Heading into their game Sunday against Russia, Slovakia looked like one of the most disappointing teams in the Olympic tournament.
After a 1-0 shootout loss to the Russians, defenseman Andrej Meszaros had some regrets about how they opened play in the Olympics as Slava Malamud at IIHF.com shared.
“We talked about playing a full 60 minutes and putting up strong defense,” said Meszaros. “We should have done that two games ago but we didn’t. Our goalie was unbelievable and so was theirs. I wish we could have played that way against USA and Slovenia.”
The Slovaks were punished 7-1 by Team USA and shocked 5-3 by Slovenia. Slovakia lost in the bronze medal game during the 2010 Vancouver Games and appeared to be a country set to bounce back.
Instead, they’ve looked a step or two slow and the play of Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj hasn’t been exceptional. It was Jan Laco who stood on his head against Russia on Sunday to force the game to a shootout.
Slovakia can erase the memories of a poor opening round by beating their rivals from the Czech Republic on Tuesday. The only question they might have regards who to start in goal, but Laco’s play against Russia may have locked that up.
Canada may have pressing questions about the lack of offense from the forwards, the question about who starts in goal never goes away.
Such is the case following Canada’s 2-1 overtime victory against Finland.
Canada coach Mike Babcock was asked about who would get the call in the quarterfinals against the winner of the Switzerland-Latvia qualifier. If Babcock knows who he wants, he wasn’t giving up that information today as Stephen Whyno shared.
When asked if he knows who he’ll start in goal, he answered, “No and won’t tell ya.”
Carey Price earned two starts in round-robin play while Roberto Luongo had one. All three games saw tremendous play from both goalies, but if you have to go out on a limb and guess who starts against either the Swiss or Latvians it has to be Price.
It may not have been a thrilling game to watch, but Canada’s 2-1 overtime win against Finland proved something to the Finns:
They can hang with the best in the world.
Finland captain Teemu Selanne told Olympic News Service that while a loss stinks, he knows they’ve got what it takes to win.
“We realized we can beat these guys,” said Selanne. “Obviously it’s a bad break at the end, but that’s hockey.”
The Finnish roster is a young one, but Selanne understands that hard-fought games like that teach a lesson that can carry them deeper in the tournament.
“When my teammates realized we can compete against these guys, it was a totally different game,” said Selanne. “That was a good confidence boost for us, and we can beat anybody when we play our best. Even with all the injuries that we have. That’s what happens in hockey. Just believe and do your best.”
Finland is without Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula, and now Aleksander Barkov but that hasn’t slowed them down winning two out of three games in round-robin play and earning a bye into the quarterfinals. They’ll face the winner of Russia vs. Norway in that round.