If T.J. Oshie is now an Olympic hero, than Jaroslav Halak might be an Olympic goat.
That’s the harsh but true reality facing the St. Louis Blues netminder. Anyone who has been at least casually following the Winter Games knows that Slovakia has struggled to win games.
They came into the preliminary round looking forward to competing for a Gold medal after a strong showing in Vancouver in 2010. Now it seems that they might not even be able to make it into the medal round at all. They’ve yet to win a game in these Olympics, now having lost to the United States (understandable) and Slovenia (not so much).
If you were a betting man and you put a few bucks on Slovenia prior to this game, then you made a lot of money. The Slovenians ice one NHL player and were mostly afterthoughts coming into the Winter Games. Never winning a single Olympic contest in history makes for a pretty good underdog.
So does only having less than 200 adult male hockey players registered with your nation. Heading into the tournament, the IIHF had Slovenia ranked 14th. They just beat the fourth-place team from the 2010 games. That’s a huge upset.
Halak buckled to the Slovenians in one of the most unforeseen international outcomes in recent memory. This is Slovenia’s Miracle on Ice—the first time they’ve won on this stage. That they were able to down Slovakia only makes it sweeter. For Anze Kopitar and Co. at least.
It was the Blue’s No. 1 goalie that yielded three goals on 31 shots. While Slovakia’s offense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain either, Halak took the loss hard. He spoke to Shawn Roarke of NHL.com and had this to say about the defeat:
I think the first goal, that was a really weak goal for me. I think that kind of set the tone for the rest of the period for us. If we’re going to blame somebody, I’ll take the full blame for this loss.
Getting pulled against the Americans in the first game of the prelims is likely still weighing on the netminder as well.
One member of the Blues is on top of the hockey world right now while another is in the doldrums. That’s the magic and misery of the Olympics. Heroes are born overnight and struggles are amplified. Over the last week, Halak has been playing poorly and he knows it.
Will that effect how he plays once he returns to St. Louis? Time will tell.
For more Blues content, check out BleedinBlue.com.