Thursday, February 16, 2006

Olympic Hockey: Czech Mate?

Continuing the trend of the past couple of days, it's worth commenting on the tough day for the Czech Republic in the Men's Hockey Competition:

1. Dominik Hasek is listed as day-to-day with a leg injury. I don't know what the 'adductor' muscle is, but I miss the days when coaches would simply call it either a "lower body" or "upper body" injury. Simpler times.

2. In Hasek's absence, the Czechs were upset by Switzerland this morning, losing a close 3-2 game. The Swiss were led by Colorado Avalanche Goaltender David Aebischer, who stopped 40 shots for the win.

The Czechs can't afford to have Hasek miss too many days if today's performance from Tomas Vokoun is a sign of things to come. They play a tough Finnish squad Saturday, then have a gimme against the Italians on Sunday before their final round robin game on Tuesday against Canada. Though I remain skeptical of the Fins' chances at success, they're always a pesky opponent. And the way that Czech struggled to get by Germany, and couldn't hold off the Swiss doesn't lead me to believe that we should be expecting them to roll over Finland - who ices a superior squad compared to the Czech's first two opponents.

The Czechs aren't in too much danger, as thanks to the Fins' blowout win over the Swiss, they have a comfortable edge in goal differential. But a loss to either Finland or Canada will ensure that they have a tough road to go through in the medal round - with or without the Dominator.

A couple of other notes:

• Roberto Luongo is in net for Canada today, who are on their way to a comfortable win over the Germans. Interesting to note, since many (including myself) were expecting Marty Turco to be the number two goalie.

• It looks like we can't write off the Russians yet, after a dominating 5-0 win over Sweden. Conversely, the Slovaks won comfortably over Latvia, who looks like they'll be a feisty opponent. The recap of their game against the United States brought up a critical point, that the Latvians have been largely together as a team for the past few weeks. That's an important factor when matching up against patched together all-star teams. It's a cliche, but hockey is still a team game, no matter how much talent is on the ice.


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