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Red Wings’ Slovakians serve as Thursday’s Olympic bright spots

Pavel Datsyuk, a stick-on-ice player if there ever was one, was grasping his stick with his bottom hand as if his balance depended on it and skating at 70% Pavel speed in 15:09 of ice time during Russia's 5-2 win over Slovenia (Russia's next game is against the U.S. on Saturday at 7:30 AM EST), and Henrik Zetterberg's back may or may not be acting up due to the same herniated disc he's been skating through with the Wings, or he may have a new injury (and Sweden plays Switzerland on Friday at 7:30 AM):

But there was some good news on the Red Wings' Olympic participation front. Tomas Tatar scored Slovakia's only goal in the team's 7-1 loss to the U.S.,  finishing at +1 in 18:03 of ice time, and Tatar and teammate Tomas Jurco (who finished at -1 with 2 of Slovakia's 23 shots in 13:34 of ice time) received absolutely gushy praise from Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire as the fleet-footed bright spots for during a rough Slovakian outing.

Via RedWingsFeed, DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson took note of what we'll call a charitably-refereed goal...

When Tomas Tatar netted a goal to tie the game 1-1 between Slovakia and Team USA, the Red Wings forward pointed towards the sky, no doubt paying tribute to his late father in his Olympic debut.

It was a memorable goal for more than one reason, but it didn’t come without controversy. Chicago’s Marian Hossa corralled the puck at the blue line after a turnover by Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter, and waited for Tatar to scramble back into the neutral zone to avoid an offsides call. But Hossa crossed over the blue line before his younger teammate could clear Team USA’s zone, a violation that wasn’t called and ultimately led to the 23-year-old’s first Olympic goal just 24 seconds into the second period.

But the Slovakians had little time to celebrate, as Tatar’s goal seemed to spark a scoring frenzy among the Americans. Team USA went on a ruthless scoring spree, notching six goals in nearly 14 minutes of play during the second period to take a commanding 7-1 lead that would stand as the game’s final score.

As well as the status of one Jimmy Howard, who may or may not start for the Americans against Russia on Saturday at 7:30 AM...

Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard didn’t dress for the USA’s first group matchup against Slovakia, and forward Tomas Jurco recorded two shots in just over 13 minutes of ice time.

Wings coach Mike Babcock's Canadians will tangle with the Norwegians today at 12 PM EST and Austrians tomorrow at 12 PM, and Tatar, Jurco and Slovakia will try to get back at 'er on Saturday against Slovenia...At 3 AM. Urgh.

Honestly, I didn't know what to do about Emrick, Olczyk and McGuire all praising Tatar as a difference-maker and Jurco as a superb prospect in the making...But I really liked it.

Update: MLive's Brendan Savage points us toward this quote from the AP:

Tomas Tatar scored for Slovakia, which traveled to Sochi without high-scoring Marian Gaborik and veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky due to injury. Nobody anticipated such a defensive collapse by a talented roster anchored by Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Slovakia's last two Olympic appearances have been humiliations: The Slovaks blew a third-period lead and lost to Finland in the bronze medal game in Vancouver, depriving them of their nation's first Olympic hockey medals.

"We're going to be better," said Tatar, the Detroit Red Wings' young forward. "We had a solid first period and then tied it. We've just got to play way better in our defensive zone. I think we're going to be ready to play the next game. We have a lot of talent in our locker room, and we're going to sort it out."

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Tatar and Jurco both looked good out there. Hopefully this will be a big boost for their confidence going forward.

I know its popular around here to hate on the NBC Hockey crew, but I don’t mind the 3 of them. Well, Olczyk is a dick, I will give you that. But I have no real problem with the other two. I don’t feel the anti-Wings bias that is supposed to be there. :\

Posted by lancer on 02/13/14 at 12:03 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I know its popular around here to hate on the NBC Hockey crew, but I don’t mind the 3 of them. Well, Olczyk is a dick, I will give you that. But I have no real problem with the other two. I don’t feel the anti-Wings bias that is supposed to be there. :\

Posted by lancer on 02/13/14 at 11:03 AM ET

Doc and Pierre aren’t anti-Wings.  Some people hate Doc’s predictable style of call and find it annoying (“AND A DRIIIIIIIIIIVE!”... “PITCHFORKED!”).  He’s admittedly gotten worse at that over the years.  And honestly, on-air Pierre generally seems like he’s actively trying to be a caricature of himself, which rubs people wrong.  Occasionally Pierre takes the mask off on-air and is really, really good… and I’ve heard from people that have met him and spoke with him off-air that he’s really neat to talk with and comes across much better.  He’s apparently just trying way too hard on-air.

Olczyk is truly awful though.  Biased, a homer, and often flat-out wrong in his knowledge.  He holds decades-old grudges against certain people and teams.  Even in the face of video evidence contradicting him, he’ll stick with it anyways and fume.  He has no business being on-air anywhere.  God willing he’ll get a coaching job somewhere soon and we’ll be spared more of him,

Glad to hear Tatar and Jurco were good.  I genuinely think the Wings may have their next big-time forward in Tatar, not just another Top 6

Posted by Primis on 02/13/14 at 12:14 PM ET

awould's avatar

Doc is starting to sound like a crazy old coot who just spouts out cliches that sometimes match what’s happening in the game.

Olczyk is truly awful, is biased, often has nothing interesting.

Pierre on tv is the worst. He spends most of the time trying to sound smart by spouting out nuance stuff that nobody cares about and that he can’t possibly know - “I really think they’re energy in the 2nd period is because Crosby stubbed his toe on the way out of the locker room. Really got ‘em riled up!” - but the worst is how much he kisses Olczyk’s ass. On the radio though? Not too bad.

Posted by awould on 02/13/14 at 12:32 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

If Did MadLibs based on his announcing, the list of words would be limited to Driiiiive, ASHOT!, skitters, careening, chipped, swatted, and trickled.

He is truly awful. I cannot understand how people continue to employ him.

His greatest moment:

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 02/13/14 at 01:00 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.