Blue Jackets’ Jack Roslovic Learning the John Tortorella Way

Jack Roslovic had a nice weekend for the Columbus Blue Jackets on the scoresheet. But despite that, he wasn’t thrilled with the way he played overall.

Roslovic recorded four assists over the two games against the Dallas Stars including on the game-winning goal Saturday night. He also had a huge assist Sunday by winning an offensive zone draw back to Seth Jones who then got the puck over to Werenski to score the only goal of the game for the Blue Jackets. That goal was enough to earn them one point.

So while the points and performance looked good, Roslovic was brutally honest with the assessment of his play. He was asked if he felt like he got some things squared away this weekend.

“No, to be completely honest,” Roslovic said. “I made one good play to (Max Domi) and then made some little plays that teammates made where I just touched the puck and teammates capitalized on some opportunities. I really got to focus defensively. I’m trying to be more consistent there. It’s one of those things that I just got to be better with.

Welcome to life under head coach John Tortorella.

Improving Under Tortorella

Anyone who has followed Tortorella for a good length of time knows that to be successful with him, you have to play well defensively and away from the puck. Roslovic knows this. He understands that although his play has been better of late, he still has a lot to learn especially at the center ice position. Roslovic was asked what areas he needs to be better with.

“The goal (Saturday night). (Alexander) Radulov had a chance. You know just being bigger. I know when I’m on the offensive zone and I make a play I get rubbed out doing that to other guys. And just being harder. I think the communication is there when I’m playing well. The communication is there and I’m talking. Recently that’s been consistent. But it’s just not good enough and I got to keep on going.”

Roslovic knows that he’s in the middle of a crash course of learning what Tortorella wants out of him. While there is a lot to learn, Tortorella acknowledges that Roslovic is coachable and some good things have happened.

“I think he wants to learn,” Tortorella said. “I think he’s very coachable. A lot comes to it. He has quite a bit to learn about the checking part of it, about coverages. He has a lot to learn about the faceoffs. On that faceoff, I’m thinking about putting (Boone Jenner) out there. But I’ve got to give Jack an opportunity. He’s done some good things here, some good things offensively.”

John Tortorella Columbus Blue Jackets
John Tortorella says that Jack Roslovic has a lot to learn but is coachable. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“He distributed the puck a little bit more, a little bit earlier tonight which I think needs to happen in his game. For him to be without the puck and distributing, getting into open ice, there are some things he has to learn. It’s going to be a constant process as far as the competing part of the game. It’s something we’re going to teach him one way or another. But the checking part is just through experience and being involved in those coverages more and more so he gets to understand it.”

Even though Roslovic is learning on the go, Tortorella is putting him in situations suggesting that there is a growing level of trust, even if it’s only a little bit at a time. But he knows that he must earn the trust of Tortorella if he wants to play in bigger and more important situations.

“For me, it’s one of those things I don’t want to gain his trust and then lose it and then gain it,” Roslovic said. “That is just a cycle that I have done a lot and I am working hard to try to be able to be in that position and earn it.”

While Roslovic continues to learn the finer points, he has made an important impact in recent games. He’s using his speed to create chances for him and his teammates. He’s also making more decisive decisions with the puck. It will continue to be a work in progress for him as he continues to learning checking and faceoffs. But he is showing a willingness to be coachable and teachable. This will eventually pay off for him.

For now however, expect to continue seeing both good and bad as he learns the rigors of center ice in the NHL.

Side Dishes

  • Werenski scored again on Sunday thanks to a set faceoff play. He said postgame the puck was supposed to back to him first to pass it to Jones. It went to Jones first and he went to Werenski. The shot beat Stars’ goalie Jake Oettinger in the third period to tie the game. That’s two goals over the weekend and three overall on the season for Werenski. He’s starting to heat up which is an encouraging sign for a team still trying to find offensive consistency. He also had a chance at the end of overtime Sunday only to have Oettinger make the save at the horn. Deja vu almost happened.
  • Joonas Korpisalo stopped 34 of 35 shots and was a big reason the game went to overtime. He made two great stops one on Radulov and the other on Jamie Benn stretching out to the post. However Radulov scored the only goal of the shootout. Interestingly enough, Korpisalo admitted postgame he doesn’t scout the opposition for the shootout but that he trusts his instincts. On Radulov’s goal, Korpisalo said he “took the bait” and “sometimes you tip your cap” to the opposition.
Joonas Korpisalo Columbus Blue Jackets
Joonas Korpisalo was outstanding Sunday night despite suffering a loss in the shootout. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
  • The Blue Jackets do get a much needed three-day break before they play the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night. The teams play their next four games against each other, two in each city.
  • 10 of their next 12 games are against the Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers. This stretch will define their season and how they’ll handle the trade deadline.
  • Speaking of the trade deadline, do not be surprised if we start to hear of deals sooner given all the protocols out there. It could make for an unusually quiet deadline day itself.
  • The Blue Jackets will start the week just four points out of a playoff spot. That’s a miracle is it not given what has happened?