. Well, Johansen is somebody’s cousin. He’s far from broke and he doesn’t do anything either.
Well done, my boy. You continue to be an inspiration.