The Americans and Czechs battle it out in the quarterfinals on Wednesday as both teams look for a spot in the semis to play either Canada or Latvia.
The United States emerged from group play as the second overall seed just behind the Swedes and in addition to a first round bye they earned a more favourable quarterfinal matchup against the underwhelming Czech Republic. The US look very solid in the preliminary round as they opened up with a statement victory against the Slovaks, countered with a shootout win over the Russians, and waxed the Slovenians in their last contest as they went undefeated and looked like a gold medal candidate in the process. The Americans are built very well from the crease out and are just one of two teams that are filled entirely of NHL talents with the other being their archrivals from Canada. Jonathan Quick is likely to resume his role as the team’s starter and he has done very well so far putting up a strong effort against both Slovakia and Russia before serving as a spectator for the trouncing of Slovenia. The Americans resume action against a Czech team who hasn’t looked overly strong thus far and are coming off a hard fought win over the Slovaks yesterday.
The Czechs have established themselves as a hockey power on the international stage since NHL players were allowed to compete at the Olympics in 1998 as they claimed the first gold medal and continue to shell out NHL talents year after year. However, the Czechs are far from their glory days and haven’t looked like the world beaters we have come to expect over the last decade and against a tough American team it could very well be the end of the road for the Czechs here today. They do have a number of NHL talents on the roster but to be honest they don’t have any one player that stands out as a difference maker with the exception of the ageless Jaromir Jagr. The Czechs barely held on to get to this point and to be honest they looked very sloppy in the round robin and against an American team that is as talented as this group is I don’t think they stand a chance. Take the US at a very nice price.