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U.S. turns to Quick in opener against Slovakia

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 9:48 AM

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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U.S. turns to Quick in opener against Slovakia
Slovakia vs. United States

UNITED STATES vs. SLOVAKIA

When: Thursday, 7:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN, TSN)

Where: Shayba Arena

What's at stake: This is the opening game for both teams in Group A and each would like to set a tone right out of the gate. For Slovakia it is an opportunity to prove its appearance in the bronze-medal game four years ago was not a fluke. For the Americans it is a chance to show the big ice will not be a storyline as the games take place on the wider ice surface favored in Europe.

United States: Four years ago Jonathan Quick was the third goaltender for the United States in Vancouver. Since then Quick has won a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy and played in back-to-back Western Conference Finals for the Los Angeles Kings. And when the U.S. comes out for its opening game at 2014 Sochi Olympics, Quick will be leading the way.

American coach Dan Bylsma told Quick at practice Wednesday that the goaltender will make the start against Slovakia.

"It was pretty casual," Quick said. "We were on the ice stretching and he just came over and said it. We have three great goalies on this team and everyone wants to start. I'm just fortunate for the opportunity and want to make the best of it."

The Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller, the MVP of the 2010 Olympic tournament and the starting goaltender in Vancouver, will be the backup and could start Friday against Russia. Bylsma insisted his decision to start Quick is for the Slovakia game only.

"It was the coach's decision," Miller said. "Obviously I want to play and compete and do my part. Right now I will just back up Jon. He's a great goalie and he is going to do great for us. We'll see where it goes from here and I'll just be ready to play."

Slovakia: Losing top-line forward Marian Gaborik (Columbus Blue Jackets) and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (New York Islanders), who likely would have quarterbacked their top power-play unit, will make a difficult path to a medal even tougher for Slovakia. But Slovakia wasn't considered much of a medal contender four years ago and the team got all the way to the bronze-medal game.

Along the way they beat Russia in group play and Sweden in the quarterfinals. And taking down a few more giants of international hockey is something the team is focused on.

"I don't think we will ever be among the favorites," captain Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins told the IIHF website. "We won't go into the World Championships or into any kind of tournaments as a favorite. But we do have potential and when we play as a team, as we have shown before, we can be a very strong team. But honestly, to predict who will win or even who will be the toughest team to beat is hard."

Replacing Gaborik is forward Branko Radivojevic, a 1999 third-round pick (No. 93) of the Colorado Avalanche who played six seasons in the League with the Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild and currently plays in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Taking Visnovsky's spot is Tomas Starosta, who plays in the KHL and will be taking part in his first Olympics.

What's next: Group A play continues for both teams Saturday. The United States faces Russia in a game that could decide the top spot in the group, which provides for a better position in the quarterfinal round. Slovakia plays Slovenia, which is taking part in its first Olympic hockey tournament. Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is the team's only NHL representative.

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Slovakia
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
61 M. Bartovic 6'0" 194 4/9/1981 Trencin, SVK
26 M. Handzus CHI 6'5" 215 3/11/1977 Banska Bystrika, SVK
88 Marcel Hossa 6'2" 218 10/12/1981 Ilava, SVK
81 Marian Hossa CHI 6'1" 210 1/12/1979 Stará Lubovna, SVK
13 T. Jurco DET 6'2" 193 12/28/1992 Kosice, SVK
82 T. Kopecky FLA 6'3" 203 2/5/1982 Ilava, SVK
65 T. Marcinko 6'4" 207 4/11/1988 Poprad, SVK
91 M. Miklik 6'0" 198 7/31/1982 Piestany, SVK
85 P. Ölvecky 6'2" 214 10/11/1985 Nove Zamky, SVK
28 R. Panik TBL 6'1" 208 2/7/1991 Martin, SVK
92 B. Radivojevic 6'0" 207 11/24/1980 Piešťany, SVK
43 T. Surovy 6'1" 216 9/24/1981 Banska Bystrica, SVK
90 T. Tatar DET 5'10" 186 12/1/1990 Ilava, SVK
67 T. Zaborsky 5'11" 201 11/14/1987 Trencin, SVK
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
7 I. Baranka 6'2" 203 5/19/1985 Ilava, SVK
33 Z. Chara BOS 6'9" 255 3/18/1977 Trencin, SVK
68 M. Jurcina 6'4" 251 6/7/1983 Liptovský Mikuláš, SVK
52 M. Marincin EDM 6'4" 188 2/18/1992 Kosice, SVK
14 A. Meszaros PHI 6'2" 223 10/13/1985 Považská Bystrica, SVK
44 A. Sekera CAR 6'0" 201 6/8/1986 Bojnice, SVK
19 T. Starosta 6'0" 196 5/20/1981 Trencin, SVK
23 R. Vydareny 6'1" 203 5/6/1981 Bratislava, SVK
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
31 P. Budaj MTL 6'1" 192 9/18/1982 Banska Bystrika, SVK
41 J. Halak STL 5'10" 186 5/13/1985 Bratislava, SVK
250 J. Laco 5'11" 183 12/1/1981 Liptovsky Mikulas, SVK
United States
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
42 D. Backes STL 6'3" 221 5/1/1984 Minneapolis, MN
23 D. Brown LAK 6'0" 212 11/4/1984 Ithaca, NY
24 R. Callahan NYR 5'11" 180 3/21/1985 Rochester, NY
88 P. Kane CHI 5'11" 181 1/19/1988 Buffalo, NY
17 R. Kesler VAN 6'2" 202 8/31/1984 Livonia, MI
81 P. Kessel TOR 6'0" 202 10/2/1987 Madison, WI
74 T.J. Oshie STL 5'11" 189 12/23/1986 Warroad, MN
67 M. Pacioretty MTL 6'2" 219 11/20/1988 New Canaan, CT
9 Z. Parise MIN 5'11" 190 7/28/1984 Minneapolis, MN
8 J. Pavelski SJS 5'11" 190 7/11/1984 Plover, WI
26 P. Stastny COL 6'0" 205 12/27/1985 Quebec City, QC, CAN
12 D. Stepan NYR 6'0" 196 6/18/1990 Hastings, MN
21 J. van Riemsdyk TOR 6'3" 200 5/4/1989 Middletown, NJ
28 B. Wheeler WPG 6'5" 205 8/31/1986 Robbinsdale, MN
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
4 J. Carlson WSH 6'3" 212 1/10/1990 Colonia, NJ
72 J. Faulk CAR 6'0" 215 3/20/1992 South St. Paul, MN
3 C. Fowler ANA 6'1" 196 3/5/1991 Farmington Hills, MI
7 P. Martin PIT 6'1" 200 3/5/1981 Elk River, MN
27 R. McDonagh NYR 6'1" 213 6/13/1989 St. Paul, MN
44 B. Orpik PIT 6'2" 219 9/26/1980 Amherst, NY
22 K. Shattenkirk STL 5'11" 207 1/29/1989 Greenwich, CT
20 R. Suter MIN 6'1" 198 1/21/1985 Madison, WI
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
35 J. Howard DET 6'0" 218 3/26/1984 Syracuse, NY
39 R. Miller BUF 6'2" 175 7/17/1980 East Lansing, MI
32 J. Quick LAK 6'1" 218 1/21/1986 Milford, CT