Roslovic, Moose buddy Appleton bring buzz to fourth line with Perreault
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/12/2018 (1457 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NEW YORK — There’s something intriguing brewing between Jack Roslovic and Mason Appleton right now.
The Winnipeg Jets young forwards are flashing some terrific chemistry on the fourth line during the club’s current three-game road trip to the New York area.
It’s a small sample size indeed, but worth monitoring with interest, particularly when there’s been an absence of anything particularly noteworthy from the bottom trio in the 24 regular-season games prior to the trip, or much of last season, either.
Appleton, 22, inserted inserted into the lineup in New Jersey for his NHL debut after a terrific start to the American Hockey League season with the Manitoba Moose, comes with sound offensive instincts, speed and stubbornness when pursuing pucks.
He accumulated plenty of points for Manitoba last season with Roslovic, a defensively responsible, intelligent puck-distributor patrolling the middle of the ice. The reunion with the big club over the weekend — with feisty veteran winger Mathieu Perreault also aboard — was a productive one, with promise of even better days ahead.
Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice hadn’t been unhappy with Roslovic’s play prior to the weekend, but has enjoyed watching the 21-year-old centre’s blossoming chemistry with Appleton in a couple of tough Metropolitan Division buildings.
“(Roslovic) is right where I think he should be. He’s a young guy learning how to play, so I’ve been happy with him even though I’ve benched him and cut his minutes back. I’m happy where he’s at,” said Maurice. “But that’s back-to-back games now that line looks like a threat on the ice. There’s an excitement between the three of them playing, and they put up two or three ‘A’ chances tonight and really didn’t give much up. They can do that every night, we’ll be really pleased with it.
“(Appleton) is in on the forecheck, he skates well, he handles the puck well, he’s got some size to his game. There is something between the two of them. They’ve played together for a year and that translates on the ice.”
Roslovic scored the second goal of the Jets’ third-period comeback against the Rangers on Sunday and nearly beat New York’s star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, later in the period. He orchestrated a slick give-and-go with Appleton and then let a quick shot go that the future hall-of-famer moved across quickly to block.
“Good goalie… I thought I had a good shot on it, but I guess he had other opinions,” said Roslovic, who has a pair of goals and four assists this year.
In his first-ever pro season Appleton turned some heads, scoring 22 goals and setting up 44 others for the Moose, and was named the AHL’s 2018 rookie of the year. He picked up where he left off this fall, leading Manitoba with eight goals and 10 assists in 19 outings before being promoted by the Jets a week ago.
He helped set up Andrew Copp’s goal Saturday night in New Jersey for his first-ever NHL point and nearly had his second on the terrific feed to Roslovic for a chance that was thwarted by Lundqvist.
“The first two games have been pretty successful in our eyes. We’ve been working really hard,” said Roslovic. “Two games is only two games. Is it real? A lot of people can see that, but we have to keep working every day to make it better. A lot of room for improvement still but it seems to be trending in the right direction.
“There’s definitely some chemistry. You can look back at when we played in the American league together, we had some pretty good numbers. The NHL level’s a lot different, but it’s trending upwards now so we’ve just got to make sure we keep it going that way.”
Appleton’s emergence may be bad news for another young player. Brendan Lemieux and Nic Petan are both on the outside looking in these days as healthy scratches, and you wonder how long the Jets will continue to carry two extra forwards on their roster.
If one were to be sent down, the obvious choice would be Lemieux, as he doesn’t require waivers to be assigned to the Moose.
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