Jack Roslovic ‘a little more motivated’ after Rangers wake-up call

Jack Roslovic is very likely auditioning for his spot in the Rangers’ lineup.

Yes, head coach Peter Laviolette has continually rotated his lineup as the now fully healthy Rangers gear up for the playoffs, but it’s hard not to view his decision to make Roslovic a healthy scratch during the team’s 5-2 win over the Canadiens on Sunday night as a benching.

Roslovic, in the team’s 4-3 win over the Red Wings in the game prior, got only 8:07 on the ice, by far his lowest playing time since the Rangers acquired him from the Blue Jackets for a conditional fourth-round pick ahead of the deadline.

Jack Roslovic, pictured earlier this month, was a healthy scratch during the Rangers' win Sunday against the Canadiens.
Jack Roslovic, pictured earlier this month, was a healthy scratch during the Rangers’ win Sunday against the Canadiens. AP

It also marked the least playing time he’s received all season, with either team.

The 14 shifts Roslovic played against the Red Wings were his fewest with the Rangers, as well.

Even if Laviolette won’t say that it was his intended message, consider it a wake-up call for Roslovic.

“You definitely get a little more motivated,” Roslovic said after practice on Monday. “Just [gotta] play the way I can play. It’s good accountability. Can’t bring the slack. … You always want to be in there with the team. Just get better, learn from it.”

Roslovic has mostly skated on the first line since he arrived, a spot that has seen many different occupants alongside longtime partners-in-crime Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

Roslovic appeared to have won and solidified the spot, which has featured Kaapo Kakko, Blake Wheeler, Jonny Brodzinski, Will Cuylle and Jimmy Vesey throughout the year, but his and the line’s recent struggles prompted Laviolette to again re-examine his options.

Roslovic has just three points in his last eight games.

Vesey skated alongside Zibanejad and Kreider on Sunday night in Roslovic’s place, and the line thrived with one of its best games of the season.

Jack Roslovic, pictured last month, has recorded just three points across the Rangers' past eight games.
Jack Roslovic, pictured last month, has recorded just three points across the Rangers’ past eight games. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Zibanejad scored at even strength, the first time he’s done so since March 21 and just his fourth goal at five-on-five since the start of March, a stretch spanning 18 games.

Vesey provided the lone assist for Zibanejad’s even-strength goal.

“[Laviolette] runs the team, he’s gonna put his team out there,” Roslovic said. “We had a good chat, and [just] get back at it.”

Roslovic was back on the first line during Monday’s practice, a strong sign that he’s likely to return to the lineup for Tuesday’s clash against the Islanders.

Perhaps a game off and a chance to watch his teammates from the press box will help Roslovic regroup and get back to his best.

“Just the flow of the game,” Roslovic answered when asked about what he learned while watching, instead of playing. “Just trying to get a read on it. Understand the team a little better.”

For his part, Laviolette maintained the same sentiment that he has constantly repeated in recent weeks.

“I can only dress 18 skaters,” Laviolette said. “I have to take guys out of the lineup. The people I inserted in the lineup, I thought they played a pretty good game [Sunday] night. The lineup may be different [on Tuesday]. And if it is, it won’t be because of anything anyone did. Just gotta get through this.”

If he does return to the lineup, it’ll be a crucial chance for Roslovic to make his case that he deserves to keep his spot, especially once the playoffs start.

Tuesday will be a major test against local rivals, a team that is hungry and desperate to claw their way into the playoffs amid a four-game winning streak.

“Really important game,” Roslovic said. “A team that’s looking for two points, looking to fight for their playoff life. I think it’s a great test for us in some ways, too, a warm up to the playoffs. It’s an important game for us, we want to be sharp.”

That test likely is more critical for Roslovic than anyone else on the roster at the moment.

Will he pass?


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