Czech Republic (0-1-0) vs. Latvia (0-1-0)
|Date & Time||Friday February 14, 2014, 12:00 AM (EST)|
Line: Czech Republic -2.5
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The Czechs and Latvians are both coming off tournament opening losses but get a shot at redemption in Sochi on Friday.
The Czech Republic dropped their tournament opening contest to a Swedish team looking to claim gold and while they chipped in two goals to make the final respectable they weren’t ever really a threat to take the first game. For some reason they didn’t dress their only NHL goaltender in Onredj Pavelec and the Swedes took full advantage by racing out to a quick 4-0 lead – one they wouldn’t relinquish in what was a 4-2 final in favour of the blue and yellow. The Czechs do have more than a handful of NHL roster players but to be honest I don’t see them being able to do much damage in this tournament as I don’t think they have enough talent to compete with the big dogs. They do however head into this contest as three goal favourites against a Latvian team who shocked the world and held the Swiss in check that ended in heartbreak as Switzerland netted the game winner with eight seconds remaining in the contest but they played incredibly well.
Latvia had little to no expectation coming into the tournament with their only NHL representative coming in the form of head coach Ted Nolan but they held strong against a Swiss team that many have predicted to be this year’s dark horse team. Latvia held the Swiss scoreless for the first 59+ minutes and if not for an unfortunate bounce that went off a defender and into the net they could have very well earned the upset. The Latvians must shake off their disappointment if they want to pull off the victory here against the Czechs who will be itching for a big effort after a disappointing contest against Sweden and while the Czechs have more firepower the Latvians seem to be a more complete team. However, the two opponents were night and day for the Czechs and Latvians respectively and while I am not sold on the Czechs deep in the tournament I do think they show some life here and their veteran laden squad gets them on the board here.