During the Olympics, in a post that ended up being all about the stupid dust-up regarding the bogus supposed snub of Doughty et al at the hands of Jack Johnson, I said this:
In ten years, we might well look back and say that Jack's future as a true star in the NHL began in the Vancouver games. Of all the Kings, he has spent the most time at the top of the list of people I am dying to see bust out.
I had this vision of Jack, with his patriotic fervor and his history of pissing off the people of Vancouver, using the Olympics as his own personal coming-out party. It didn't quite work out that way, though JJ certainly did well well-enough on the international stage, and people did take at least a little bit of notice.
I was thinking about all that as he racked up his three assists tonight, tying (with Drew Doughty, who also had three assists) the record for assists by a Kings defenseman in the playoffs. The repetition of Doughty to Johnson, Johnson to Doughty, the confidence with which they were clearly feeding off each other was -- well, I was about to say "intoxicating", but the truth is it was making me giggle like an idiot.
After tonight, JJ is tied with his old friend Sidney Crosby for the league lead in playoff assists (5). In total points, he (and Doughty) are tied with several anonymous losers (including Alex Ovechkin, Mike Cammalleri, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson and Ilya Kovalchuk) at 4th overall. Above him are only Crosby, Mike Richards and Nicklas Backstrom (with 7, 6 and 6 points, respectively). Johnson and Doughty lead the league in points and assists among defensemen.
I know the post-season is loooooong. And I know they got most of their points in one game. Tonight. But I get the feeling, for the first time really, that the thing I started to picture back in February might actually be coming true; and, for being a couple of months late, it's obviously even better.