Time to look at one of my personal favourites going into Sochi 2014, Team Czech Republic. The Czechs have been on the podium in the past 3 World Championships and are not going to go down without a fight. In Vancouver they finished a distant 7th but don’t count them out as the IIHF has them ranked 3rd in the world. That’s saying something.
They have a depth of talent on the forward front. Lead by veterans Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias, look for David Krejci, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Plekanec and Jakub Voracek to all earn their keep.
On the defensive side, Marek Zidlicky and possibly Tomas Kaberle could be your first lining pair. Along with Filip Kuba and Roman Hamrlik, these are two strong defensive pairings. Almost wall like. As long as Kuba doesn’t play like he did in Ottawa.
Goaltending has a wealth of depth as well. Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec will definitely start followed by Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. All 3 have had plenty of experience under pressure situations and well be sure to be rock solid.
One thing’s for sure, don’t count out the Czechs.