In a flash, the NHL season is well under way, with teams having played for more than two full weeks. After seven games, the Blue Jackets find themselves off to a solid start at 3-2-2. But what none of us saw coming: some unexpected players are standing out.
Though the lineup has been on a bit of a rotation in the bottom six forward group, the Jackets have naturally continued to ice their best players. Johnny Gaudreau, Boone Jenner, Kirill Marchenko … on down the list, most of the guys have been pretty safe. But as we approach the one tenth of the season mark, the team is led in scoring by Jack Roslovic and Ivan Provorov, who have six points apiece.
Did any of us see that kind of start coming from Roslovic? He was a healthy scratch at one point, but since then, when he’s been in the lineup, he’s been really good. Like, really good. Check this play out:
Suddenly, Jack is playing at a point-per-game pace, with 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games – pacing the entire team in scoring. He’s joined by Ivan Provorov, who has 6 assists through 7 games played – tying him with the likes of Quinn Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and Charlie McAvoy. What the heck? While we knew Provorov was a better player than he was given credit for, I would be lying if I said that I was expecting him to come in and produce at this pace for any stretch of the season.
None of this includes Emil Bemstrom, who has been written off by the fanbase plenty of times because of an obvious lack of confidence with the puck. But Bemmer has scored three power-play goals in the last two games – all of them one-timer blasts from that patented Ovechkin zone (usually occupied in Columbus by Patrik Laine). It’s not just the shooting for him; he’s looked very confident with the puck, and is skating extremely well so far this season.
Bemstrom’s production alone makes me wonder how much of the change here is because of coaching. Pascal Vincent has been quick to yank guys out of the lineup if they aren’t meeting or exceeding expectations. That’s part of the reason we’ve seen Roslovic playing like his hair is on fire. But is there more than meets the eye here? Is it possible that he’s found a way to tap into some previously undiscovered potential in a guy like Bemstrom? At the very least, he deserves some credit for continuing to give Emil offensive looks, which seems to have gotten his game on track. No coach had ever really done that for him before.
At some point, I fully expect the usual guys to take over and start producing in bigger numbers. Boone Jenner is already there, with 5 points so far. Johnny Gaudreau has been snake bitten, but he’s going to produce for sure. Laine will come back and start scoring goals again. But for now, at this very moment, these guys are producing, and they deserve some praise for keeping this team competitive while the stars get going.
Do I expect Jack Roslovic to exceed 80 points this season? No. Provorov, 70 points? Hardly. Bemstrom, 30 goals? Doubtful. If nothing else, maybe it’s boosting stock on some of these guys for when the team does decide to make a move to upgrade somewhere in the lineup. However you look at it, guys like Roslovic and Bemstrom scoring is never a bad thing.