Monday, August 5, 2013

Sochi 2014 Preview: Team Slovakia

BY: Patrick Scebba (@MTLDriveFor25)

As we draw closer to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, most of us are all really looking forward to see who will be winning the gold medal. Like some people, I’ve always been a fan of watching the world’s top players face off in one of the biggest stages you’ll ever see. It’s a lot of fun to see all these all-star players play together. At HabsAddict.com's request, I’m going to be reviewing Team Slovakia.

Team Slovakia is looking good. Coming off a fourth place finish in Vancouver 2010, The Slovaks have opened some eyes recently, winning silver medal in last year’s IIHF World Hockey Championships. Team Slovakia looks to rebound with another strong showing in Sochi.
Here is my prediction of the final roster:
Forwards:
  • Marian Hossa - Tomas Kopecky - Marian Gaborik
  • Mario Bliznak - Michal Handzus - Miroslav Satan
  • Martin Cibak - Tomas Tatar - Richard Panik
  • Stefan Ruzicka - Jozef Stumpel - Branko Radivojevic
  • Marcel Hossa
Defense:
  • Zdeno Chara - Lubomir Visnovsky
  • Andrej Sekera - Andrej Meszaros
  • Milan Jurcina - Ivan Baranka
Goaltenders:
  • Jaroslav Halak
  • Peter Budaj
  • Jaroslav Janus

If Slovakia wants to continue its success this season, they will have to rely on their strong core of defenseman and very skillful offense. The team will look to captain Zdeno Chara as the key guy running the Slovak blue line. 
Chara, coming off a Stanley Cup loss, is arguably one of the world’s best defenseman. At a frightening six foot, nine inches, 255 pounds there is no getting by this guy. His ability to see the puck and shut down the opposition's top forward line is incredible. 
Up front it will be up to 2-time Stanley Cup champion Marian Hossa and Blue Jackets forward, Marian Gaborik. Hossa notching 31 points in 40 games with the Blackhawks this year, and is the Slovaks most dangerous offensive weapon. Gaborik scoring 27 points in 47 games (NYR + CBJ), and looking to make a statement for the Slovaks.
This tournament will be tough for Slovakia, but if they can play to their full potential, they have a shot at advancing to the medal round.
Here is a look at the Groups:
Group A – Russia, Slovakia, United States, Slovenia
Group B – Finland, Canada, Norway, Austria
Group C – Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia
How it works:
The format will be the same as in Vancouver 2010. The four teams with the best records (the group winners and the second-place team with the best record) advance to the quarterfinals; the remaining eight teams will play a qualification game.
It looks pretty tough for Slovakia to get into the quarterfinals. I think if they play their best hockey, it’s definitely possible.

My prediction: Slovakia finishes 6th overall. 

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