Tuesday, December 29, 2009

V2010: Slovakia

It must be said that Slovakia will have some outstanding firepower in an offense led by Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik and solid defense anchored by Norris winner in Zdeno Chara. But that that doesn't mean that this roster is going to win a medal.

Slovakia will not have an easy go of it in Vancouver but certainly has a chance to survive the first round if they can open with a win in the grudge match against the Czech Republic on February 17th. You can preeeeetty much guarantee a loss against Russia on the 18th (I'll be there!) but a win over the Latvians on the 20th is very possible.

Gabby should be great playing with Hossa but you have to be holding your breath every second of every one of his shifts for who will be the Jarkko Ruutu to his Jaromir Jagr. Hossa has been nothing short of outstanding since coming back from injury for Chicago and should be bolstered by his brother Marcel. The lesser Hossa, the former Ranger, is spending his second season playing with Dinamo Riga in Latvia and - you had better sit down for this - is averaging a point per game this season. Yep, Marcel Hossa: 24 goals, 14 assists in 37 games. Our summer signing of Tyler Arnason, by the way, left Harford and is playing with Marcel on Riga and has five points in 12 games. Glad we spent money on that guy.

But I digress, back to the Slovaks: Gabby will have former Wild teammates Branko Radivojevic and Pavol Demitra, if Demitra ever gets healthy. Aside from those guys, Ziggy Palffy will get to show the world how much gas he has left, Miroslav Satan will show the NHL what they are missing (no one wanted to sign poor Miro this summer, boo hoo) and Richard Zednik will show the NHL that he doesn't miss them. All in all, the wings have some fire and some firepower but the Slovaks will be weak down the middle with Demitra (maybe), Michal Handzus, Jozef Stumpel and Martin Cibak.

The blueline won't be weak, not with Chara there. Bruins fans will likely be pissed as the Slovaks will call upon the big man to play some big minutes. He will have some help though, with Lubomir Visnovsky there to move the puck and the Andrejs - Meszaos and Sekera - to help stop it. Milan Jurcina has to be happy to hear that he was included on the team, what with Washington banishing him to Columbus yesterday in the deal for Jason Chimera. Ranger fans may remember Richard Lintner from back in the dark days of the 2002-03 season but really, he wasn't very good.

The final wall of defense will be shared by two goaltenders who have been trying but have never outright won starting jobs in the NHL - Peter Budaj and Jaro Halak. Halak, at times, is outstanding and Budaj, well, he has an outstanding mask. The third guy, Rastislav Stana, is a nobody. And all in all nobody should look past this Slovak side but it would be a bit surprising if they were to make it out of Vancouver with a medal.

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