Olympic Hockey Preview: Czech Republic vs Slovakia

Two longtime rivals and former countrymen face off where one team will be very disappointed that they didn’t make the top 8.  The winner of this game faces the US



Tuesday Feb 18th, 12:00 NOON EST


Here is how the teams match up:

GOALTENDING: After sitting out the first game, Ondrej Pavelec has a .934 SP in the last two games, with a win and a loss.  Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj were dreadful, so look for the Czechs to go back to Jan Laco, who stopped 36 of 37 shots in a 1-0 shootout loss to Russia. Both teams have had all three goalies see game action, which is never a good thing.



DEFENSE:  As expected, Zdeno Chara has been the stalwart on the Slovak defense, but still playing a manageable 23 minutes per game.  Andrej Sekera has actually had more ice time than Chara, by more than a minute per game. Marek Zidlicky leads the Czechs in ice time (over 26 minutes per game) and scoring (2G, 1A) while Zbynek Michalek leads with a +4 rating.



PHOTO CREDIT: USA Today Sports Images

FORWARDS: For two such talented groups of forwards, it is a little surprising that they have combined for only 6 goals between them.  Jaromir Jagr has a pair for the Czechs, while the only two goals for Slovakia in the tournament have come from young Red Wings Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.  They need Marian Hossa to break out.



PREDICTION:  This one is really hard to predict, based on the unstable goaltending.  It could be a low scoring contest, it could be run and gun.  It could be close or it could be a blowout, and either way. I honestly can’t get a gauge on this one at all.

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Tags: Czech Republic Jaromir Jagr Olympic Hockey Ondrej Pavelec Slovakia Zdeno Chara

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