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Day Three of Dub-J’s: A noble ‘tender

December 29, 2011

Inside the Czech locker room ahead of Wednesday night’s game (via iDNES).

Petr Mrazek could only do so much. One man, can only do so much. Last night, the Czech Republic was silenced by a 5-0 shutout at the hands of Team Canada. The result wasn’t surprising, the other-worldly play of Mrazek–also perhaps not surprising. Just how poorly the final score reflected the actual course of play–highly surprising.

The Czechs struggled mightily on their multiple power-plays and 5-on-3’s. A couple of goals on these opportunities would have shifted the game completely. That said, if you can’t convert, you can’t convert. Unlike the NHL, in the WJC, there isn’t much time to perfect imbalances or fix problems. You have to take each chance at face-value and not globalize these problems too much. Which comes to my next point: the goals allowed by the Czech Republic were flukey, bouncy and downright impossible for Mrazek or a comparable goaltender to stop. On at least two of the goals, there should have been a Czech d-man right by Mrazek’s side in the paint to stop the puck. And yet, there wasn’t. Nobody was there to help him. Ugly as it is, playing a strong defense-first game in the matches to come might be necessary for the Czech Republic. Hermetically-sealing your own end is sometimes the only way to go.  It’s not pretty, and it has some risk involved. The Czechs used the body extensively last night, and one hopes that will continue. Next up: the US, defeated in an upset with Finland yesterday.

The Slovaks meanwhile couldn’t escape the clutches of the Russians, who were slow and frustrated, but still had the offensive talent to win it cleanly.

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