Predators’ Ryan Johansen hits all the right notes in Music City

 

 
 
 
 
Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) is congratulated by Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn.
 

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) is congratulated by Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn.

Photograph by: Mark Humphrey, Vancouver Sun

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NASHVILLE — Ryan Johansen is loving his new life in Nashville. So are some of his Port Moody pals.

Johansen joked Thursday about how he has become popular with his friends back home since being traded to the Predators by the Columbus Blue Jackets in early January.

They all suddenly want to come and visit him. Or visit Music City.

“Three of them have already visited and they didn’t even want to hang out with me,” Johansen said with a laugh before Thursday night’s game against the Canucks. “They went straight to Broadway and I don’t think they left that street all week.”

Johansen, after some tumultuous times under new Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, seems happy on both a professional and personal level in Nashville.

Things are going well at the rink, where the Preds are gearing up for the playoffs. And he loves the city. Who doesn’t?

“It is as advertised, it’s a great place to live,” he said. “Me and my girlfriend and my dog, we have really enjoyed the time here so far.”

And the Predators have enjoyed having Johansen, who gives them a big, young and highly skilled centre that seems to be a prerequisite for success in the tough Western Conference.

“We added a guy who can play 18 or 19 minutes a night and he has proven he is close to a point-a-game player,” said Nashville coach Peter Laviolette. “He brings size and speed and skill and can play different situations for us and he makes other players better. He has provided a lot for us.

“It was a good get for us. We now have a young centre who can grow with the organization for awhile. Add to what Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher bring to the table and it’s just a good mix now down the middle.”

Johansen centres Nashville’s top line with wingers James Neal and Calle Jarnkrok. That line has combined for 17 points in the last four games.

“Ryan has been really good moving his feet recently,” Laviolette said. “A big guy like that playing fast can be hard to stop. He has a tremendous skill level, but the speed in which he attacks the game has been more noticeable the last four or five games and because of that it has led to some offence for their line.”

Johansen said it took him a bit of time to get comfortable with his new surroundings, but he certainly is not missing Columbus.

“I feel totally comfortable here now,” he said. “I have been here for more than two months now and have got all settled in … Finally, I don’t have to use Google maps everywhere I go. It’s definitely been nice to be settled in and just focus on playing and not all the other distractions like finding grocery stores and things like that.”

Johansen, who entered Thursday night’s game with 13 goals and 51 points, said games against the Canucks always have special meaning to him.

“I definitely root for them, want them to have success,” he said. “Even though I am playing against them, I still grew up being a huge Canucks fan, watching all my idols play and stuff.

“It is always cool when you have an opportunity to play against these guys and have all your buddies at home watching the game because they are still big Canucks’ fans. I am not quite sure if they will be rooting for me or against me. I have never actually found out that answer through all the games playing them.”

It doesn’t matter, Ryan. Many of them figure to be out for a visit real soon.

bziemer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) is congratulated by Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn.
 

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) is congratulated by Calle Jarnkrok (19), of Sweden, after scoring a goal against the New York Islanders in the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn.

Photograph by: Mark Humphrey, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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