USA vs. Czech Republic: Full Preview for Olympics Hockey 2014 Quarterfinal

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USA vs. Czech Republic: Full Preview for Olympics Hockey 2014 Quarterfinal
Petr David Josek/Associated Press

The Czech Republic men's ice hockey team defeated Slovakia by a score of 5-3 on Tuesday and will move on to face the United States in the quarterfinals.

A win by the Czech team marked just its second victory in regulation during the 2014 Olympics. The only other time they were able to emerge victorious within the first three periods of action was against winless Latvia in the preliminary rounds.

The Czech Republic finished the preliminary round with a record of 1-2, scoring six goals and allowing seven goals in its three games played. Needless to say, the Czechs will have their hands full against a powerful United States team on Wednesday.

Let's take a closer look at the upcoming game's viewing information and outlook as well as give a prediction for the matchup's outcome.

 

Viewing Information

What: Men's ice hockey quarterfinals: United States vs. Czech Republic

Where: Shayba Arena

When: Wednesday, Feb. 19

TV Time: noon ET

Channel: USA

Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com

 

Outlook

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

The strength of the Czech team remains with its goaltending. Both Ondrej Pavelec and Alexander Salak have been solid, earning save percentages of .923 and .933, respectively. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the offense.

Through four games, the Czechs have only managed 11 goals on 123 shots. To put that into perspective, through three games, the United States has scored 15 goals on 95 shots. It's not as though the Czechs aren't generating offense, but they look to be having a difficult time finding the back of the net.

On Tuesday, they did improve their scoring percentage, as they scored five goals on 29 shots. However, that was against a Slovakia team that had less-than-stellar goaltending. Allowing 15 goals on 114 shots, Slovakia's goaltenders struggled throughout most of the tournament.

If the Czechs are to compete with the United States, they must ride the hot hand of Roman Cervenka, who scored twice in the first two periods against Slovakia.

On the other hand, the United States has been stellar in all aspects of the game.

Team USA earned a first-round bye after two decisive wins against Slovakia and Slovenia, followed by a dramatic overtime win against long-time rival Russia.

Forward Phil Kessel has been marvelous for the United States. Through three games, he has scored four goals, totaled three assists, managed 15 shots on goal and he has a plus/minus rating of positive-five.

T.J. Oshie will look to continue his hot streak. He was the United States' hero against Russia, netting four goals in six attempts during a dramatic shootout.

During an interview with ESPN.com, Oshie spoke of his thoughts during the shootout, "I was just thinking of something else I could do, trying to keep him guessing. Had to go back to the same move a couple times, but I was glad it ended when it did. I was running out of moves there."

Head coach Dan Bylsma added, "I aged a couple of years in that shootout. We had other guys that are capable, but T.J. was the guy who was going well. It seemed like he was going to score every time he went."

One thing that came out of this dramatic finish: The Americans proved that they can flourish in the face of adversity—a desired trait heading into the playoffs.

On the defensive side, goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller have been fantastic. Though Quick has seen more time on the ice, both players have managed save percentages of .944.

Against a high-octane Russian offense, Quick was phenomenal. He allowed two goals, but managed 29 saves against Alexander Ovechkin and Co. Surely Quick's confidence must be at an all-time high after that showing.

 

Prediction

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

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Looking at these teams side by side, it becomes rather apparent that the United States is deeper all the way around. Ten different players have combined for the team's 15 goals through three games. Team USA doesn't have just one dominant line; they are formidable all the way around.

The Czechs haven't showed enough offensive ability to overtake a team with as much speed and power as the United States. After navigating a rough road to get to where they are now, things won't get any easier for the Czech Republic, as its run will come to an end on Wednesday.

United States 4, Czech Republic 1

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