MONTREAL – Jiri Sekac has been a revelation for the Canadiens this season.
The 22-year-old winger has turned plenty of heads in his short time in La Belle Province, demonstrating the same skill, finesse and intensity that impressed the Habs’ brass when they came across the former KHL standout while he was plying his trade overseas for HC Lev-Praha.
With six goals and 12 points in 24 games, Sekac currently ranks inside the Top 10 in scoring on the team, and he’s growing more and more poised and self-assured every time he suits up.
“Well, I was hoping that I could score over here, too. I always needed a lot of confidence to settle down a little bit in front of the net. I think I finally got that. You could see that in the last game,” offered Sekac, who registered the first multi-goal game of his NHL career on Friday night in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at the Bell Centre. “Hopefully, it’ll give me even more confidence and the goals are going to keep coming.”
Sekac left zero doubt about that when he capped a terrific individual effort with the Canadiens’ sixth and final goal against the Kings. It was a highlight-reel tally that demonstrated just how relentless and resourceful the young Czech phenom really is. That being said, he’s also a fairly humble kid, too.
“Everyone wants to prove themselves. In my case, I just have to keep working hard and I think everything else will come eventually,” confided Sekac, who also boasts two power play goals, 26 shots on goal and 10 penalty minutes with the Habs in 2014-15. “You always think about your individual success. But, it’s my first year so I just need to stick to working well. I think if I do that, the points will be there.”
Sekac will also be the first one to tell you that playing on a line with veteran pivot Tomas Plekanec and fellow young gun Sven Andrighetto over the past two games has helped to spark his play.
“Every game, [the chemistry] on the line is getting better and better. Hopefully, we’ll keep up the good work and the goals are going to be there,” offered Sekac, who fully appreciates lining up alongside the likes of two exceptionally talented players. “Sven is pretty skilled and fast. He has a lot of hockey sense. Pleky played with Chucky and Gally, so he’s probably used to having these types of players with him, young players on his lines. He’s a mentor. He’s good at it.”
Sekac’s success at the NHL level comes as no surprise to veteran Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, who played with Sekac in the KHL during the lockout back in 2012-13.
“Jiri’s a big body guy. He’s a great skater for just how big he is. He’s got a long reach. Plus, he’s very smart. He’s got all of the tools to be very effective in this league,” praised Voracek, who currently sits second in the NHL with 37 points. “If he keeps his work ethic going, which I don’t think he has a problem with, he’ll be good. In my opinion, he can score 30 goals. He’s got good size. He’s got a good shot. He can create a lot of space for himself and his teammates.
“The way he covers the puck is also very impressive,” added Voracek, who worked out with Sekac in Montreal last summer leading into training camp. “He’s very smart in the corners and on the boards. When he turns around from the play, he really covers the puck well with his body. He uses his reach to make it even harder for defenders to pull the puck off of him. That’s the biggest thing, and it’s very useful on small ice. I’m sure he can be very successful.”
Voracek also insists that Sekac’s quick transition to the NHL ranks is a by-product of his demeanor and calm and cool personality, attributes that have enabled him to overcome any and all obstacles in his way, including taking in seven straight games from the press box earlier this year.
“He’s just so easy going. He really enjoys every moment of his life. He’s really appreciative of the opportunity to play in the NHL. I think that’s the best reward for a guy like that,” mentioned Voracek. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him mad. He likes to have fun with his friends. He’s an easy-going guy. He always smiles. Those guys don’t come around very often because he’s such a good person. It’s good to see him make it.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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