Juraj Slafkovsky: the maturity of a colossus

But the Slovak doesn’t just have the build of a man; it also gives the impression of possessing its maturity.

Slafkovsky seemed like an adult among children at times in that first game of the rookie tournament, which the Canadiens ultimately lost 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres. From his first appearances, we notice his explosiveness, his tenacity, his desire to win.

He is looking for Filip Mesar on the ice, his compatriot and great friend, too, as life does things well, first round choice of the Canadian last July. Mesar receives a lot of pucks and offers himself a few good chances to score courtesy of his burly sidekick.

He will eventually score, after a breathtaking run by Slafkovsky to get his hands on a loose puck that he ultimately passed on to him. Starting well behind his pursuer, the first choice of the CH, despite his 238 lb (108 kg), beat Mats Lindgren in speed before dismissing him with an unpleasant ease bordering on rudeness.

Everything that makes fans dream expressed in a few seconds: power, intelligence, aggressiveness, raw talent.

In fact, it was going so well for No. 20 that we felt he was a little irritated when the young Sabers, suddenly a little more structured, tried to close the game and cut him off his options in the second period. Slafkovsky began to force things. And he noticed it.

Introspection at 18 is not given to everyone either.

There were times when I wanted to do too much. I like to win and I do everything I can. Yes, I made a few mistakes, but I prefer to focus on the good things in this game and bring that into the next one.explained the young man.

For there have been many of these good things. We have seen him cut opponents’ climbs in the central zone, relaunch the attack, carry the puck, demonstrate excellent game vision. Doing a little too much, of course, but isn’t that the ideal context for the TO DO?

What better time than at a rookie tournament to try to demonstrate your superiority even if it means taking a few risks? Coach Jean-François Houle had said that he would focus mainly on the effort expended and the quality of communication between the players, but it should come as no surprise that he expected to see more first choice overall.

Sometimes he tries to do a little too much. He wants to demonstrate what he can do and that’s normal. Young people will make mistakeslaunched Houle.

And Slafkovsky made a few of them. Nothing alarming either.

Rare fact: he had practically the same face after this defeat, after all, insignificant as the few times we had the opportunity to speak to him after a setback at the Olympic Games last February. The Slovak does not digest defeat very well and has shown so far in his young career that he takes the means not to make the same mistakes twice.

I found the pace high and I expect to see the level increase more and more, he admitted. It was just a first game. I did not do anything wrong. But I know myself and I know that the more I have the chance to play, the better I become.


In addition to Slafkovsky, on whom all the spotlights were trained, even those of the Sabers supporters who asked us questions about the colossus, several young people from the CH stood out in this first rehearsal of the year.

This is the case of Emil Heineman. The 20-year-old Swede had some good scoring chances and netted the game’s first goal with a nice shot into the top of the net. His coach praised his speed and the quality of his throw after the meeting. In Houle’s eyes, Heineman is stood out.

Not bad for a boy who arrived in Montreal from Sweden on Monday evening and who knew very little of his teammates having essentially only trained with them twice since the start of the week.

We do not know if Heineman will return to his hometown this season or if he will try the North American adventure in Laval, although Houle seemed very interested in counting him among his men this winter. Heineman has been mysterious on the matter, saying he would find something when asked what made him hesitate. Go find out what that means.

Ontario’s Owen Beck also performed well. The 18-year-old center had a goal and an assist, won a majority of face-offs and led the most consistent line in the game along with Heineman and Lucas Condotta.

Otherwise, let’s salute the performance of Jordan Harris, a defender taller than all the others if we measure from the shoulders. At 22, however, and after 10 games in the NHL last year, the American must excel.

Theoretically, this should also be the case for Justin Barron. More erased, the Nova Scotian will have other chances to recover. It was his first game since April 5 and his ankle injury. Barron admitted in the morning that he was mainly looking to find your rhythm during this tournament.

Nor should too great conclusions be drawn from a recruit camp.

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