Canadian: Slafkovsky continues to shine; Mesar wants to take his time

Alexis Belanger-Champagne, The Canadian Press

BROSSARD, Que. — Defenseman Chris Wideman compared Juraj Slafkovsky and Filip Mesar to Batman and Robin earlier this week, as the Montreal Canadiens’ two most recent first-round picks are inseparable.

The two Slovaks were however separated on the ice on Saturday morning. For once, Robin got the better of Batman as Mesar’s team beat Slafkovsky’s 5-2, the weaker of the two recalled.

“That was nice,” exclaimed Mesar, chosen 26th overall in the last draft.

« Everything is new and there are a lot of things to learn, » he added. I am lucky to be able to be here with Juraj, in the hotel or outside. We take advantage of these days and try to make the most of them.”

Slafkovsky, he said he was very happy to be able to count on « my little companion », but assured that there was no chicanery in the ‘Batcave’.

“I have my period and he follows them,” he said with a laugh.

Slafkovsky made a good impression in his first two intra-squad games, in a line completed by Owen Beck and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard.

Even though they didn’t score on Saturday, they generated several chances to do so thanks to an excellent forecheck and a good team play.

« I think our styles complement each other well, » said Beck, selected 33rd in the last draft. We are able to win battles and we have a certain attacking flair. We read each other’s game well.”

Author of seven goals in as many games at the Beijing Olympics last winter, Slafkovsky has mainly demonstrated his passing skills since the start of camp.

« I think it’s natural, » he replied when asked if it was a conscious choice on his part. Sometimes you see a game and try to do it. I’m happy if it works. »

Slafkovsky’s physical qualities are evident. At six-foot-three and 238 pounds, the No. 1 pick in the latest NHL draft is capable of winning several battles, which is an advantage on North American rinks, which are smaller than those in Europe.

“To weigh that weight and be that fast, in addition to being skillful, he generates a lot of attack,” Harvey-Pinard said of Slafkovsky. It’s easy to play with him and he makes it easy for others. »

For his part, Mesar, five-foot-nine, 176 pounds, admitted he was going to need some time to truly compete at this level with NHL players.

“I think I have good speed; I’m as fast as those guys, but maybe they’re a little bigger,” Mesar said. Maybe in two years I’ll be more ready for the NHL.

“We have had tests here and I have seen the results. I know what I need to improve over the next few years,” he said.

Mesar reiterated that his preference would be to play with the Laval Rocket of the American Hockey League this winter. Otherwise, he could be traded to the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League (OHL).

He recalled that the Canadian will have the last word in this decision. On the other hand, there is no question for him of returning to play in Europe. He prefers to stay in North America precisely to adapt to physical play on smaller rinks.

“In Slovakia, yes, there was a good physical level, but the ice rink is smaller here. There are more battles. It’s different than in Slovakia,” he insisted.

If ever Mesar were to stay with the Canadiens or the Rocket, then he would have the opportunity to continue living with Slafkovsky. Batman could thus keep his Robin, even if Slafkovsky recalled that he had lived alone during the last three years when he played in Finland.


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