Corey Abbott

Olympic Preview

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Olympic Preview: Pool C

Monday, February 10, 2014


This is the second preview of each pool for the 2014 Olympics. Michael Finewax, Ryan Dadoun and Corey Abbott have done player profiles on every player in the tournament.

 

Click here to see Pool A featuring Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States.

 

Click here to see Pool B, featuring Austria, Canada, Finland and Norway.

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK, @mfinewaxhockey  @RyanDadoun, and @CoreAbbott,


Czech Republic

 

Goalies:

 

Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets - NHL) - The Jets started to turn things around under new head coach Paul Maurice and the play of Pavelec picked up as well.  He won seven of his past 11 outings entering the Olympic break.  Unfortunately, his goals against started to rise as the Olympics drew closer.  The 26-year-old has issues with consistency, but he can get hot and during a brief tournament where it's win or go home, that's all a country needs to become a contender.  Pavelec will be the Czech's number one netminder in Sochi. 

 

Alexander Salak (SKA Saint Petersburg - KHL) - Salak has made two NHL appearances in his career and they both came in relief when he was a member of the Florida Panthers.  He's played well for SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL this campaign, where he's posted a .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals-against average in 31 games to go with 17 wins.  He competed for the backup job of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12, but was beat out by Ray Emery.  Salak could get some starts in the Olympics, but he'll probably play second fiddle to Pavelec. 

 

Jakub Kovar (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg - KHL) - Kovar was originally drafted 109th overall in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.  He hasn't played in the NHL and he spent just one season of his playing career in North America when he played in the OHL with Oshawa and Windsor in 2007-08.  In 44 games this season with Yekaterinburg, he has 19 wins, a .934 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against average. 

 

Defensemen:

 

Marek Zidlicky (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - If the Czech Republic is seeking offense from the back end then Zidlicky will likely be their best bet.  He has registered eight goals and 29 points in 58 games with New Jersey this year.  He has garnered 12 of those points and five of his goals on the power play, where he should be a fixture for the Czech team during the Olympics.  

 

Radko Gudas (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - Gudas has emerged as a solid defenseman on Tampa Bay's roster this season.  The 23-year-old still has some holes to fill in his game, but he plays very physical and he is capable of chipping in a bit offensively.  Gudas leads the Lightning with 201 hits in 53 games and he has recorded 16 points.  He also ranks third in the NHL with 122 penalty minutes.      

 

Zbynek Michalek (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - There was a time this year when Michalek was worried about his Olympic participation because of a hip injury, but he was able to return to Phoenix's lineup last month and he's ready to compete in Sochi.  Michalek won't produce many, if any, points but he can eat up minutes, block shots and take care of his own zone while serving as a shutdown defender. 

 

Ladislav Smid (Calgary Flames - NHL) - Smid suffered a bit of a scare in Calgary's final game before the Olympic break when he sustained a lower-body injury and didn't play in the third period against Philadelphia.  However, he's still expected to play in Sochi.  Smid has become a solid stay-at-home defenseman over the past few years despite playing on struggling teams like Edmonton and Calgary.  

 

Michal Barinka (HC Vitkovice - CZE) - Barinka skated in 34 games over two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, with his most recent appearance coming in 2005-06.  He recorded two assists, 26 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating over that span.  Barinka has spent most of his playing days in the Czech Republic with HC Vitkovice.  In 41 Czech Extraliga contests this year, he has generated 13 points and 36 penalty minutes.  Barinka is known more for being a defensive-minded blueliner and his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame helps in that regard. 

 

Tomas Kaberle (HC Kladno - CZE) - Kaberle was bought out by the Montreal Canadiens this past June, which led to him signing with Kladno to play back home in the Czech Republic.  He has produced three goals and 19 assists in 44 matches this season.  Kaberle should be able to help the Czech's transition game and he might be used on the power play as well. 

 

Michal Rozsival (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Rozsival shares Chicago's sixth defenseman spot with Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Kostka.  He has skated in 33 games this campaign as a result, where he has contributed six points and 53 hits.  The veteran defenseman could be counted on for his leadership  during the tournament, but he could also end up sitting on the bench if he can't keep up on the larger ice.    

 

Lukas Krajicek (HC Dinamo Minsk - KHL) - Krajicek hasn't played in the NHL since the 2009-10 campaign when he split time between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.  The former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2001 possesses good size and he can move the puck, but he isn't having a strong season with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL in 2013-14.  In 49 games, Krajicek has 11 points, 59 penalty minutes and a minus-15 rating. 

 

Forwards:

 

Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - Jagr will be competing in the Winter Olympics for the fifth time in Sochi.  The veteran winger and future Hall of Famer has been excellent this season, while generating a team-leading 17 goals and 49 points in 59 games for the Devils.  He has been moving up the NHL's all-time scorer's list and his puck skills continue to impress even though he is 41 years of age.  Jagr will be looked to for leadership during the tournament and he should feel right at home again on the bigger ice. 

 

David Krejci (Boston Bruins - NHL) - Krejci's superb year has flown under the radar.  If he can avoid the droughts that have plagued him in the past then he's on pace to top 70 points for the second time in his career once the NHL resumes play after the Olympics.  He has scored just 13 goals in 57 games, but he has collected 37 assists to give him 50 points at the break.  Krejci will be a top-two center for the Czech Republic during the Olympics. 

 

Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Plekanec will be the captain of the Czech team at the Winter Games.  The two-way center will probably be matched up against the best the opposition has to offer and he'll be asked to contribute offensively as well.  In 59 games with Montreal this year, he has tallied 17 goals and 33 points. 

 

Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia Flyers - NHL) - Voracek was one of many Philadelphia Flyers who had a brutal start to the 2013-14 season.  However, he managed to bounce back and become a dependable scorer once again as the calendar turned to December.  Voracek entered the break with 15 goals and 40 points in 59 games.  He's likely to skate as a top-six forward with the Czech Republic and his skills on the power play will be put to good use.    

 

Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - Elias might be slowing down a bit offensively, but he still has 33 points in 44 games this season.  The 37-year-old forward can play center or the wing and he can skate on the power play and the penalty kill.  His versatility and his ability to score should make him a reliable player for the Czech Republic during the Olympic Games.  

 

Martin Hanzal (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Hanzal was racking up points, but he's cooled off considerably since then.  He entered the Olympic break with one goal and three assists in his past 11 outings.  Hanzal 's game has a great deal of sandpaper to it and he's sound defensively.  He can also dominate on faceoffs which could make him the catalyst for a checking-line role for the Czech Republic. 

 

Michael Frolik (Winnipeg Jets - NHL) - Frolik served as fourth-liner with Chicago during their Stanley Cup win last year, but he was elevated to the top unit recently with the Jets this season.  During that time, he has earned three goals and three assists in 13 contests to give him 30 points on the year.  He can play any forward position, so he is capable of playing anywhere in the lineup, but we would expect to see him in an energy role with the Czechs in the Olympics.   

 

Petr Nedved (Bili Tygri Liberec - CZE) - Nedved has played in his hometown of Liberec for the past six seasons, including the 2013-14 campaign.  He has registered 18 goals, 44 points and 101 penalty minutes in 44 Czech Extraliga games this year.  Nedved ranks fifth in the league in scoring heading into the Olympics.  The 42-year-old forward hasn't appeared in the NHL since the 2006-07 season when he played with Philadelphia and Edmonton.  It will definitely be interesting to see him matched up with and against other NHLers during the Olympics.    This is Nedved's second Olympics as he represented Canada in 1994, winning a silver medal.

 

Ondrej Palat (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - The Lightning rookie has played well since becoming a top-six forward.  He has shown that he can skate with top players, which could make him an interesting player to watch during the Olympics if the Czech coaches grant him a similar opportunity.  Palat ranks third among NHL first-year players with 34 points in 58 games this campaign. 

 

Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators - NHL) - In the past, injuries have sidetracked Michalek, but this year he appears to be healthy and he's struggled mightily to produce.  He has dressed in all 59 games  for the Senators and he's generated a mere 10 goals and 25 points.  Michalek also owns a horrid minus-22 rating.  He played well in the Czech Republic during the lockout last year, so perhaps getting back on the big ice will help him rediscover his past touch.   

 

Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers - NHL) - Hemsky returned from an ankle injury in Edmonton's last game before the Olympic break.  He has generated just seven goals and 24 points in 52 games this season, so it's unlikely that he'll have much an impact in Sochi. 

 

Roman Cervenka (SKA Saint Petersburg - KHL) - Cervenka decided to return to the KHL after an unsuccessful year with the Calgary Flames during the lockout-shortened season.  He has notched 13 goals and 36 points in 49 games with SKA Saint Petersburg after he produced only 17 points with the Flames over 39 appearances.  He can play center or the wing, so the Czechs will have some options when they set their lineup. 

 

Martin Erat (Washington Capitals - NHL) - The 2013-14 campaign has been disastrous for Erat.  He has played on the fourth line, been scratched and asked to be traded.  His ice time went up heading into the break and he finally scored his first goal of the season in his 51st game, so things could be looking up for him if you are inclined to look on the bright side.  Still, it will take much more than that to save his season especially considering the goal was an empty netter.   Erat punched his ticket to Sochi because of an injury to St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka.       

 

Jiri Novotny (HC Lev Praha - KHL) - Novotny has played in the KHL for the last five years and the 2013-14 campaign marks his second straight season with Lev Praha.  He has tallied 10 goals and 14 assists in 45 contests thus far.  Novotny was a first-round selection (22nd overall) of the Buffalo Sabres back in 2001 and he played 189 career NHL contests before heading overseas. 


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Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
Email :Corey Abbott



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