Welcome |Account|Sign Out 
NEW! SIGN IN WITH YOUR SOCIAL PROFILE
OR
Username or EmailPassword
Latvia
Czech Republic
OT
SOG
SOG
1st2nd3rdOTT
LAT
CZE
game preview

Latvia poses tough challenge for Czechs

Tuesday, 02.23.2010 / 7:00 PM

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

LATVIA (0-0-0-3, 0 points) vs. CZECH REPUBLIC (2-0-0-1, 6 points)

What to watch -- This is no classic No. 5 vs. No. 12 showdown. The Latvians have been outscored 19-4 in the preliminary round, but they played the Czechs tougher than either of their other two opponents. These teams met five days ago and the Czechs walked away with a 5-2 win. As a result, the Czechs not only garnered a valuable three points for seeding purposes, but also an appreciation for how dangerous this Latvian team can be, despite the fact it finished last among the 12-team field.

"Tomorrow we need to not take the other team lightly, they are good players," Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "We need to be prepared to play our best game." With that being said, if the Czechs show up and bring the same type of game with which they opened the tournament with a win against Slovakia, this should be nothing more than a tune-up for Wednesday's quarterfinal with Finland.

Last game: Latvia lost to Slovakia, 6-0; Czech Republic was defeated by Russia, 4-2.

Team Reports:

Latvia -- The Latvians know that the odds are long for them to earn their first victory of the tournament against the Czechs on Tuesday, but that won't stop them from trying.

"It's simple for us," goalie Edgars Masalskis said Monday. "We have to survive the first minute of the game and we have to survive the first period. There's no other math than that."

In order to survive, the Latvians will have to tighten up their defense, especially the penalty kill. Latvia has allowed 19 goals in three games and does not have the consistent firepower to erase a big lead.

"We have to play closer, and don't give them any space like we did in the first period," Philadelphia defenseman Oskars Bartulis said.

And, who knows? If the Latvians can keep this close into the final 20 minutes, maybe, just maybe, the Czechs begin to feel the pressure.

"Every team wants to win," Bartulis said. "The first three games we lost, but now we can change everything. That is what's interesting about this tournament."

Czech Republic -- For the Czech Republic, this game is all about execution and working on the flaws that were exposed in Sunday's Group B loss to Russia that cost the Czechs a chance at the automatic bye into the quarterfinals granted to the group champion.

"Tomorrow we need to not take the other team lightly, they are good players," said Tomas Vokoun, the Czech goalie. "We need to be prepared to play our best game."

There are three things the Czechs would like to work on in this game: generating a more efficient power play, playing a more controlled game in its own zone and showing some better finishing skill around the opposition's net.

"This playoff game is different from any other game and we changed the lines a little bit," Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicka said. "There are some changes in the offense. We've changed several players on the right side."

Total NHL players in game: Latvia: 2. Czech Republic: 16.

Puck Drop -- Nothing is a given and the Czech know that they can't get caught looking ahead to a matchup against the Finns in Wednesday's quarterfinal. To do so could have disastrous results.

"This is a team (Latvia) that has nothing to lose," Ruzicka said. "They will work hard and they are brave."

With that said, the Czechs would have to complete a colossal meltdown to fall to the bottom-seeded team and hope not to fall into too many bad habits if the game turns into the blowout that many believe it will become.

NHL.com predicts: Latvia has neither the defensive depth, nor the goaltending quality to have a true hope of springing the upset. They have been outscored by an average of more than five goals in its three preliminary games and the Czechs will become the latest team to get healthy at the expense of Latvia. A 6-1 scoreline should restore the Czech confidence in time for the quarterfinals.
 
Latvia
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
21 A. Berzins 6'3" 214 12/27/1983 Riga, LAT
47 M. Cipulis 5'11" 187 11/29/1980 Cesis, LAT
10 L. Darzins 6'3" 201 1/28/1985 Riga, LAT
16 K. Daugavins 6'1" 205 5/18/1988 Riga, LAT
28 Z. Girgensons BUF 6'1" 190 1/5/1994 Riga, LAT
70 M. Indrasis 6'3" 187 9/30/1990 Riga, LAT
51 K. Jass 6'0" 192 5/4/1990 Riga, LAT
15 M. Karsums 5'10" 194 2/26/1986 Riga, LAT
91 R. Kenins 6'0" 201 2/28/1991 Riga, LAT
79 V. Pavlovs 6'5" 216 6/17/1989 Riga, LAT
24 M. Redlihs 5'11" 179 7/1/1984 Riga, LAT
5 J. Sprukts 6'3" 225 1/31/1982 Riga, LAT
3 J. Stals 6'3" 207 4/8/1982 Riga, LAT
12 H. Vasiljevs 5'11" 185 5/23/1976 Riga, LAT
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
37 O. Bartulis 6'3" 203 1/21/1987 Ogre, LAT
29 R. Freibergs 5'11" 192 5/17/1991 Riga, LAT
32 A. Kulda 6'2" 216 7/25/1988 Leipzig, GER
8 S. Ozolinsh 6'3" 214 8/3/1972 Sigulda, LAT
81 G. Pujacs 6'0" 216 6/11/1981 Riga, LAT
9 K. Redlihs 6'2" 205 1/15/1981 Riga, LAT
6 A. Rekis 5'11" 198 1/1/1979 Jurmala, LAT
11 K. Sotnieks 6'0" 192 1/29/1987 Riga, LAT
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
50 K. Gudlevskis 6'4" 190 7/31/1992 Aizkraukle, LAT
31 E. Masalskis 5'10" 187 3/31/1980 Riga, LAT
1 E. Mustukovs 6'0" 187 4/7/1984 Riga, LAT
Czech Republic
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
10 R. Cervenka 5'11" 201 12/10/1985 Praha, CZE
26 P. Elias NJD 6'1" 195 4/13/1976 Trebic, CZE
91 M. Erat WSH 6'0" 196 8/29/1981 Trebic, CZE
67 M. Frolik WPG 6'1" 198 2/17/1988 Kladno, CZE
11 M. Hanzal PHX 6'6" 230 2/20/1987 Pisek, CZE
83 A. Hemsky EDM 6'0" 185 8/13/1983 Pardubice, CZE
68 J. Jagr NJD 6'3" 230 2/15/1972 Kladno, CZE
46 D. Krejci BOS 6'0" 188 4/28/1986 Sternberk, CZE
9 M. Michalek OTT 6'2" 216 12/7/1984 Jindrichuv Hradec, CZE
93 P. Nedved 6'3" 196 12/9/1971 Liberec, CZE
12 J. Novotny 6'3" 204 8/12/1983 Pelhrimov, CZE
18 O. Palat TBL 5'11" 174 3/28/1991 Frydek Mistek, CZE
14 T. Plekanec MTL 5'11" 196 10/31/1982 Kladno, CZE
89 J. Voracek PHI 6'2" 214 8/15/1989 Kladno, CZE
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
8 M. Barinka 6'3" 225 6/12/1984 Vyskov, CZE
3 R. Gudas TBL 6'0" 204 6/5/1990 Prague, CZE
7 T. Kaberle 6'1" 212 3/2/1978 Rakovnik, CZE
25 L. Krajicek 6'3" 205 3/11/1983 Prostejov, CZE
23 Z. Michalek PHX 6'2" 210 12/23/1982 Jindrichuv Hradec, CZE
32 M. Rozsival CHI 6'1" 212 9/3/1978 Vlasim, CZE
5 L. Smid CGY 6'3" 209 2/1/1986 Frydlant, CZE
2 M. Zidlicky NJD 5'11" 190 2/3/1977 Most, CZE
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
1 J. Kovar 6'0" 201 7/19/1988 Pisek, CZE
31 O. Pavelec WPG 6'3" 220 8/31/1987 Kladno, CZE
53 A. Salak 6'1" 190 1/5/1987 Strakonice, CZE