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Red Wings at the Worlds: Tatar registers a goal and an assist for Slovakia, but he’s struggling

Tomas Tatar's Slovaks kept their hopes of making the World Championships' quarterfinals alive today via a 4-1 victory over Italy, but the Good Tatar and the Bad Tatar were equally visible in the parts of the game I was able to watch (thanks to a wonky feed of a Polish broadcast).

The good Tatar scored the Slovaks' 3-0 goal, had an assist on their 4-1 goal, and he co-led the Slovaks with 6 shots in 15:39 of ice time, including a significant amount of time on both the power play and penalty-kill.

The bad Tatar, however, deked himself and Italian goaltender Daniel Bellissimo out of a penalty shot attempt which Tatar literally had to stop because he'd lost control of the puck four feet in front of a slowly-opening net (Bellissimo bit on deke 15 or 16)...

And the bad Tatar took an incredibly stupid penalty with all of 1:25 left in the game, chasing an Italian player up the ice and grabbing and shoving him--while the Slovaks were already down a man--giving Italy a 5-on-3 to close out the affair.

At 24 years of age, Tatar faces the kind of crosswords Jiri Hudler once did: his emotions and passion can either provide a wonderful boost to his game, or they can stifle his skills and yield undisicplined penalties, frustration galore and a significant dip in performance because he gets down on himself so very hard that he occasionally gives up on plays.

He's too small, too slow and too inconsistent to continue to allow himself to be driven by his emotions and ego instead of more professional levels of poise and self-discipline, and while I know that he's incredibly, incredibly frustrated by the fact that this Slovak World Championship team is all but guaranteed to lose in the quarterfinals--assuming that they win Tuesday's game and get some help in the points department--but he needed to take some professional steps forward during this tournament, and instead, it's a step forward and two back every time I watch him play.

IIHF.com's Lukas Aykroyd penned a game recap which explains the Slovaks' situation...

Slovakia still needs to beat Denmark in its final round-robin game to have a chance. And the Slovaks could also use some other help from the Danes. If Denmark beats France in regulation on Monday, that will be a plus. If France gets to 10 points, the Slovaks will be unable to pass them in the standings.

The newly promoted Italians now have just three points and one game left to play against group-leading Sweden. They are eliminated from quarter-finals contention.

And describes Tatar's goal...

Tatar stretched Slovakia’s lead to 3-0 at 14:13 of the second when he exploited a turnover off a draw in the Italian end, sending the puck cross-ice to Miklik and then firing the return pass into a wide-open net. The Slovaks' skill was just too much for their blue-clad opponents.

While noting that Tatar also had a breakaway when the Slovaks were up 1-0...

Tatar almost gave Slovakia a two-goal lead on a breakaway, but Bellissimo foiled the Detroit forward with a poke-check, losing his stick in the process.

And describing his penalty shot as follows:

Tatar was obstructed on a clear break and got a penalty shot with 5:20 remaining, but was unable to outthink Bellissimo, as he ran out of room stickhandling on his attempt.

That's a charitable description of the deke-fest, and at present, Tatar continues to emotionally and literally deke himself out of growing into a player who delivers in the clutch. That's got to change.

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von Awesome's avatar

I think perhaps you are being a bit too hard on him. Although you have the benefit of watching the games. Perhaps he is a bit fatigued?

Posted by von Awesome on 05/17/14 at 06:36 PM ET

Tracy from T-Town Hockey 's avatar

Just as you have mentioned that Abby is trying to herd cats, perhaps too much is being asked of Tatar. Yes it would be nice if he would keep taking steps forward, but that is difficult to do when you have team mates holding you back. Fatigue could also be a factor.

Posted by Tracy from T-Town Hockey on 05/18/14 at 12:53 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Good point. He does look a bit gassed.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/18/14 at 12:57 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.