Czech Republic (0-0) Vs. Sweden (0-0)
Olympic Hockey: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Sochi, Russia)
The Line: Sweden -200 / Czech Republic +165 --- Over/Under: 4.5 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Czech Republic take the ice with Gold Medal hopeful Sweden in a first round hockey match up at Sochi.
The last time the Czech Republic won Olympic Gold was 1998 which seems like ages ago. The Czech's roster is littered with NHL talent but not the high quality many experts believe is needed to medal. Martin Hanzel, Jaromir Jagr, David Kreji, Michael Frolik and Tomas Plekanec (to name a few) give the team scoring punch although there is some controversy in that area with Jiri Hudler and Radim Vrbata left off the team yet 42 year old Petr Nedved made the roster. If scoring goals is the strength then the goaltending and defense need to hold their own which is a question mark. Ondrej Pavelec will be under the microscope between the pipes as he has done well since the coaching change in Winnipeg but before that he was not as stout.
There are a few teams that have been kicked around as possible Gold medal winners and Sweden is one of them. The Swedes have an abundance of talent through out the lineup with Niklas Backstrom, Alexander Steen, Daniel Alfredsson, Gabriel Landeskog giving the offense plenty of scoring potential. If the offense is in good hands then the defense is in just as good shape with the likes of Alexander Edler, Niklas Kronwall, Erik Karlsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson representing just a few of the blue liners that should limit the amount of rubber Henrik Lundqvist sees. Even if Lundqvist has to make some tough saves he is one of the best and has a Gold medal in his back pocket from 2006.
I see a fairly even match up with loads of talent on both sides with the obvious edge to Sweden. Both are capable of winning but I believe Sweden has the more rounded squad and possibly the best goalie in the sport...