Keeping it short today, which makes it good news that today’s 2014 Olympic roster preview is none other than the newest nation to join the Olympic ranks, Team Slovenia.
Led by top forwards Jan Mursak (Amur, KHL) and Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles, NHL), Team Slovenia does have a few big names upfront. Sadly, this won’t save them from likely finishing as the worst team in the tournament. Defeating Belarus, Ukraine, and Denmark in the Olympic qualifiers thanks to stellar goaltending from Robert Kristan (Nitra, Slovak Extraliga), the Slovenian team is participating in their first Olympic ice hockey event in history and will likely find themselves towards the bottom of the table.
But that doesn’t mean the team is all bad. The Slovenian forwards are highly underrated by many looking at the team. While they are led by Kopitar and Mursak, the offensive group also features David & Marcel Rodman, who combined for 6 points in 3 games at the qualifiers, and Jan Urbas, who had 4 points in the 3 games. Look for Urbas and the Rodman brothers to put up a few goals in the Olympics next to Mursak and Kopitar, but don’t expect any 4 or 5 goal nights from the Slovenians.
On defense, the team is quite weak. In the qualifiers they left Robert Kristan out to dry for about 30 shots per game, and he had to stand on his head to keep the team from giving up their small leads. However, Slovenia’s penalty kill went 21 for 22 (95.4%) in their 3 qualifying games, giving up only 1 goal to the Belarusian squad in their first game.
While the team can find positives when looking at some parts of their roster, the fact of the matter is that this Slovenian team simply does not have the talent to finish anywhere near the middle of the pack. If Team Slovenia doesn’t finish dead last, I think we’ll all be extremely surprised.