In the notebook | Training Camp – Sept 24

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Here are some news from the South Shore:

Mesar: “I need about two more years to be stronger”

Filip Mesar certainly made his presence felt in training camp this week, but he’s not getting carried away.

The 18-year-old Slovak insists he’s not ready to make the NHL just yet, as he has yet to physically mature to play professional-level hockey.

The intrasquad games have made him realize that he needs to get bigger, he who is 5’9 and weighs 176 pounds, in order to be able to face the best players in the National League.

« I think I was well prepared, but I need about two more years to be stronger and to be ready to play in the NHL, » explained Mesar, who was selected 26th overall in July. “We did some tests here, so I have the paper with the results. I know what I have to do better and I will do it this season. »

Video: Filip Mesar on the training load in Montreal

The Canadiens rookie hopes to play for the Laval Rocket in the AHL for the 2022-23 season, but he could also be headed to the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL as they hold his CHL rights.

It’s a decision that the general manager, Kent Hughes, and his colleagues will eventually make.

« I want to play in the AHL, but if that doesn’t work out, maybe a year in the OHL would be good for me, » Mesar said. “Whatever Montreal decides is the best option for me, I’m going to go play there and try to be the best. »

The native of Kezmarok liked being in the center of Cole Caufield and of Mike Hoffman.

Caufield, also a first-round pick, was impressed with Mesar’s skill.

« It’s easy to play with him. He flies on the ice and he has a lot of energy,” praised Caufield. “And it’s very pleasant to play with him too. »

Video: MTL@NJD: Mesar scores on the power play

Off the ice, Mesar enjoys some quality time with fellow countryman and friend, Juraj Slafkovsky.

Affectionately nicknamed « Batman and Robin » by the veteran Chris Widemanthe duo has remained very close since their arrival in Montreal.

“Chris is a funny guy. I appreciate it very much. This nickname suits me. Every day when Juraj and I arrive at the arena, we are together. Chris looks at us and says, « Hey, guys! Look at you guys, you’re still together! » « We are together everywhere and we help each other, » said Mesar. “I like it, and it’s easier for me to be here having my friend with me. »

Xhekaj: « I’m comfortable with rhythm and speed »

Arber Xhekaj continues to prove himself to earn a place in the Canadiens roster.

The towering 6-foot-4, 238-pound defenseman stood out at the 2022 Rookie Tournament in Buffalo, and he continues to do so.

“I feel comfortable on the ice. I’m comfortable with the pace and the speed, and I feel like I’m making good plays and playing my game, so I definitely believe I have a good chance, » pointed out Xhekaj, who helped the Hamilton Bulldogs to win the OHL Championship last season. « I just take things day by day and focus on my next task. »

Video: Arber Xhekaj on his performance at rookie camp

Invited to rookie camp last fall, Xhekaj then earned an invitation to official training camp and soon signed a three-year, two-way deal in October 2021, running through the 2023-24 season.

With three years of junior hockey under his belt, the 21-year-old Hamilton, Ont., native believes the time has come for him to play in the NHL.

“I still believe in myself and I still believe that I am ready. Even last year, I thought I was ready, but they didn’t think so. It’s this state of mind that I have at the start of each camp,” explained Xhekaj, the OHL’s most penalized player last season. “I play with a lot of confidence here. It is important. You have to play with confidence, and if the confidence is not there, my game is not going so well”.

Certainly, Xhekaj was not satisfied with his performance in Buffalo.

But, he is « definitely satisfied » with his efforts in intrasquad games.

« These games were important to me because obviously at rookie camp I wanted to show them my physical side, so sometimes I forgot about the game. I wasn’t very confident in my game. A lot of m They said I played well, but I wasn’t happy with the way I was moving the puck and I wasn’t making plays the way I wanted to. It’s all huge for me and it’s an opportunity to show that I can play,” explained Xhekaj. “All my life I found that when I played with older guys I would rise to their level and increase my level of play, so I definitely found it easier. »

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Arber, all in finesse.These baseball mitts can score.#GoHabsGo | @ArberXhekaj_

Be matched with Jordan Harris also gave him a good helping hand.

Xhekaj is convinced that he is an ideal partner for him.

“We complement each other pretty well. He likes to play offensively, I like to play offensively, and he never makes bad plays or puts me in a bad position,” adds Xhekaj. “We complement each other very well on the ice”.

Caufield and Gallagher score superb goals

There were some great goals on Saturday that are definitely worth watching.

Caufield’s goal for Team A in the opener was superb, as well as giving his side victory.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Cole in slow-mo >Cole in slow-mo >#GoHabsGo

The wizard Brendan Gallagher also scored in that match, for Team C.

Goalkeeper Antoine Coulombe was completely helpless on this sequence.

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: A blistering shot ���Brendan blast #GoHabsGo

Expect more goals Sunday afternoon in the intrasquad game between the Reds and the Whites at the Bell Centre.

The puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET).

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