Jaroslav Halak had a rough time during the Olympics for Slovakia.
He was pulled in a 7-1 loss to Team USA and took a tough 3-1 loss against Slovenia during round-robin play. Following that game he was benched in favor of KHL’er Jan Laco for their final two games of the tournament, losses to Russia and Czech Republic.
Now Halak is back in St. Louis to help the Blues try to win the Stanley Cup and Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch heard from him about what happened in Sochi.
As it turns out, he had a feeling he wouldn’t get a chance to redeem himself for his country.
That’s kind of sad, but when you’re playing goal for a team that was close to winning bronze in 2010 and you lose to Slovenia, things change. Laco playing strong in a 1-0 shootout loss against Russia essentially made the decision for Slovak coach Vladimir Vujtek.
For Blues fans worried he might be hurting confidence-wise heading into the stretch run, Rutherford shares that isn’t the case.
If the Czech Republic is going to get past Slovakia for a match-up against the United States, they’ll likely have to do it without Patrik Elias.
According to Zdenek Janda of iSport in the Czech Republic, Elias will miss the qualifying round game against the Slovaks with an illness. Elias missed the previous game against Switzerland with the same problem.
Elias was not either power play unit during the team’s practice on Monday according to iSport. That points toward him not being able to go for the game on Tuesday. Janda’s report is further evidence of that.
The Czechs’ curious decisions on their roster have provided enough debate fodder already after their mostly disappointing play during the opening round. Now with Elias likely missing this game, those choices will be put under the microscope again.
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.
It hasn’t been a great Olympics for Slovakia’s Jaroslav Halak. After getting blown out by the United States, Slovakia took it on the chin losing 3-1 to Slovenia.
The Slovaks came into the Olympics with high hopes of earning a medal, but as Shawn Roarke of NHL.com shares, he took the heat for today’s loss.
“I think the first goal, that was a really weak goal for me,” said Halak, who was pulled in the game against the Americans. “I think that kind of set the tone for the rest of the period for us. If we’re going to blame somebody, I’ll take the full blame for this loss.”
Slovakia wraps up round-robin play on Sunday against Russia. After Russia’s shootout loss to the United States, that’s not looking like an appealing match-up for a team that’s looked off-kilter in their first two games.
Team USA has the lineup set for their opening match-up against Slovakia (7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN) and Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, and Jimmy Howard won’t be on it.
Those three players will be scratched for the first game of the tournament. Blake Wheeler beat out Stepan as the extra forward and Brooks Orpik edged out Faulk on the blue line. As you heard earlier today, Jonathan Quick will start in goal and Ryan Miller will back him up.
As for the line combinations coach Dan Bylsma will use, here they are according to USA Hockey.
Zach Parise – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Dustin Brown – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Ryan Suter – Paul Martin
Cam Fowler – John Carlson
Ryan McDonagh – Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratches: Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, Jimmy Howard