The Slovakians have given us our first major upset. It only took until the quarterfinals for it to happen.

Timely scoring and superb goaltending pushed the fourth-time Olympians past Sweden 4-3. This is the third-straight Olympics that the defending gold medalists have been knocked out in the quarterfinals (thanks Kenny Albert for that nugget). For the Swedes, this is the second time in the last three Olympics that they have been upset in the quarterfinals (2002 vs. Belarus).

I’m glad to see an upset like this one, but I’m not relieved to know that the Canadians have “an easier road” to the gold medal game. However, the Slovaks have the make-up to stifle the Canadian attack.

Slovakia has a strong top-six, boasting Pavol Demitra (who has been sensational on home ice), Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa. Not to mention, Joszef Stumpel and Ziggy Palffy, who have shown flashes here in Vancouver. The Slovaks checking lines are also strong with the likes of Michal Handzus and Richard Zednik, among others.

The there is the back-end. Zedeno Chara is the obvious anchor, but, Andrej Meszaros and Andrej Sekera have shown no glimpses of their regularly minus play in the NHL. Milan Jurcina’s size makes him a difficult adversary in the d-zone, while Lubomir Visnovsky and Martin Strbak are a serviceable pair as well.

Jarosalv Halak will have to be outstanding to beat the Canadians. I have faith that he can show up for another big game. We will see on Friday.

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