It's been an up-and-down ride for Patrik Laine since arriving with the Columbus Blue Jackets in a blockbuster trade earlier this season.
After being benched four games into his Jackets career, Laine has been held without a point in each of his past seven games while Columbus has gone 2-5-0.
When asked about his confidence level on Thursday, Laine admitted to reporters he’s struggling.
“Probably closer to zero, I would say, around there,” he said.
Has Laine ever felt like this before?
“I have. I have. We’re still humans. You know, you’re going through tough times every now and then and sometimes it lasts two games and sometimes it’s seven games. You don’t know,” he said. “But you’ve just got to work your way out of it and that’s what I’m going to try to do – help the team win. Obviously when the team is winning you’re probably going to play better, so that’s what we got to do and win some more games and work ourselves out of it.”
Considering the Blue Jackets sent Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick to the Winnipeg Jets for him and forward Jack Roslovic in January, Laine knows the expectations are there for him to produce.
“I’m not going to say I’ve been playing bad. But obviously everyone is going to judge me by how many points I have. So, I don’t know if guys who are judging me have ever watched a game in their life. But I get it. Like you’re a top-six guy, playing a lot of minutes getting paid a lot, you’ve got to make stuff happen. And I’m aware of that and I agree. I need to produce more. But I think it just starts with the complete play out there,” he said.
Head coach John Tortorella moved the struggling left winger over to the right side Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers. Laine was held off the scoresheet in 19:57 of ice time as Columbus fell 4-2 for its second-straight loss.
When asked if he has a preference, Laine admitted he feels more natural on the left but is willing to be flexible.
“I feel like I have more moves over on the left side but now obviously with not too much confidence it’s not ideal that you have to make all the plays on your backhand. I think normally in a normal situation I would probably rather want to play left side, but I’m just as comfortable on the right. I’ve played both enough to be flexible, so it really doesn’t matter which side I play," he said.
Meanwhile, Tortorella had some strong words directed at Roslovic on Wednesday that implied he’d like to see more compete from the fourth-year forward.
Roslovic told reporters he didn’t see what his head coach had to say but agreed he needed to be better.
“I watch all my games back and I didn’t play well last night or maybe it hasn’t been my best past couple and that’s just garbage. I know I need to do better,” he said.
“I think that if you’re not trying to work hard you’ve got to go out there and really show that you’re going to compete, and you’ve got to do it every night. It’s one of those things that, you know, you have to show and it’s easier to sit here and say it on camera, but I just got to be better.”
Roslovic has been held without a point in each of his past three games. Since the trade, he has 14 points in 20 games while Laine has 10 in 17 outings.
Laine acknowledged that being traded and forced to move to another country in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t ideal. It’s an adjustment he’s still trying to make, but he conceded the organization has helped make things easier.
“Still haven’t been here for a long time but it starts to feel like home. You know, just being here by myself in a temporary house, it’s not ideal but that’s just the way it is right now, and you just try to adjust,” he said. “But can’t thank the guys and the organization enough for making this the easiest possible for me and everybody has been great. My teammates are awesome, everybody who works here is awesome, so it’s been an easy transition for me to come here and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.
“It’s the same thing for everybody so you just try to make it work as well as we can and just focus on the things we can do better on the ice and not worry about the stuff that’s going on off the ice.”