TAMPA, Florida – Moments after he let out a big shriek at his home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Tyler Johnson reached for his phone to text his best friend and longtime teammate, Ondrej Palat.
“you are my hero!” Johnson, now with the Chicago Blackhawks, texted the late Tampa Bay Lightning star after bales cut a 2-2 41.6 second tie before Game Three headed into the seemingly inevitable overtime.
It’s just something we’ve done with each other since our first year as professionals,” Johnson said with a laugh. the athlete Sunday night. “I don’t know, but we always say we’re each other’s hero in scripts.”
A minute later, Johnson heard on ESPN TV that Balat had broken Johnson’s record in Lightning with his 10th playoff win.
Johnson picked up his cell phone again and texted Bales, “Thanks for shouting!”
Within minutes of Palat stripping his sweat-soaked clothes after Lightning recovered from a two-goal deficit to defeat the New York Rangers 3-2 — as champion Johnson delivered the late tournaments to keep Lightning’s aspirations with three curds — Palat texted Johnson again, “Thanks my friend.” .”
PALAT CALLED 😱
– NHL (NHL) 5 June 2022
In 2011, after scoring 53 goals, 115 points with WHL’s Spokane, Johnson signed with Lightning and landed at Norfolk playing with a man named Jon Cooper. Bales became Johnson’s ally. The following year, Johnson and Bale ended up in Syracuse with Cooper when Lightning switched AHL affiliates.
Johnson and Balat were called together later that season and were nearly inseparable until Johnson traded to Blackhawks last summer.
But Johnson was the one less surprised than Bales, after a sick pass from Nikita Kucherov, who came when the lightning was most needed.
“It’s his mentality,” Johnson said. “He gives 100 percent in every shift. He never gets nervous from any kind of play. It’s an Ondrej Palat booze. I think that’s what makes it special is that he doesn’t get upset like a lot of people do, so he’s able to stand up to those big situations. And then He is a player, so he is able to use this skill as well.”
Palat has 43 playoff goals in 129 playoffs. This is the second in the history of lightning. The only other active NHLers players to have 10 goals in the final are Joe Pavelsky (14), Evgeny Malkin (13), Jonathan Toyos (11) and Patrick Kane (11).
“Bali… is raising his level of play at a time when the team desperately needs him,” said captain Stephen Stamkos. “For the men who have known Bali and have been here as long as we have, as long as, I mean, it is not surprising for us to see him come clutching in those moments. A huge, huge moment for us, for this series, for momentum to get into the game (4). Bali is a man regardless No matter the situation, no matter the stage, he is the trusted master.”
Ondrej Palat looks and plays like the coach of the future pic.twitter.com/rnhzhs4Q8m
– Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) 5 June 2022
Cooper was essentially Palat’s only professional coach, and as good a 2011 seventh-round pick was, it often overshadowed him.
“We’ve seen this for years,” Cooper said. “He’s the quiet kid. He doesn’t say anything. All he does is give you his all in every shift. He has this ability to play the blue collar game with white collar players, and that’s a great trait to have. He’s been doing it all his life. Professional. He’s usually the third guy he talked about on the lines he played on, but he came in.”
It’s hard to believe that 207 players were picked before Palat in the 2011 NHL Draft. He cut the career for himself. There were countless big moments, especially during the two Lightning Cup races.
“It’s always exciting, especially when your best friends are playing, and these guys are still family to me,” said Johnson, one of my teammates for both cups. “I was there for a long time. I still talk to Bali almost every day. I think every coach wants him in his team. He will thrive wherever he is. He plays every style of game you need, and he is capable of everything.”
That could be a kind of warning. Johnson knows all about the Lightning cover crisis. He had three years left on his $5 million contract, and the Lightning needed that room to help their team. Well, they’re going to have it again this off season, and Palat is a suspended unrestricted free agent.
So this could be Palat’s last run with Lightning. His shot was the 51st that lightning fired at Igor Shesterkin.
“He’s a great goalkeeper, and in the first two games we didn’t shoot enough,” Balat said. “The message is we need to shoot more and stand in front of his eyes a little more, and I think we’ve done that.”
Johnson was brought to Chicago to provide depth and help the Blackhawks return to the playoffs, but his season was derailed after just eight games when Carolina’s Vincent Trochek checked him in the back. Johnson eventually underwent an artificial disc replacement (ADR), the same surgery as Jacques Eichel, but by the time he returned in March, Blackhawks had given up the idea of returning to the fray and had just begun what is certain to be a long and painful re-operation. Building.
Watching the Lightning play on TV from afar, Johnson’s competitive juices flow again, but after two short seasons due to long distances in Tampa Bay, he’s enjoying an awkward summer of training.
“The postseason is why I play the game. It’s what makes it so exciting, and it’s what makes everything you do worth it,” Johnson said. “But somehow, for me personally anyway, this year has been kind of weird that I’d love to get a little bit of a reset here, actually get a good summer internship, which I haven’t had for four or five years basically.
“It’s kind of sweet and sour as obviously I would like to be there. I like to fight and try to help my team win and everything. But at the same time, I enjoy myself too.”
He especially enjoys seeing his old friends, especially Palat, come again at the most dangerous moment.
“By direction is very equal in everything he does in his life,” Johnson said. “He’s a guy who jokes about everything, but you’ll never see him, he’s so excited. You’ll never see him. He just does his job, he does what he wants. He’s a great guy in the locker room, a great teammate, and he’s always rewarded for that.”
Same for Lightning, thanks again Palat.
“He’s a great player who gets ahead in the big moments,” said teammate Pat Maron.
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)