Perreault spark plug of fine-tuned Jet engine
Versatile veteran impresses coach, teammates with grit and tenacity
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This article was published 16/02/2018 (1928 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Jack Roslovic figures imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.
The rookie forward is getting a chance to play alongside Mathieu Perreault, the guy he considers his role model on the Winnipeg Jets.
Roslovic, just 17 games into his NHL career, said Friday he’s blown away by the impact Perreault has on the Central Division club and is trying to mimic the work of the nine-year veteran.
“In training camp and at the beginning of the year when I was down with the (Manitoba) Moose, I’d watch him pretty closely. He’s got that skill — and it really is a skill — his ability to be F1 (first on the forecheck) every time and create that dirty puck to sustain some (offensive) zone pressure,” said Roslovic, who turned 21 two weeks ago.
“Just getting in there and really battling it out, that’s his game. That’s one of the things I’ve been focusing on.”
A talented offensive performer — one of the American Hockey League’s brightest stars last season — Roslovic also demonstrated with the Moose he’s an intelligent, responsible player with a desire to develop a strong game in both ends of the rink.
He didn’t keep his ambitions to himself, either, telling Moose head coach Pascal Vincent exactly the kind of pro career he wants to carve out.
“I said I want to be just like Matty Perreault. He’s a big piece of this team and his name gets lost in the mix with guys like (Mark) Scheifele and (Patrik) Laine and (Blake) Wheeler, but he’s definitely up there as one of the important guys on our team,” Roslovic said Friday morning, prior to the Jets’ battle with the Colorado Avalanche.
“I’ve been able to model my game after him a little bit in what he does. He’s a versatile guy. On the fourth line, he knows exactly how to play that defensive role, that smart game, and when he plays on the top lines he’s got so much skill to go with it.
“Just his work ethic and (his ability to) get on pucks and be a good communicator, it’s really interesting to watch him.”
Perreault has been a yo-yo in the Jets lineup, beginning as a top-nine forward before getting hurt just five games into the season. The lower-body injury sidelined him for a dozen games, but upon his return he quickly netted four goals in four games and chipped in a couple of assists on a surprisingly effective fourth line with Matt Hendricks and Joel Armia. Since then, the 5-8, 188-pounder, a sixth-round pick of the Washington Capitals in 2006, has played alongside just about every forward wearing a Jets uniform.
Not once have the results been a disappointment to head coach Paul Maurice, who admitted this week the manner in which he’s utilized the services of the 30-year-old from Drummondville, Que., might have been unsettling for other players.
But not so for Perreault, a plug-and-play guy who had 15 goals and 19 assists in 45 games prior to the tilt with Colorado. He started Tuesday’s game against the Capitals with Wheeler and Scheifele, was replaced by Kyle Connor and dropped to play with Little and Roslovic — a creative way to strengthen the top six — while struggling Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers were bumped to a third trio with Andrew Copp.
“He’s the fireman; we put him wherever we need help,” Maurice said. “He brings a consistent level, but a high level. Any line that he plays with gets that benefit. They all get more (offensive) zone time if Matty’s on your line. That was true when he was with Hendricks and Armia, they were scoring points because they’re playing in the other team’s end. You play with Matty and the other two guys on the line end up feeling good about their game.”
Perreault said simple hard work and a willingness to adapt have been his modus operandi since part-time work with the Caps during the 2009-10 turned into a full-time gig two years later.
“That’s all I’ve known my entire career and I know it’s not going to change,” he said.
“I’m just kind of used to it now. I like to play with anybody, really… just comfortable in that position. You take it day by day, come to the rink and see what’s going on and just react your best to the situation you’re put in.
“Sometimes, if (Maurice) feels a line’s not going, he’ll put me on there to spark that line because he knows I’ll bring energy and everything I have. It’s definitely a great feeling to know the coach has that confidence in me.”
Maurice said it’s wise for Roslovic and other relative newcomers to the NHL to mimic Perreault’s attributes and style of play.
“Almost all young skilled players that aren’t 6-4, 210 (pounds) haven’t had to do a lot of what you have to do in the NHL, right? Forechecking is not a big part of how they got to the NHL,” he said. “Matty’s kind of that prime guy. If you want to survive in this league, you have to get in on the puck and you have to play a puck-pressure game and you have to be able to contain… you have to win some of those battles.
“Most of them at some point will think, ‘Coach, that’s fine but it’s not for me, I’ll let some of the bigger, less-talented players go bang it around.’ What Matty does is, at a high skill level, he plays a grinder’s game.”
email@example.com Twitter: @WFPJasonBell
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Saturday, February 17, 2018 7:50 AM CST: Writethru