Canada looks to stay hot vs. Czech Republic in wide-open men's hockey tourney
Teams will play on Saturday in Pyeongchang, Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET in Canada
Joe Pack, CBC Sports
In a short tournament without clear heavyweights, a hot team can remain so while a cold one doesn't have much time to raise its temperature.
That's why Canadian men's hockey team coach Willie Desjardins says he's looking to follow up an opening win with a three-period effort against the Czech Republic on Saturday in Pyeongchang (Friday at 10:10 p.m. ET in Canada).
The Canadians were able to get by the Swiss without too much trouble thanks to a pair of power-play goals and some good discipline that kept them out of the penalty box.
And considering the men's tournament is anyone's game, a hero could come from anywhere on the Canadian roster.
Rene Bourque and Wojtek Wolski each scored a pair while goaltender Ben Scrivens stopped all but one of the 29 shots directed at him in Canada's 5-1 win in its opener against Switzerland.
You can bet those three stars will be different against Czech Republic. Not because of inconsistent play from the Canadian group but because it will need every member contributing in a men's tournament that has been largely wide open to start.
Slovenia stunned the United States in their opener, Slovakia edged the favoured Olympic Athletes from Russia, and eight out of the 12 teams already have either a regulation or overtime win. Team Canada had the benefit of seeing the U.S. and OAR drop winnable matches prior to its own, and now there should be no underestimating most of the teams in this tournament.
Czechs have as good a shot as any
Canada wasn't the favourite heading into the 1994 Games — the last time NHLers were absent from the Olympics — and yet took the mighty Swedes to a shootout in the gold medal final. The Czechs, meanwhile, surprised everyone in 1998 by winning it all, regardless of stacked NHL-Olympic rosters. Like any team, the Czechs think they have a decent chance of coming out on top of the pile.
Their team is led by captain Martin Erat, a veteran of 881 NHL games and now four Olympic Games. He was a member of the 2006 group that won bronze in Turin, Italy. The roster was turned over somewhat since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, where the team went 1-1-1, but 14 players of the current group play professionally in the KHL.
Czech Republic had to edge South Korea 2-1 to get in the win column in its opener. Michal Repik scored shorthanded for the Czechs late in the first period and they held on from there in a tight match.