Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/2/2020 (394 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Jack Roslovic doesn’t need a copy of Saturday’s official game sheet to appreciate the kind of performance he turned in against the St. Louis Blues.

Even if his quick wrist shot had rattled off the post late in the first period or a rebound in the second period had bounced just beyond his reach, the Winnipeg Jets winger would have been pretty content with his effort.

Indeed, victories tend to amplify those good feelings. Fortunately for Roslovic and the win-starved Jets, he cashed in on both scoring chances to spark the NHL team to a crucial 5-2 triumph over the Blues at Bell MTS Place.

The Columbus product upped his goal total to 11 — two more than a career high during the 2018-19 season — and picked up his 11th assist on Andrew Copp’s second-period goal.

Roslovic, who turned 23 last Wednesday, said he left the downtown arena feeling there was a thoroughness to his performance, an amped-up engagement level, against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"I do a lot of evaluating of the games the day after. You have your initial thoughts, but sometimes there’s too much emotion right after. But going over it, I feel like I played better than the Boston game (Friday)," he said Sunday. "It’s tough to judge when you have a successful night to help the team win because it seems like an obvious answer, but that’s not always how the game goes.

"It’s tough some nights, especially coming off the bye week and shaking off that rust, but I think (Saturday) night I did a good job getting back on the horse and helping the team win."

The Jets (26-23-4), three points below the playoff line in the Western Conference, host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Roslovic, selected late in the first round of the 2015 draft, is in his second full season in Winnipeg and has cemented himself in the top nine, but his journey hasn’t been without pitfalls. His skating is elite, he possesses tremendous offensive instincts and is able to hold onto pucks down low. He’s also shown good hustle in the back-checking department.

The issue has been a lapse in consistency, something he’s focused on fixing while playing with a solid two-way centre like Andrew Copp. On his second goal, Roslovic was rubbed out by Troy Brouwer on the far wall but darted to the front of the net and swept in a loose puck coughed up by goalie Jordan Binnington after a shot by Dmitry Kulikov.

No sticking to the fringes, no coasting, no waiting for the play to come to him.

"It’s a mindset that you have to bring it every night, that consistency factor that you have to be good with," he said.

"For me and Andrew’s relationship on the ice, I think that chemistry starts off the ice. We have a lot in common but were two guys that didn’t really know each other and became friends. Just a great guy to be around. The energy is always positive with him, and it’s easy to want to play that same way."

Roslovic is coming to the end of his entry-level contract and, as a restricted free agent, will be looking for a major pay hike from Winnpeg on his next deal. But the onus is solely on him to earn it.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice said he was pleased with Roslovic’s play earlier in the season, particularly when he skated on a line with Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers. But things went sour for the trio, and Roslovic’s low intensity level was a factor.

Aligning Roslovic with Copp, the Winnipeg coach has seen some fire from him lately. It continued here against Boston and was heightened against the division-rival Blues.

"It has to do with the engagement in the game, and that’s really the young man’s challenge -- not just Jack, all young players," Maurice said. "I would equate him to more somewhere between Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers.

"You watch (Connor’s) game engagement now, in the (defensive) zone he pushes the points, he’s trying to battle pucks on the wall, he forechecks — he’s completely engaged in all parts of the game. So, Jack is learning to do that.

"And then on the offensive side, more like Nikky," Maurice added. "When Nik Ehlers came in, one in four you’re going, ‘Oh my God, this kid is amazing.’ Blinding speed, just incredible hands, and then the other three, you maybe wouldn’t notice him as much. So, Jack is dealing with that as well. It’s all about engagement every shift of every game."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

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).

   Read full biography