Slovenia forward Anze Kopitar, left, hugs goaltender Robert Kristan after Slovenia beat Slovakia 3-1 in a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey )

Kopitar: Slovenians will remember this win long after we’re retired


Anze Kopitar already had a pretty impressive resume. He was the first Slovenian player in the NHL, has been named to two All-Star teams, and has won the Stanley Cup, but today’s 3-1 win against Slovakia could be one of the things he’s most known for in his home country long after his career is over.

It might not seem like a big deal compared to his other feats, but for a nation of a little more than two million people to come away with a win in its first ever trip to the Olympics, this is a special moment.

“It’s going to stick with us for a long long time and probably stick with Slovenian hockey long after we’re done playing,” Kopitar said, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott.

We got our first indication that something like this could happen when Slovenia held its own at times against Russia. While that was largely looked at in the context of what it said about the Russian squad, Slovenia has shown that it’s capable of more than what many would assume.

Perhaps it helps that, unlike Russia, which has the weight of a nation on its shoulders, or Slovakia, which was trying to live up to its impressive fourth place finish in 2010, Slovenia entered these games with rock bottom expectations.

“I don’t think the guys were nervous, not against Russia, not against Slovakia today, because we don’t have anything to lose,” said 34-year-old forward Tomaz Razingar, per the Olympic News Service.

He was playing in Sweden’s second-tier hockey league before the Olympics. He scored the opening goal against Jaroslav Halak.

“It’s kind of a miracle, but we know inside the locker room that we have good hockey players who can play at the top level,” said 30-year-old goaltender Robert Kristan.

He plays hockey in the Slovak league and today turned aside 27 of 28 shots, including four from Marian Hossa.

Slovenia’s next game is against the United States and it’s likely that this win will be the highlight of the tournament for Slovenia. Even still, if nothing else, Kopitar is hoping at least one thing comes from all of this.

“I hope now they’re not going to mix us up with Slovakia anymore,” he said.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: