When Slovenia went to a qualifying tournament in Denmark this past February with Belarus, Denmark and the Ukraine, there were no expectations that it would emerge as the team that would earn the last berth in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Yet that's just what happened. Not only did the underdog Slovenians win all three games, they did it in dominating fashion, by a 12-4 margin.
The Slovenians should be quite a bit stronger in the Olympics than they were in February because they will have Los Angeles Kings star Anze Kopitar in the lineup. Kopitar was genuinely shocked that his Slovenian teammates played well enough to qualify, and he pledged to join them in the Olympics.
Kopitar's brother Gasper plays on the team, and their father, Matjaz, coaches the Slovenians.
The team should be loose and able to skate free and easy throughout the tournament because the Slovenians will not have to battle any expectations or pressure against their highly touted opponents.