Things certainly did not get off to a good start for the Czech Republic today as they were essentially dominated by Team Sweden on opening day of the Men’s Hockey competition at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Sweden struck first and struck hard with a goal from Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. Three minutes later Sweden would strike again with a goal from St. Louis Blues Patrik Berglund. The period would end with a string of three penalties, but no goals.
Sweden struck hard again in the second period. Just 51 seconds into the period, Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg nailed one past Czech Republic goaltender Jakub Kovar, putting the Swedes up 3-0.
This goal would be the last straw for Kovar in his contest. With that, the Czech Republic would pull Kovar, and in his place would be goaltender Alexander Salak.
Unfortunately, things would not get much better for the Czech Republic.
Just 4 minutes later, Karlsson would lay down his second goal of the night, giving Team Sweden a 4-0 lead. The assists on Karlsson’s second goal went to Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin and Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom.
It would seem that the Karlsson goal was the spark that ignited the fire within the Czech team. A little over 4 minutes after the Karlsson goal, the Czech team would get on the board for the first time in the encounter with a goal from New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky. The lone assist on the goal was credited to from his Devils teammate Patrik Elias.
Under two minutes later, the Czechs would strike again with a goal from yet another New Jersey Devil, Jaromir Jagr. The assists on Jagr’s goal went to Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec and Tomas Kaberle.
Both sides would exchange penalties for the next period and a half, but unfortunately for the Czech Republic, the scoring would be finished for the night.
To say that the Swedes were dominant in this game is a bit of an understatement. While the Czech team did make a bit of a resurgence in the second period, it was not enough to get over on New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist made 27 saves on 29 shots giving him a Save Percentage of .931.
Now don’t get me wrong, Alexander Salak had a fairly decent night himself. Salak made 14 stops on 15 shots on goal giving him a save percentage of .933.
Next up for the Swedes, they will face off with Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller and Team Switzerland. While Lundqvist is most definitely a solid goaltender, Hiller has been putting on quite a show in the NHL this season. Hiller has 4 shutouts under his belt so far this season with the Ducks. Is it possible that Hiller will be able to hold down the fort against Lundqvist? I guess we’ll just have to watch and find out.
Next up for the Czech Republic is Latvia. Latvia is the team that was upset by Switzerland in the final seconds of the third period in their Olympic opener. I guarantee you that they will be looking to shake it off and get back on track as they come up against the Czech Republic.
Where do you think the strategy broke down for the Czech Republic? What do you think they are going to need to do to get back on track? Furthermore, will Lundqvist be able to hold strong throughout the rest of the tournament? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think.