Elias checks in from Vancouver

Czech captain preparing to open tourney vs. Slovakia on Wednesday

Tuesday, 02.16.2010 / 4:22 PM ET / Features
By Eric Marin
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Elias checks in from Vancouver
Elias ready for his third Olympic tournament. The Czech Republic took bronze at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.
As hectic as it's been, Patrik Elias has enjoyed every minute of the Olympic experience in Vancouver so far. Newjerseydevils.com caught up with the Czech Republic captain by phone the day before his squad was set to open the tournament against Slovakia.

How was your arrival?
Elias: Everything went fine. It was an early flight, but it was nice and smooth. We got in and was pretty busy at the airport right away. There were a lot of reporters there and I kind of realized what a big deal it is and how exciting it is. Then we drove to the Village and the Village is beautiful. The set up is great and seeing all the guys, not just from Czech Republic, but also from the other countries, you get an excitement in you right away.

Were you on the same flight as any other Devils?
Elias: Yes, I was smart because I got Marty’s (Brodeur) ticket. I knew that Marty had his own arrangements, so I jumped on his tickets so I was in first class. (Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise were on the same flight... in coach.)

Who is your roommate at the Olympic Village?
Elias: Marty Havlat… we have actually two rooms that are kind of combined, so it’s (Minnesota forward) Marty Havlat, (Florida goaltender) Tomas Vokoun and (St. Louis defenseman) Roman Polak.

What's the atmosphere like in Vancouver?
Elias: Amazing. Just so many events. The first day we saw (Czech speedskater) Martina Sablikova, who is top in the world in the 3000-meter and 5000-meter. We went to see the 3000m race and she won the gold medal, so that was exciting. That was thrilling, actually. We were there for a couple of hours. That was pretty cool.

When was your first practice with the Czech team?
Elias: We did (Monday). We were missing three or four guys, today we'll have a full squad for the first time, then we have the game tomorrow.

How was that first skate?
Elias: It was good. I think because a lot of guys played on Sunday, and with the travel and everything, it was just about getting our legs going a little bit.

What are the keys to your matchup with Slovakia?
Elias: It’s going to be a big game because everybody wants to start the tournament well. Slovakia’s a great team that’s not talked about a lot, but they can be very dangerous. They have a good goaltender in Jaroslav Halak, and we know the offense they have with (Marian) Gaborik and (Marian) Hossa. On defense they have Zdeno Chara and it’s always tough to play against him. They do have some guys, but I believe that, overall, we have the better team. Hopefully we can get it done.

How big is the rivalry between the Czech and Slovakian teams?
Elias: They live in the same building as us in the Olympic Village; they’re right underneath us. We’ve said, ‘Hi’ to each other already because we know each other well. We’re going to do our best tomorrow night, but at the same time, we’re friends. The rivalry is more between, I think, our fans at home and the people in our own countries.

Stumble upon any hot spots in Vancouver?
Elias: We went to a couple of sushi places because that’s great here. It’s quite busy here. The other day we walked about a mile and it took us about 45 minutes because we couldn’t even move. It’s pretty hectic, pretty crazy, but that’s obviously part of the experience.