International Ice Hockey Federation

Tatar accepts any role

Tatar accepts any role

Slovak forward here to help

Published 10.05.2015 15:45 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Tatar accepts any role
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 6: Slovakia's Tomas Tatar #90 turns to follow the play during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
With a loss last night to Finland, Slovakia is now hanging on in their attempt to earn a spot through to the quarterfinals of the 2015 IIHF World Championships.

Slovakia faces a big challenge today playing against Russia.

To do that they will need more offensive production and Tomas Tatar fill the bill. It won’t be easy but Tatar understands the seriousness of the matter.

“We’re not Canada or the United States so for us every night is a battle,” said Tatar about his team’s prospects. “It is not an easy game for us. Everybody has to play their role on this team. We have to focus and keep playing.”

Slovakia has only scored 11 goals in five games in this tournament. Slovakia's best-known sniper Marian Gaborik has two goals while Tatar has yet to get one. Slovakia will need Gaborik and Tatar to produce over these final two games of the round.

This season with the Detroit Red Wings, Tatar scored a career-high 29 goals, including nine on the power play. At 24, Tatar seems not only to have earned a place in the Red Wings line-up but one where he is a top six forward whose upside has not yet been reached.

This is Tatar’s fourth time representing Slovakia at the World Championship. He was a member of the silver medal winning team in 2012. Even with this prior experience, Tatar still found it someone difficult getting on track upon arriving. Jet lag and a full season of hockey will do that.

“I wanted to come to try and help the team,” he said of his accepting the invitation. “It is not easy to play on big ice. Still, finding myself on the ice. Being around the boys I feel like part of the team and just want to play hockey.”

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In referring the “big ice,” Tatar shares the same sentiment as many have before who regularly play hockey in North America where the rinks are smaller and because of it the style of play and way you play are different. Certainly that is the case for those players who, like Tatar, come to the World Championship after competing in the NHL playoffs.

“It is really hard to compare the two and I’m not sure if you can,” Tatar said of the difference. “The World Championship is another kind of hockey and requires another kind of preparation as well as a different physicality than the NHL playoffs. Come to think of it, I don’t think you can compare the two.”

Currently, Slovakia has 7 points and Belarus 10 points in Group B. Both teams have two games to play. Slovakia faces Russia and the United States, two of the top teams in the group. Belarus faces hot Finland and Norway.

Tatar’s message now: Just win.

“I didn’t come here to score,” said Tatar. “I came here to help this team in any way I can. What’s important is who wins the game.”

Slovakia has been fortunate to have a loyal fan base that has faithfully packed CEZ Arena for each game. With that level of support, Slovakia has at least won the crowd here in Ostrava.

“This is how Slovak fans are,” Tatar said of the support. “European fans are louder. It has always been this way in Europe. It is kind of nice to see home fans from where I’m from.”


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