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Montreal Canadiens Prospects Standout vs. the Devils

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Montreal Canadiens

BUFFALO — With his fellow countryman out of the lineup, Filip Mesar had the perfect opportunity to show his mettle and take over the spotlight in Buffalo.

That’s not to say the Montreal Canadiens are better off without Juraj Slafkovsky in the lineup, but seeing as there’s very little chance the two will be on the same roster next year, Mesar must prove he has the ability to generate offence on his own.

And he did so on Friday night while centering the first line with Emil Heineman and Riley Kidney.

Mesar Mania

Not only did Filip Mesar score on the power play, which we’ll get to shortly, but more importantly, he did a fantastic job driving the play up the ice and generating high-danger scoring chances for his teammates. His stickhandling continues to impress, and that’s coming from someone who already rates him as one of the best, if not the best stickhandler in the organization.

Now, back to the powerplay goal. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it did give us a good idea of how well Mesar can anticipate the play in the offensive zone. He quickly identifies open ice, which creates passing lanes for his teammates due to the convergence of defencemen. The puck ends up back on his stick shortly thereafter, and owning to his quick release, he gives the Montreal Canadiens the lead.

Moving on to our next two standouts: Emil Heineman and Owen Beck, two players that are taking advantage of every opportunity they’re given.

Heineman, who admittedly, doesn’t standout as an elite presence, played yet another smart game in the offensive zone, which is to be expected, but he also provided quite a lot of defensive coverage whenever the need arose.

Beck, on the other hand, was simply excellent. We discussed his fantastic play in the first game of the tournament. He played a very smart brand of hockey, one that is condusicve to eventually making the NHL. On Friday night, Beck kicked it up a notch, threatening to score on virtually every play.

His decision making rivals that of a 10-year NHL veteran.

Beck followed up his solid first half of the game with, you guessed it, yet another dominant display.

Simply put, Beck gave his opponents a Devil’s Haircut.

Get it? Get it?

Fine, old music references aside, there’s absolutely no denying Beck has rocketed up the prospect rankings due to his inability to have a bad shift. He has his head on a swivel, constantly monitoring the play, allowing him to anticipate rather than react.

Prime Performance

William Trudeau had a solid first game. He made a lot of smart plays, rarely finding himself out of position despite supporting the offence whenever the opportunity arose.

He took his excellent play to a new level against the Devils, not only scoring a great goal, but displaying the type of decision-making that would make most development coaches blush. He also brings a smart physical presence to the lineup. I use the word smart, because he picks his spots. He doesn’t abandon his coverage just to lay someone out.

His defensive partner, Miguel Tourigny, also had a fantastic game, often outmuscling opponents that were almost twice his size. Tourigny reminds me of going on a moose hunt. Okay, let me elaborate. He reminds me of one of the most annoying parts of being deep in the woods: horseflies. They’re tenacious little buggers, and regardless of how much you attempt to shoo them away, they come back for more.

And finally, I have to talk about Mattias Norlinder because that’s what I do.

Once again, Norlinder struggled to contain opposing forwards early on, allowing a few high-danger chances due to poor positioning. And then, just as he did in the previous game, Norlinder started to do Norlinder things. He generated a few high-danger scoring chanes due to controlled exits and he avoided jumping into the play every single opportunity he had.

The Montreal Canadiens lost the game in overtime, but as we all know results are irrelevant in tournaments like this Prospect Challenge. You want to see tangible progress from key prospects, and thanks to players like Beck and Trudeau, that’s exactly what we saw.

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