Sun Prediction: 7th
Frantisek Hossa has his hands full.
The coach of Slovakia is going to have to deal with an issue that may not be as a big problem for anybody else: What style is his country going to play?
Look, putting the puck in the net isn't going to be a problem for Slovakia. It usually isn't. But keeping the opposition off the scoreboard is a major problem which is going to influence the attack in a big way.
"That's always been the biggest debate for us," said Ottawa Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara. "What's our style going to be? And it seems like everybody has an opinion. At the world championships, we had one group of players go in and say, 'We should be playing this way.' And then we'd have another group go in and say, 'Nah, we should be playing this way.' That's what everybody is talking about in Slovakia right now. Let's face it, we have a lot of good, offensive players."
Naming the players who can score goals on the Slovakia roster isn't a problem. Atlanta Thrashers winger Marian Hossa, son of coach Frantisek Hossa, heads a roster that includes Richard Zednik, Peter Bondra, Pavol Demitra, Michal Handzus and Marian Gaborik among others.
But, a look at the defence indicates there's going to be problems. GM Peter Stastny and coach Hossa are going to have to rely on Chara to play 35-to-40 minutes per-night because the rest are average NHL players who don't play big roles with their own teams.
Colorado Avalanche back-up Peter Budaj will start in goal, another huge question mark for the Slovakians, who nevertheless like their medal chances.
"We feel like we've got a team that can compete," said Chara. "I know that people are going to think we're a long shot because they're going to look at our team and think we don't have the talent to get the job done.
"We all think that our team has a good chance at having success because we've got guys who can put the puck in the net, they're going to be able to use their speed and it's a short tournament. It's not like we have to win a whole bunch of games to win a gold medal. We've just got to give ourselves a chance."
One big bonus for Slovakia this time around is they won't have to play in the qualification round. In Salt Lake City, Stastny spent so much time shuffling players in and out of the lineup he got to a point where he was unable to put Chara on the roster for a game because he needed to save room for the medal round that Slovakia never made.
"It was tough for us in Salt Lake City because we never had a roster that was settled," said Chara. "This time, we're going to have everybody and we're going to be a team everybody should watch."