If you don't know which is which, you either didn't watch the games last night or, like Derek, you're in denial. Derek was so distraught by Finland's performance yesterday that he refused to write either the game-day thread or the post-game thread. Do you hear that Finland? Even Derek has given up on you. The Slovakians, meanwhile nearly converted me last night. I found myself oddly excited when the score tightened up to 3-2 and when Pavol Demitra had the puck at the side of the Canadian goal there were conflicting twinges of relief and disappointment when Luongo made the save. This Slovakian team deserves an Olympic medal and after the jump we'll look at the reasons why.
So why should you cheer for Slovakia?
1. Flames v. Oilers. That should be enough right there. Someone on the Oilers should really win something this year and none of us really want to see an Ethan Moreau King Clancy repeat or dwell on the fact that the guy taking home a medal is Kevin Lowe. The only way to prevent this is by cheering for Lubomir Visnovsky. Come on LU-BO!
2. Miikka Kiprusoff. This only seems like the same reason as the first. But Kipper was a real jerk about these Olympics. Speaking publicly about only coming to the Olympics if you're the starter. Pfft. Jerk. When the broadcast crew pointed out that no one gave him a pat on the pads after that terrible giveaway on the first American goal, it said something - something bad - about how his teammates feel about him.
3. The Slovaks actually won some games. So far in the tournament the Slovaks have wins over Latvia, Norway, Russia and Sweden with losses to Canada and the Czechs. The Finns have wins over Germany, Belarus and the Czechs. They lost to Sweden and the Americans. The team who beat two tournament favourites is clearly more medal-worthy.
4. Last Chance Texaco. Realistically, this is Slovakia's last chance for a long time and this group of players deserves an Olympic medal. As Bruce pointed out yesterday, they were screwed out of a spot in the tournament in 1998 and 2002. The famous Finns just won silver last year. They don't need this thing.
5. Did you see the games yesterday? Which of those two teams deserves a medal. Slovakia's two losses have been close well-fought games. Finland's have been pathetic. 3-0 to Sweden and 6-1 to the Americans. They've been mostly awful against quality clubs.
So let's all cheer for the Slovaks! For Ziggy Palffy and Josef Stumpel! For Pavol Demitra and Marian Hossa! For one-legged Gaborik! For the monster Chara! For the soon-to-be-Oiler Jaroslav Halak (I can dream)! Let's go Slovakia!