NEWS

Czechs try to avoid trap game vs. Latvia

Friday, 02.19.2010 / 3:35 PM ET / News
NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


Czechs try to avoid trap game vs. Latvia

CZECH REPUBLIC (1-0-0-0) vs. LATVIA (0-0-0-1)

NOTE: Records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time).

What to watch -- This could be the ultimate trap game for the Czech Republic, as it is wedged between two traditional rivalry games - Wednesday's opener against Slovakia and Sunday's Group B heavyweight match vs. Russia.

It could, that is, if the Czechs had come out roaring in their opener and were feeling overconfident. But beating Slovakia 3-1 was as much of an escape as a triumph, as the Czechs were outshot badly and outplayed for lengthy stretches.

The Czechs need to win Group B to avoid playing an extra game in the medal round - something that would be no favor to 38-year-old Jaromir Jagr. To do so, they need their game honed in time for meeting the Russians. It didn't look honed vs. the Slovaks.

If nothing else, the party will be on in the stands. The Czech and Latvian fans are among the most joyous here -- and while the mood of the Czech fans depends upon the performance of their team, the Latvian fans are here as much for the party as the games.

Team Reports:

Czech Republic -- Thanks to Jagr, who isn't even on their top line here, the Czechs survived an often discombobulated first-game performance in their 3-1 victory over Slovakia.

While defenseman Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs uncorked several bombs from the left point, the Czechs' power play was largely ineffectual on its first five tries. On its sixth, Jagr nudged a puck into the slot for Tomas Plekanec to poke home just two seconds before the second-period horn.

Moving Jagr onto the No. 1 power-play unit for that sixth try seemed to change the dynamic. Presumably, coach Vladimir Ruzicka will stick with that tactic against Latvia.

Unlike in Torino four years ago, when he unexpectedly was pressed into service when Dominik Hasek went down with an injury, Tomas Vokoun has had a long time to think about being the CzechRepublic's No. 1 goalie for this tournament. He had no trouble handling the responsibility, turning aside 34 of 35 shots Wednesday night.

"Honestly, when I go into every game, I don't want to give up any goals," Vokoun said. "So it doesn't change for me if I'm playing in the NHL for Florida or here. This is a little bit tougher because, if you have a bad game during the NHL season, there are many more coming and if you have a bad game here you could exit out of the tournament."

Latvia -- The Latvians have no medal hopes here. But they do have four chances to be giant-killers. Chance No. 1 didn't last very long - the lethal Russian attack struck early to take command of the Group B opener Tuesday night. Chance No. 2 comes against the Czechs.

At least the Latvians still figure to be focused on the tournament. After stunningly tying the United States in their Olympic opener at Torino four years ago, the Latvians were outscored 26-8 over their next four games - seemingly as hung over by the initial result as their delirious, cowbell-clanging fans.

Dallas Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins, one of only two NHLers on the Latvian roster, said he would tell his teammates not to star-gaze but rather to believe they belong. That's easier said than done for Latvian players who have never attended an NHL game, no less played in one

Total NHL players on the rosters -- Czech Republic 16, Latvia 2 (Skrastins of the Dallas Stars and Oskars Bartulis of Philadelphia)

Puck drop -- "I don't think there really are any favorites because, playing together for just four days, it's hard to tell who are the best players and who are the best teams. On the other hand, it never hurts if you've got skilled, great players." -- Czech Republic forward Martin Havlat

Prediction -- Latvian goaltender Edgars Masalskis faced 45 Russian shots in Tuesday night's game. He could face just as many in this one as the Czechs press to get their game going. Figure on Jagr and Co. exerting their will early and often in a 7-3 victory.

-- John Dellapina

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59