THE BALLAD OF JACK JOHNSON


A lot went wrong when the Penguins lost Game 1 to Montreal Saturday night:

  • Goaltender Matt Murray didn’t lose the game, but nor did he win the game.
  • Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined for one point.
  • *ake Guentzel played like Conor Sheary.
  • Conor Sheary also played like Conor Sheary, especially on his penalty shot.
  • Patrick Marleau played like he’d been stuffed and mounted.
  • The fourth line was minus-2, and played more and better than the third line.
  • The Penguins were softer than puppy ***t on a hot summer sidewalk.
  • The Penguins didn’t score five-on-three. Their power play was one-for-seven.

This list could go on forever, which is how you lose a playoff game to the No. 24 seed, and how you lose seven straight playoff games.

But Twitter had it figured: It was Jack Johnson’s fault.

Johnson didn’t cover himself in glory, finishing minus-2. His defensive partnership with Justin Schultz is akin to each being held hostage by the other.

But Johnson wasn’t the main reason the Penguins lost. (I vote for Crosby and Malkin’s combined lack of productivity.) The dopey marks on Twitter, however, resent Johnson’s five-year, $16.25 million contract – they must pretend it’s their money – and have it preordained in their empty heads that everything that goes bad for the Penguins is Johnson’s fault.

You stupid idiots have higher expectations for the third-pair defenseman than you do the two superstar centers.

Johnson was bad. But if Crosby and Malkin produce like they should, Johnson could have played Saturday with his ankles chained together and the Penguins still win.

As far as fans on social media are concerned, Johnson not only lost Saturday’s game, he’s responsible for disappointing postseason exits last year, the year before, and in 1975, '80, ’81, ’82, ’89, ’93 and ’96. (I believe Johnson turned the puck over to Ed Westfall in ’75.)

It’s easier to blame the same guy over and over than it is to watch the game, then evaluate intelligently and objectively.Especially when you're clueless about hockey.

If the Penguins lose this series, their run is over. They are no longer legit contenders. That won’t be Johnson’s fault.

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins

Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins

Image via Getty Images

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