Kent Johnson a Healthy Scratch, Again, for the Blue Jackets Game in Montreal

By Coby Maeir on October 26, 2023 at 10:17 am
Kent Johnson
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, Blue Jackets forward Kent Johnson is a healthy scratch as Columbus faces the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday.

Johnson, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 Draft, has scored 1-1--2 in five games this season after posting 16-24--40 in 79 contests as a rookie in 2022-23. 

Ahead of the season-opener against the Flyers, Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent explained why he was an extra skater in practice leading up to their first regular season game. 

"His adapting to what we're trying to do is a little bit slower," Vincent said. “It's not against him [or] his style of play. I don't want to change him whatsoever."

Later on, Vincent said that players have to continue evolving in order to win.

"In KJ’s case," Vincent said. "That's the pace. Like just the pace and going and going. And I know he's going to bring it. He can, like this morning at practice, he was one of our best players. So it's good to see. But it's not that I didn't like his camp, I think there is more pace to him. But his training was right. He's doing everything right. It's just that like I said earlier, we have to make a decision and only 20 guys can play.”

The main theme from Vincent clearly seems to be Johnson's pace, especially after he played just 6:22 at five-on-five in Tuesday's overtime loss to Anaheim. 

According to NHL EDGE's puck and player tracking data, the Blue Jackets have been one of the league's fastest teams this season, ranking third in max speed (23.50 mph) and fourth in 20+ mph bursts with 183.

While Johnson has game-changing skills and playmaking abilities, speed is not his strong suit. His 20.04 mph top skating speed and one speed burst over 20 mph are both below the 50th percentile of NHL skaters. 

Is Johnson's pace going to be a long-term issue? It shouldn't be, as there are plenty of players in the league who aren't fast skaters that impact the game in a big way. 

Johnson is at his best when the puck is on his stick and he can play east-to-west hockey, which doesn't exactly jive well with how the Jackets are playing early on. 

Quite frankly, Johnson hasn't had the best start to the season, so in addition to the pace issues, the fact that he's being scratched isn't completely outlandish. According to, Johnson's individual expected goals at five-on-five per 60 minutes this season is 0.25, less than half of the 0.51 ixG/60 he posted last season.

It's also important to note that Johnson just turned 21 last week, and it's normal for there to be ups and downs early in a player's career, even for a player as talented as him.

Vincent is doing what he thinks will give the Blue Jackets the best chance to win games. So far, the team is 0-1-0 when Johnson is out of the lineup and 3-1-1 when he plays. Will they be able to win in Montreal without him? We'll see.

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