Blackhawks’ Tyler Johnson hasn’t let parade of injuries affect his positive attitude

Johnson played just his 50th Hawks game in two seasons Friday, having missed 82 due to a variety of ailments. He has remained positive and mentally engaged through it all, though.

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Tyler Johnson has overcome a variety of injuries in his two seasons with the Blackhawks.

Tyler Johnson has overcome a variety of injuries in his two seasons with the Blackhawks.

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

If forward Tyler Johnson had been fully healthy last season, he would have played his 50th game as a member of the Blackhawks on Feb. 17, 2022.

Instead, Johnson made his 50th appearance for the Hawks on Friday against the Coyotes — the team’s 50th game of his second season in Chicago.

That shows how hampered by injuries Johnson, 32, has been since coming to the Hawks. Physically, things have not gone well. He hasn’t played more than eight consecutive games at any point during these two seasons.

Mentally, however, things have gone relatively well. Johnson has displayed an impressive ability to fend off discouragement in spite of his unfortunate injury luck.

‘‘I always try to be a positive person,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘I don’t think being negative helps at all, regardless of what’s going on individually or as a team.’’

Added Hawks coach Luke Richardson: ‘‘He just makes us a better team, and . . . he just makes players better around him. Those [types of] hockey players are hard to find.’’

One reason for Johnson’s optimism stems from the fact that the biggest chunk of games he missed — 46, from Oct. 30 to Feb. 27 of last season — came after he decided to have artificial disc-replacement surgery. That operation turned out to be extremely effective, eliminating neck pain Johnson had been dealing with for years.

Even later last season, however, Johnson missed seven games (March 15-26) with something initially deemed a concussion — although he recently clarified that was ‘‘not really’’ what it was — then three games (April 10-14) as a healthy scratch.

This season, he missed 20 games (Oct. 27-Dec. 9) with a sprained left ankle, came back for two, then missed two more (Dec. 16-18) after aggravating it. After that, he played six games, missed one (Jan. 3) because of illness, played eight more, then suffered a ‘‘different but related’’ ankle injury that cost him three games (Jan. 24-28).

Johnson caught a break with the timing of the Hawks’ bye week, which enabled him to return Tuesday against the Ducks and log 19 minutes, 44 seconds of ice time — the second-highest of his Hawks tenure to date.

‘‘Of all the bad luck, I guess we got a little good luck there,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s nothing I’m worried about or, in the future, that I have to worry about.

‘‘The ankle is more of a nuisance than anything. It can be really good or it can be really bad, but hopefully now we’re over that hurdle. It feels good. I just have to keep on going.’’

Still, maintaining a rhythm through his absences has proved difficult.

‘‘It’s just that hockey touch of being in the right spot, having your timing down and making the right plays [that gets lost],’’ Johnson said. ‘‘You’re working out, so your body’s there. And in your mind, you’re always thinking about the game. But it’s just about that timing of everything. You don’t quite get that at practice because it’s not quite up to full speed.’’

That makes his respectable productivity this season all the more impressive. With 15 points in 24 games, he leads all regular Hawks with a rate of 2.45 points per 60 minutes. (Max Domi ranks second at 2.30.)

And early in the third period Tuesday, Johnson was covering for pinching defenseman Seth Jones when the puck was cleared delicately down the ice, putting him in a race with Ducks forward Frank Vatrano back into the Hawks’ defensive zone.

Richardson watched Johnson ‘‘put the burners on,’’ get to the puck first and calmly pass it to Jones, who hit Patrick Kane in stride to start another attack.

‘‘To me, that showed he’s healthy again and he’s feeling good,’’ Richardson said.

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