OGDB Semifinal: Bratislavan Brawl

Jason Gregor
February 26 2010 11:37AM

After crushing Russia on Wednesday, Canada faces an energetic and gutsy Slovakian team with excellent goaltending from Montreal Canadien Jaroslav Halak. But who else is on this team?

They’ve got the Marians _ Gaborik and Hossa — the Human Crane, Zdeno Chara and slick D-man Lubomir Visnovsky, but after that the names are recognizable, but they don’t possess the fear of the Russians.

Still, don’t underestimate the Slovaks.

Pavol Demitra skated like he was 25 years old against Sweden. He won races to the puck and out-skated the Swedes all game. He is tied for the tournament lead with Dany Heatley, Jonathon Toews and Marian Hossa with seven points. The Slovaks are a very proud bunch and tonight will be the biggest game this small country has ever played.

Up front they have the Marians, Demitra, former NHLers Jozef Stumpel, Ziggy Palffy, Richard Zednik, Marcel Hossa, Lubos Bartecko, Branko Radivojevic and Martin Cibak, as well as Michal Handzus (Kings), Miro Satan (Boston) and Tomas Kopecky (Blackhawks).

Their backend consists of Chara, Visnovsky, Andrej Meszaros (Tampa Bay), Andrej Sekera (Buffalo), Milan Jurcina (Columbus), Ivan Baranka (Rangers 2nd rounder in 2003 played one NHL game) and Martin Strbak (Kings’ 9th rounder in 1993, played 49 NHL games).

They seem like a rag-tag bunch made up of NHL stars, former NHLers and current NHL role players, but they play like a team and they won’t quit.

Special stats for Slovaks

Jaroslav Halak will be busy. Canada is averaging 43 shots a game, while the Slovaks will test Roberto Luongo as they have fired 32 shots a game.

Canada will have to be disciplined.

The Slovaks have the best PP in the tournament, scoring seven goals in 19 chances good for 36.8%. Canada is 4th on the PP at 27.2%, with six goals in 22 chances.

Slovakia is also first on the PK at 94.5%. They’ve only allowed one goal on 19 chances, and they have faced the Czechs, Russia and Sweden so far. Canada is 3rd on the PK at 87.5%, having allowed two goals on 16 chances.

Other tidbits

Slovakia has a population of about five million people and is situated in Central Europe. It borders Hungary to the south, Ukraine to the East, Poland to the North and Czech Republic and Austria to the west.

Bratislava is the largest city (429,000) and the capital and they will be hosting the 2011 World Championships. A buddy of mine married a girl from Bratislava and a few buddies of ours went over for the wedding. They swear that Bratislava has the most beautiful women in the world so we are planning a trip for the World Championships next year.

Czech/Slovakia rivalry

Ladislav Smid and Lubomir Visnovsky sit beside each other in the Oiler dressing room and they are constantly exchanging barbs over which country is better. But yesterday Smid admitted that while there is a healthy rivalry between the two, he will be cheering for Slovakia tonight.

“I want to beat them when we (Czech) play them, but once one team is out of the tournament you cheer for the other. It would be great for them if they could upset Canada,” said Smid.

It would be an upset, but I don’t see it happening. You don’t have the angst leading up to tonight like you did against Russia, or on Sunday v. the States (if they can beat Finland), but the Canadians will be ready.

I expect them to dominate down low like they did against Russia, but to this point in the tourney Halak hasn’t allowed a weak goal. Canada will win but they probably won’t get two freebie goals in the first like they did on Wednesday.

Canada wins 5-2 and then the country gets ready to show the United States that this is still our game, and many of you can call or email the Jim Rome show and tell those Yanks a win in the round robin means nothing if you don’t win the GOLD.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
Avatar
#51 Ducey
February 26 2010, 03:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Jim Rome?

The guy has to repeat everything twice (or more)! Usually with a big pause in the middle.

I can never figure out how a Bingo caller got his own radio show.

Avatar
#52 RossCreekNation
February 26 2010, 03:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Ducey

I didn't used to care much for Rome. But about 4 or 5 years ago I did as he said - 'Give him 2 weeks. If you don't like it, give it 2 more'. By week 3, I was hooked. I've since weaned myself some, but still enjoy listening when I can. The "Chris" Evert incident was epic. I remember seeing that on illegal satellite as a youngin... wait, what? I've said too much.

*swigs Jim Jones' kool-aid*

Avatar
#53 Domebeers.com
February 26 2010, 03:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I agree with Pat. Sexism.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

Avatar
#54 Milli
February 26 2010, 04:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

oh man, I can't wait! I've had 3 pregamers already! It's gonna be a little fuzzy by gametime!

Avatar
#55 Dan the Man
February 26 2010, 04:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Ender wrote:

When you think about it, the Gold medal is logically the bigger accomplishment. In the first place, every year one team in 30 wins the Stanley Cup. On the other hand, the Olympics are only once every four years. Mathematically, even if all players were equal you'd have very few chances to go to the Olympics during your playing career.

Secondly, every player on the team gets a piece of a Stanley Cup victory, regardless of their actual contribution. Rookies, bubble players, aging veterans doesn't matter; they get to 'win' the cup. Conversely, you need to be a superstar just to get named to the Canadian team. Much tougher to even get to the game, and most players would never be good enough to qualify. Even once you qualify, winning is a whole other thing and even those superstars who actually make the team one year might well only ever get one shot at it.

Lots of players might get several chances to win a Stanley Cup, but even great players may only ever get one chance for a Gold. I would think that would make it more special.

I wasn't really saying that the Stanley Cup was a bigger accomplishment than a Gold Medal, as you pointed out the Gold Medal is much more difficult to win.

I just think to most Hockey Players the Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize. I could be wrong. I guess we'd have to take a poll to find out for sure but I'd be surprised if more guys chose Olympic Gold over Lord Stanley.

Avatar
#56 Arby
February 26 2010, 04:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Domebeers.com wrote:

I agree with Pat. Sexism.

Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.

I have no idea which Pat you are speaking with, nor what it's in regards to, however I completely support your conclusion.

Avatar
#58 Oilchange64
February 26 2010, 09:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Wow. More than a few sphincters tightened at the end of that one. Great game. Think the fridge will need to be seriously stocked before Sunday....

Avatar
#59 Colin
February 26 2010, 09:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Pathetic 3rd period.

Total let-up. Do that on sunday and it will be a so-so silver for them.

Avatar
#60 Victoria
February 26 2010, 11:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Where's TLP now?

WE'RE COMING FOR YOU, BIOTCHES!

Avatar
#61 Victoria
February 26 2010, 11:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Matt Henderson wrote:

Pierre Maguire on Shea Weber:

"Weber is Adonis on skates."

I'm pretty sure he meant Atlas (for strength), but maybe it was a freudian thing and he actually meant to call Weber the most attractive man on Earth.

I had a good laugh at that one, too.

Was waiting for some sort of elaboration, but I guess it just proves Pierre doesn't think before he opens his trap.

Avatar
#62 VK63
February 27 2010, 12:26AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I wonder if Charles Hamelins getting lucky tonight?

Avatar
#63 Lofty
February 27 2010, 07:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Viz looked good... maybe Tambo will get some more serious offers for him.

Comments are closed for this article.