The Slovaks look to respond after an awful tournament debut as they take on Slovenia who gave the host Russians a scare in their tournament opener.
Slovakia finished in fourth place at the 2010 Games in Vancouver and were considered a dark horse team to make a push once again this year but an eye opening experience against the Americans in their tournament opener has the Slovaks reeling and praying for a better effort here today. Slovakia gave up seven goals to the United States and for Jaroslav Halak that is very uncharacteristic as the Blues goaltender is traditionally very strong in international competition but perhaps a rebound against the Slovenians is what he and the team needs. It is clear the strength of the Slovak team comes from the crease and the blue line and with their lone goal against the US being indicative of that it was the seven they let slip the other way that has the team in disarray and they’ll need a better effort in this one if they want to keep their Olympic dreams intact.
Slovenia is the biggest longshot of the tournament coming in but they showed why they landed a spot in these Games as they gave the Russians all they could handle in the tournament opener and their only NHL talent in Anze Kopitar was brilliant for 60 minutes. Slovenia will look to play spoiler here against the Slovaks who could very well find themselves in an inopportune position come playoff time and with the way the top ends teams are playing their Games could come to an end very shortly if they can’t turn things around. Zdeno Chara has to be better in the defensive end and as a captain as a message to the rest of the team to pick up their game was surely imminent following their loss and we will see how the team responds head into this contest. The problem here is that Slovakia are three goal favourites against the Slovenians which at the beginning of the tournament would look like a gift but the parity so far in these Games has been tight as teams like Latvia and Norway are hanging around more than expected. While the Slovenians don’t have a ton of talent they do have one of the best in the world in Kopitar and while I don’t think they win the game I do think they can keep things relatively close.