2010 Olympic Hockey Outlook: Team Czech Republic

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2010 Olympic Hockey Outlook: Team Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is the fifth of an eight-part series previewing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Other team previews can be found here: Russia | Canada | USA | Sweden | Slovakia | Finland | Mexico (Satire)

The Czechs have long had a respectable hockey program. Since the Olympics allowed professional players to compete, the Czechs are tied for the most medals earned. Since their gold medal victory in 1998 at Nagano, the nation has fallen off a little.

The days of Dominik Hasek dominating between the pipes for the Czechs is over, and their playmakers from the gold medal team are severely aged.

As long as there is a will, the Czechs will always remain competitive. They aren't considered a front runner for the gold in 2010, but they are always a threat to medal.

 

Forwards

First Line

C Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche

LW Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils

RW Jaromir Jagr, Avangard Omsk HC

 

Second Line

C David Krejci, Boston Bruins

LW Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers

RW Martin Havlat, Chicago Blackhawks

 

Third Line

C Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens

LW Milan Michalek, San Jose Sharks

RW Jiri Hudler, Detroit Red Wings

 

Fourth Line

C Michael Frolik, Florida Panthers

LW Jakob Voracek, Columbus Blue Jackets

RW Martin Erat, Nashville Predators

 

Analysis

Two wild cards in this picture are veterans Robert Lang and Vaclav Prospal. Neither are sure about returning to the national team. But without them, this is not a poor unit. Lead by Jaromir Jagr, a guy who has consistently proved that he is one of the best in the game even at 36. He will be on a line with fellow veterans Patrik Elias and Milan Hejduk.

The second line may be a preview of coming attractions for the Czechs. Young star David Krejci leads a line of terrific wingers Havlat and Hemsky. Both are underrated players on the international stage and need to come up big in order to win. 

Line three is composed of some playmakers in Michalek and Hudler. Tomas Plekanec is also an above-average center.

The Czechs are looking to their young talent to fill the fourth line. Jakob Voracek and Michael Frolik have had great seasons with their NHL clubs and look to continue their success on the Olympic stage.

 

Backup Options

Robert Lang, Montreal Canadiens; Vaclav Prospal, Tampa Bay Lightning; Martin Hanzal, Phoenix Coyotes

 

Defensemen

First Pairing

LD Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs

RD Pavel Kubina, Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Second Pairing

LD Jaroslav Spacek, Buffalo Sabres

RD Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild

 

Third Pairing

LD Michal Rozsival, New York Rangers

RD Roman Hamrlik, Montreal Canadiens

 

Analysis

They aren't big name defensemen, but they are effective. Lead by a duo of Maple Leafs, the Czech blue line boasts a number of guys that can score.

None more so than the second line, who may be the most productive defensive line in the Olympics. Marek Zidlicky and Jaroslav Spacek will look to jump in and create offense at any moment possible. They will also need to take shots whenever possible.

The third line is similar. Roman Hamrlik will put up numbers, but Rozsival as a veteran will be more comfortable on the defensive end.

 

Backup Options

Rostislav Klesla, Columbus Blue Jackets; Filip Kuba, Ottawa Senators; Zbynek Michalek, Phoenix Coyotes

 

Goaltenders

Starter

G Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers

 

Backup

G Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta Thrashers

 

Analysis

The under-appreciated Vokoun deserves to be the starter. He has had a solid 2009 campaign so far, and will most likely continue into 2010. Pavelec has a chance to overtake him by the Vancouver games, but he will have to play fantastic hockey and earn a full-time role in Atlanta.

 

Backup Option

Marek Schwartz, St. Louis Blues

 

Coaching

Head Coach

Vladimir Ruzicka

 

Final Outcome

No medal. Defeated by Sweden in the bronze medal game, 4-0.

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