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Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Czech Republic

Image Courtesy: NHL.com

Image Courtesy: NHL.com

In our continuing look at the top contenders participating in February’s Olympic hockey tournament, today we take a look at team Czech Republic.

Recent History

The Czechs finished 7th in Vancouver and were eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals. The last gold medal for the Czech Republic was in 1998 in Nagano.

Round Robin Opponents

The Czech Republic will be competing in group C along with Sweden, Switzerland, and Latvia.

Roster Prediction

Forwards

http://www.goironpigs.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/2010og-cze-svk.jpg

The Sochi games will likely be the last for many longtime Czech stars. Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, and Ales Hemsky are likely all donning a Czech sweater for the last time. Though balanced, the Czech forward group lacks the top end skill of teams like Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. Players like Elias and Jagr can’t be counted on to produce as they once could, and none of the new age of Czech regulars (David Krejci, Jakub Voracek, Radim Vrbata) possess elite offensive skill.

Patrik Elias – David Krejci – Radim Vrbata

Ales Hemsky – Tomas Plekanec – Jakub Voracek

Jiri Hudler - Martin Hanzal - Jaromir Jagr

Tomas Fleischmann - Vladimir Sobotka - Martin Erat

Milan Michalek

Tomas Hertl

Defence

http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Ice+Hockey+Day+8+H1c25Tp1P0el.jpg

Defence is a definite area of concern for the Czech team. While they will ice a group of well established NHLers, there is no “star” defenseman, nor are they very deep. Led by 36 year old Marek Zidlicky, the Czech’s will likely employ a strict defensive strategy so as to not put too much pressure on a D core that will be asking a lot from players like Ladislav Smid and Jakub Kindl.

Marek Zidlicky – Ladislav Smid

Jakub Kindl – Zybnek Michalek

Jan Hejda – Rostislav Klesla

Radko Gudas

Roman Polak

Goaltending

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/article11878105.ece/ALTERNATES/w620/PICTURE,GALLERY:+jqb102_HKO_WORLD_CANADA_CZECH_REPUBLIC_20130512.JPG

Winnipeg Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec is the likely starter for the Czechs, but he hasn’t been very consistent and will be competing with Caps backup Michal Neuvirth and KHL star Jakub Stepanek. Tomas Vokoun probably would be named to the team, but he’s injured.

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Neuvirth

Jakub Stepanek

Most likely to get snubbed

Because of my admitted lack of knowledge of hockey across the pond, my most likely to be snubbed will be players playing overseas. The only non-NHL player on my Team Czech Republic is Jakub Stepanek. Long time national team member Petr Cajanek looks to be a notable omission, but at 38 years old, and with the Czechs icing better, younger players in the NHL, I have him being left at home.  Another notable omission is often injured Sharks forward Martin Havlat. Havlat would surely be on the team if he could remain healthy, but constant injuries have made it difficult for him to find his game, and will ultimately keep him from a trip to Sochi.

Outlook

Team Czech Republic’s path to the Quarterfinals will likely see them needing to play a Qualification game. They will battle with up and coming Switzerland for second place in group C. Ultimately, the Czechs’ thin defence and instability in net should see them eliminated in the Quarterfinals for a second straight Olympics.

Other Roster Previews:

November 11: Russia

November 12: USA

November 13: Sweden

November 14: Czech Republic

November 18: Slovakia

November 19: Switzerland

November 20: Finland

November 21: Canada

November 26: Latvia

November 28: Austria

December 2: Norway

December 3: Slovenia

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3 Response to Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Czech Republic

  1. Czech Republic Hockey Ups the Ante | Thrive Sports on December 3, 2013

    […] Read more at robthehockeyguy.com […]

    Reply
  2. maurice katz on December 21, 2013

    Very good analysis.I think elias and jagr and plekanac will come up bigas czechsplay for. a medal

    Reply
  3. Jiri Rypar on February 19, 2014

    We had no bad team,bud US had better,better,better…..WE have played boring NHL hockey with boring "stars" meanwhile US boys played "old" good european combination game like ONE TEAM…..One more time,very good game.Congratulations…Final Game: USA vs.Swerige

    Jiri Rypar,Czech Republik

    Reply

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