During a playoff run that was filled with positives for the Colorado Avalanche, one thing fans were quick to criticize was the play of veteran defender Erik Johnson. After leading all Avalanche blue liners in ice time over the regular season and playing against the opposition's top line nearly every shift, the 31-year old saw his play decline significantly during the post season. His ice time fell though the San Jose series to the point that head coach Jared Bednar started dressing a seventh defender in order to save Johnson for penalty kill minutes. He wasn’t his usual physical presence in front of the net and started making the kind of mistakes we aren't used to seeing from him. Johnson simply didn’t look like the same player during the playoffs and now we know why.
Earlier this week Erik Johnson underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder to repair tissue in and around the joint. Apparently the injury was sustained at some point during the Calgary series.
Johnson was able to play through the pain but very obviously wasn’t the same big-minute defender we had become accustomed to seeing. There are fans that were quick to place the blame for his poor play on his age - that we were witnessing the rapid decline of a player that has been one of the most reliable in the league over the past few years. News of this injury should put most of that to rest.
Johnson is an invaluable part of this Avalanche lineup. He plays more than any other defender on the team and is the stabling force on the penalty kill. He has served as a mentor for Samual Girard both on and off the ice and with the addition of Cale Makar and a few other youngsters next season, Johnson’s veteran presence in the dressing room will continue to be incredibly important.
There is no timeline for his recovery, but Johnson is expected to be as good as new and ready for the start of next season.