Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco blocks a shot on goal during a training session at the Bolshoy Ice Dome at the the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Slovak stunner: Laco starts over Budaj, Halak

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Goaltender Jaroslav Halak suggested he was to blame for Slovakia’s stunning 3-1 loss to Slovenia on Saturday, and perhaps his head coach agreed.

The Slovaks are going with KHL netminder Jan Laco for their final group game against the Russians on Sunday, the team announced. Halak will serve as the backup while Montreal’s Peter Budaj is a healthy scratch, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman.

As mentioned, Halak shouldered the load following the aforementioned defeat to Slovenia.

“I think the first goal, that was a really weak goal for me,” he said following the game. “I think that kind of set the tone for the rest of the period for us.”

Halak had previously been pulled during Slovakia’s match against America, so it wasn’t shocking when the team decided to go with someone else today. What is surprising is they passed over Budaj, the only other NHL goalie on the roster.

This might end badly for Slovakia, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The game against Slovenia was Slovakia’s best chance earn a win. Now they’re in serious danger of ending this tournament at the bottom of the rankings.


After shocking loss to Slovenia, Slovakia looks to rebound against Russia

Is Slovakia on the decline as a hockey nation?

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.