It’s well known that parents are always right, and Juraj Slafkovsky’s parents have told him that he’s playing a lot better these days.

Which means it’s probably true.

“They called me to tell me that and also to ask me why I’m playing better,” said the 19-year-old striker on Sunday noon in Brossard. I told them I don’t really have an answer…”

This is a shame, because the answer could have filled hours and hours of discussion on one of the 1000 hockey podcasts in this province, but instead of such a response, Slafkovsky still admitted this: he plays with confidence.

“More and more,” he said. There is also experience, which should hardly be neglected, but there is confidence. For example, when to make a play, when not to. Know how to notice where the other players are on the ice, and what they are going to do. Things like that. »

Jokingly, the young striker recalled that he was aiming for the 80-goal mark this season. This nice fantasy will not happen, but if he maintains the current pace, Slafkovsky could conclude the season with around thirty points. Enough, or not enough? We can debate it from May to September, but in the meantime, Martin St-Louis notices a certain form of progress in the game of the man who wears number 20.

“I want him to play a little more freely on the ice,” explained the Montreal coach on Sunday. We saw him on Saturday, he created some good chances, and maybe one or two months ago he wouldn’t have done that. Playing time, for a player like him, is so important. The more these players get, the more the game starts to slow down for them. They see things more clearly. »

There is also the fact that quality confrontations like the one on Saturday evening can make a player grow. Instead of hiding it, Martin St-Louis threw Slafkovsky into the den of the wolf, the wolf here being Connor McDavid, against whom he skated for 13 minutes and 28 seconds during this meeting.

Monday night, it’s the Avalanche and Nathan MacKinnon who will be at the Bell Center, and the Slovak forward will have the opportunity to grow a little more.

“I see what these guys do on the ice, where they go, and I try to incorporate some of their elements into my game. Of course, McDavid makes plays like no one else, but there’s aspects of his game that I can try to use myself. »

Juraj Slafkovsky is also well aware of this slight detail: as a former first pick, the numbers have to follow too. So it’s all well and good quality touches and quality shots and scoring chances on a Tuesday night versus a Thursday, but there are also such things, like a goal and an assist, that are of prime importance .

He is aware of it.

“I feel like my game is improving, but I still need to find ways to create things more often on offense,” he admitted. I have to score more. In the end, that’s all that matters. »