On Wednesday I caught up with Blues defenseman Erik Johnson and got his thoughts on how the season is going... and which player likes turkey the most!
RLD: What have you seen from the team through the first quarter of the year? Erik Johnson: I think we’ve been, for the majority, pretty consistent. Obviously we went on a pretty good run with seven or eight wins, then lost three or four in a row. The first half of the season is pretty critical to get off to a good start and put yourself in a good situation when the second half comes. There’s some things we can work on. I think we’ve been pretty happy with our play, but obviously they’re not handing out any awards right now, so we have to make sure we keep this going. RLD: How do you feel about your personal game right now? EJ: It’s good… I’m trying to stay within the team concept and team system. Obviously I’m relied on for my offense and I haven’t been putting too many pucks in the back of the net right now, but I just have to stick with it and I can’t force anything.
RLD: Between Halak and Conklin, goaltending been pretty solid? EJ: Really good. They’ve been rocks back there. We’ve probably got one of the best goalies in the league, probably the best tandem in the league. They’ve been consistent for us all year and have given us a chance to win every game.
RLD: How have you guys dealt with the injuries? Perron and Oshie, and then not many people talking about the defensemen… EJ: Everyone has injuries and no one feels sorry for anyone. You just have to fill guys in in spots where guys went down and people need to step up into those roles. So far guys have done a good job with that. Those are key guys out of our lineup, but at the same time, you gotta plug guys in and stop the leaking.
RLD: What do you guys need to do to be a better team on the road? EJ: Obviously last year I think we were one of the best teams on the road and one of the worst teams at home. So we’re undefeated (in regulation) at home right now and we have to transit that to the road. Going on the road is tough, but it’s something we were good at last year and hopefully we can get that going this year and become a good home and road team.
RLD: What do you see in this division? Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Nashville… it seems like everyone’s winning every night. EJ: It seems like everyone’s gonna make the playoffs. It’s a deep division with a lot of good young players. It’s fun to play in that division with those kind of rivalries and it’s going to be a battle to end of the year.
RLD: What was the experience like with Team USA? EJ: It was great. Obviously making it to the gold medal game, one goal away from a gold medal was a great experience, a great atmosphere to be in. Representing your country on that stage is pretty unbelievable. It was a good moment, a good accomplishment, and I was really lucky to be there.
RLD: Thanksgiving is coming up… who in the locker room will eat the most turkey? EJ: (Laughs)… Probably Carlo Colaiacovo. He’s probably the guy on our team that is cut like a bag of milk and knows no one is giving him any trophies for his body… so he’s probably taking all the turkey he can get.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.