With the Jackets trailing late in the second period last night and needing to find some offense to get back into the game, one player was noticeably absent from the rotation of lines. Jack Roslovic did not see the ice in the third period as the Jackets attempted to make a comeback. His continued struggles are becoming a concern.
When you look through the Blue Jackets’ lineup, you’ll find that they’re seriously lacking depth and productivity at the center position. They’re in really good shape for scoring wingers. They’ve accumulated a deep defense corps, even if they are incredibly young and mostly offensive-minded. But down the middle, it’s tough.
Which is exactly why they need Jack Roslovic to be on top of his game. So far this season, that has not happened. Through 21 games, he has scored just one goal and 8 points, with just 31 shots on goal and a -7 rating. It’s not that he’s been unlucky or even just invisible; he’s been obviously struggling on both sides of the puck.
Jack’s struggles earned him a healthy scratch just three weeks ago – in favor of Brendan Gaunce. Now, this isn’t a knock on Gaunce, he’s a solid two-way guy who does a lot of the little things that coaches love. But he’s a 28 year old former 1st round pick, who hasn’t yet carved out a full-time role in the NHL. That he was in the lineup ahead of Roslovic, highlights how bad Jack’s play has been. Efforts like this one are a real head scratcher:
He doesn’t need to be Patrice Bergeron defensively, but he has to put in more effort than that. He takes one step, coasts back and crosses sticks with the attacking player … it’s just not good enough.
For a team needing any kind of help they can get down the middle, the opportunity abounds for a player like Roslovic. We even talked before the season about him potentially playing between Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine on the top line. He certainly has the skill, but he hasn’t yet shown any kind of consistency, which has cost him not only the chance to win that spot – but also hold down his own job.
When he’s on his game, he can be dynamic. He scored 10 goals in the final 10 games last season, thrusting himself back into the spotlight and earning a two year contract extension with the team. He was moving his feet, showing off his hands, and found his scoring touch in a big way.
But when you look at the whole picture, last season? Aside from those final 10 games, he scored just 12 goals and 32 points in 71 games. From that perspective, he was a bottom-six producer on a team that had a relatively good year offensively. To top that off, he often looks disinterested and carefree on the ice – two tendencies that drive coaches insane. You can play that way if you produce big numbers, but when you’re struggling, it stands out.