Sochi Preview: Slovenia vs. Slovakia; Kopitar (Feb.15/14; 12am PST)
Photo credit: AP Photo/Julio Cortez
They put up one heck of a fight against Russia on Thursday and now Slovenia looks determined to pick up their first win of the tournament. But to do that, they will have to go up against a Slovakian squad still steaming over their 7-1 debacle against the United States in their tournament opener. On paper, Slovakia may have the better team but they may also pose as Slovenia's best chance for a win this week.
After notching an assist in his country's loss to the Russians the other morning, Anze Kopitar wants to add a goal or two to his record in Sochi. After allowing five goals to the US on Thursday, Slovak netminder Jaroslav Halak may not be the number-one guy. Instead, Montreal's Peter Budaj may get the nod instead - although he did give up two goals to the Americans in his one period of action.
Despite their lopsided loss, however, Slovakia's line of Marian Hossa, Tomas Tatar and former King Michal Handzus did score their country's only goal on Thursday and are primed to light the lamp a few more times. Slovenian netminder Robert Kristan might have different ideas as he was a significant reason for keeping the Russians at bay for the first two periods making 30 saves in the loss.
Both teams are looking for the first win and, more importantly, hoping to avoid finishing last in Pool A. This one should really separate the men from the boys - in a way.
Enjoy the game!