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Gaborik likely to miss Slovakia's first two games

Tuesday, 02.16.2010 / 12:00 AM / All-Access Vancouver

By John Dellapina - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Gaborik likely to miss Slovakia's first two games
As if Slovakia didn't have enough on its plate, it appears as goal-scorer Marian Gaborik won't suit up until the Saturday's round-robin finale.
VANCOUVER – As if Slovakia didn't have enough on its Olympic plate what with assignment to the toughest Group and a bracing opening game against arch-rival Czech Republic on Wednesday, it now appears as if goal-scoring machine Marian Gaborik won't suit up until the Saturday's round-robin finale against Latvia.

According to Slovakian team doctor Dalimir Jancovic, Gaborik still has significant weakness in his right leg and difficulty fully flexing his knee one week after a collision in practice with New York Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist left him with a deep skate gash to his lower thigh.

"I think he needs without training three days still," Jancovic told NHL.com.

That would be a major blow to a Slovakian team that must play the Czech Republic and Russia in its first two games in Group play Wednesday and Thursday.  While all 12 teams in Group play will advance to the one-and-done portion of the tournament, only the top four teams will receive byes into the quarterfinals. And the lower a team finishes in Group play, the more difficult an opponent it will draw once the elimination games begin.

The news wasn't all bad for Slovakia today, though.

Marian Hossa, the team's other elite scorer, surprised even himself by making it through the entire practice three days after a high hit from Atlanta's Colby Armstrong left him wobbly and unable to play in the Chicago Blackhawks' final NHL game before the Olympic break on Sunday.

"Today I did a little bike test and I didn’t have any headaches, so I decided to skate for the first 20 or 25 minutes," Hossa said. "But it felt pretty good, so I stayed out for the whole practice. Basically, I didn't go hard – I went 60-70 percent.

"But if I'm going to feel pretty good in the next hour that's a good sign. (Tuesday) I have to do some tests with the doctor. And if I pass those tests, I should be cleared to play."