Team Slovakia hockey preview: Somewhere in the middle

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Team Slovakia hockey

A little over half of Team Slovakia hockey is playing in the NHL, yet the talent level is somewhere in between great and mediocre. The Hossa brothers Marian and Marcel accent the skill of the team, but their skill levels are on opposite ends of the spectrum for Slovakia.

Slovakia made a miracle run to the Final Four in 2010 before losing to Canada in the semifinals. To make it that far again, stealing points and wins from the U.S. and Canada may be a must.

Forwards

The Hossas, Michal Handzus, Tomas Kopecky, Richard Panik, and Tomas Surovy have the most experience in international play. There is a strong possibility that team captain Marian Gaborik, who is recovering from a broken collarbone. If he manages to heal at a shocking rate then the Slovaks may have a chance to surprise.

The death of former captain Pavol Demitra in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team plane crash also took a good chunk of the team’s scoring from 2010 and the team’s unquestioned leader.

Defense

Team Slovakia hockey has a decent mix of youth and experience on the back end. Zdeno Chara and Lubomir Visnovsky anchor the defense with Andrej Meszaros and Andrej Sekera making a legitimate second pairing. If the top two pairings are set up as so, then Slovakia could compete with an offensive-defensive mindset.

Martin Marincin is the other NHLer on the blueline and should see minutes on the third pairing.

The D corps may not be the best in the tournament, but it could be much worse.

Goaltending

Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj are NHL holdovers from the Vancouver Olympics team and will be the 1-2 combo in net. Halak has been an important piece in the St. Louis Blues’ success over the past few seasons and has the ability to steal games. Budaj is a solid backup on a team with limited goalie resources.

Group A opponents

USA, Slovenia, Russia

Project group finish

3rd– 4 points

Final projection

5th

Follow Jeff on Twitter @sckih_ffej for more sports and entertainment ramblings. Jeff also contributes fantasy advice for The Fantasy Fix.

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