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Speed at Forward: Being able to use speed and quickness on an Olympic-sized sheet of ice is one of the greatest assets a team can have.
The Czech Republic will have plenty of forwards in Sochi with a skill set that includes the speed and creativity needed to succeed on a larger ice surface. Players such as Krejci, Voracek, Hemsky, Erat and Michalek will all bring impressive mobility and agility to the ice on each shift.
Experience on the Blue Line: Experience on the back end is a critical component of all gold medal-winning teams, and the Czech Republic will have several battle-tested veterans on the Sochi roster. The most seasoned defensemen include Kaberle, Kindl, Michalek and Zidlicky, who have a combined 174 games of playoff experience.
This experience and understanding of how to handle high-pressure situations will help the Czech Republic against more talented opponents such as the United States, Canada and Russia. The patience and puck-moving skill that these defensemen display will ensure that this Czech team makes quick decisions and doesn't allow the opposing teams' forecheck to wear them down.
Backup Goaltenders: The Czech Republic doesn't have the luxury of a quality backup goaltender capable of providing consistently strong performance on the Olympic stage. Both Pavelec and Neuvirth are inexperienced (nine career NHL playoff games combined) and have not yet proven to be goalies who can be trusted in this type of competition.
Pavelec's GAA has been less than 2.80 in just one of his four full NHL seasons and Neuvirth has been unable to win the Capitals' No. 1 job despite playing in 121 games for the team since 2008. If one of these goalies has to start for the Czech Republic in Sochi, don't expect to see this team on the medal stand.
Lack of an Elite Defenseman: Unlike most of the other gold-medal contenders, the Czech Republic won't have an elite No. 1 defenseman on the Sochi roster. There's plenty of experience on the blue line with Kaberle and Zidlicky, as well as some impressive offensive talent in Michalek, but the lack of a top-tier shutdown defensemen such as Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara or Ryan McDonagh could be a problem for this team.
Smid is a quality stay-at-home blueliner, but he's not an elite-level player with the ability to shut down the ultra-talented forward trios of Canada, Russia and the United States.
Instead of toughness, strong penalty killing and defensive skill, the Czech Republic blue line will need to rely on its experience and mobility for success.