The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/15/14 at 07:18 AM ET
Updated 2x at 11:04 AM: As I posted on KK's main site, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco may have been the only Slovak players to show up in Slovenia's huge 3-1 upset of the Slovaks this morning. Jurco scored the shutout-spoiling goal and led Slovakia with 5 shots in 14:04 played; Tatar played on the power play and penalty-kill, and while he took an ill-advised penalty, he also had 3 shots and finished at -1 in 14:43 of ice time.
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with the pair after the shocking loss, and they were understandably upset after dropping the game:
"I'm really disappointed," Tatar said. "We are going to get way harder enemy after preliminary round."
The Slovaks will finish among the bottom eight of the 12 teams at the Olympics, and will have to play for the chance to advance into the quarterfinals. Slovakia wasn't expected to grab one of the four byes into the quarterfinals, but to end up as one of the lowest seeds after not even being able to beat Slovenia was upsetting. Team captain Zdeno Chara didn't want to speak long to reporters, merely describing the game as "disappointing."
Tatar, a forward for the Detroit Red Wings, is holding onto hope Slovakia can still make some noise.
"We have to believe in ourselves," he said. "We can see those underdogs can play really well - Latvia, Switzerland, Slovenia beat us. Hopefully we will work on what we did wrong. We just have to be better."
After two games, the Slovaks have just two goals, and have allowed 10. Tatar has been a top-line guy for the Slovaks, and was their best player in the 7-1 loss to the U.S., in which he had the goal.
"It is every exciting experience for me," Tatar said. "I hang out in the village and enjoy the atmosphere, but I wish things were going better for us."
Tatar's teammate, Tomas Jurco, is drawing on his play with the Wings as he enjoys his first Olympics.
"The experience from Detroit helped me and can help me going forward in this tournament," he said. "But it is high tempo here and everyone is good. I am trying to learn something new every shift."
St. James continues...
Update: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose snagged some quotes from the pair as well:
"It was a really bad game for us, but in this competition we are seeing the underdogs playing really, really well,” Slovakia’s Tomas Tatar told the assembled media at Bolshoy. “We will go away and figure out what we need to do and hopefully tomorrow we will be better against Russia.”
Slovakia was dealt a major setback when former Red Wings forward Tomas Kopecky was injured and did not return to the game. With less than 10 minutes left in the first period, Kopecky was hit in the head by Slovene defenseman Sabahudin Kovaceic. Kopecky was wobbly as he tried to get to the bench under his own power. He took just four shifts with his linemates Tomas Jurco and Tatar.
A consolation prize for Slovakia came with 17.8 seconds left when they ended Slovenia’s shutout bid on Jurco’s power-play goal. The NHL rookie became the fourth Red Wings’ player to score in the Sochi Games, joining Tatar, and Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Alfredsson.
“It's not going well for our team,” Jurco told the media, “but hopefully we can shake it up before the next game.”
"I don't think we're thinking of winning the gold medal," said forward Tomas Jurco, whose power-play goal with 17.8 seconds remaining spoiled Kristan's shutout bid. "Everybody knows where we are at.
"I just want to win some games so we can make people proud back home, but so far it is not going well for us. I'm sorry for the people who have to watch it."
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