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Czech Republic
Sweden

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25 SOG
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SWE
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Sweden, Czech Republic open up Group C play

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:52 AM

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Sweden, Czech Republic open up Group C play
Czech Republic vs. Sweden

CZECH REPUBLIC vs. SWEDEN

When: Wednesday, 12 p.m. ET (USA)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: The Czech Republic and Sweden begin play in the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with different expectations. The Czechs are a veteran group with two players (Petr Nedved and Jaromir Jagr) over the age of 40 and four (Marek Zidlicky, Michal Rozsival, Tomas Kaberle and Patrik Elias) 35 and up, and are motivated to avenge early exits from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the World Championship last year.

"Really, it's going to be very close," Elias told The Associated Press. "You can't predict you're going to beat any one team, so you go into the tournament thinking you can beat anyone."

Sweden returns loaded for a deep run after losing to Slovakia in the quarterfinals four years ago that left it without a medal for the third time in four Olympics. However, the last time the games were played on international ice (Turin, 2006) the Swedes won a gold medal. Expectations are ripe in '14, but key players Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen are missing due to injury.

Czech Republic: Experience is aplenty for the Czechs, especially on a blue line anchored by Zidlicky, Zbyenk Michalek and Rozsival. Despite their advanced ages, Jagr leads the New Jersey Devils in scoring (17 goals, 32 assists, 49 points) and Nedved has 43 points in 44 games with the Liberec White Tigers in the Czech league (18 goals, 25 assists), and will be keys for a team that won bronze in 2006 on the larger ice.

Like most teams in the tournament, the Czechs will go as far as their goaltending allows. Likely starter Ondrej Pavelec has been inconsistent for the Winnipeg Jets, but won a gold for the Czechs at the 2010 World Championship and bronze the following year.

Sweden: A chic choice to win gold, Sweden is led by Henrik Lundqvist, who with another gold medal will stake his claim as the best goalie in the world. Four years ago, Lundqvist had a 1.34 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in three games. This season with the New York Rangers, he shook off early-season struggles to post five straight wins, seven of eight and 10 of 12 entering the Olympic break.

"You've been thinking about it for months, but now you can really start to mentally prepare for what is ahead," Lundqvist told BlueshirtsUnited.com prior to arriving in Sochi. "It's going to be a great challenge and a great experience. I really look forward to going over there and competing."

The Swedes are loaded on defense (Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alexander Edler and Jonathan Ericsson), but despite their share of firepower (Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Daniel Sedin, Nicklas Backstrom, Gabriel Landeskog and Alexander Steen), time will tell if the absences of Henrik Sedin and Franzen will ultimately derail the Swedes' cause.

What's next: Group C play continues Friday for each team. The Czechs play Latavia, a team not expected to do much, but well-coached with Buffalo Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan behind the bench and promising Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Kristers Gudlevskis in goal. Sweden faces Switzerland, which is capable of pulling off a big surprise or two with NHL players Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) in goal, Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) and Mark Streit (Philadelphia Flyers) on defense, and Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild) and Damian Brunner (Devils) up front.

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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
Sweden
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
11 D. Alfredsson DET 5'11" 203 12/11/1972 Gothenburg, SWE
19 N. Bäckström WSH 6'1" 208 11/23/1987 Gävle, SWE
14 P. Berglund STL 6'3" 217 6/2/1988 Västerås, SWE
42 J. Ericsson 6'2" 212 2/22/1980 Skellefteå, SWE
21 L. Eriksson BOS 6'2" 196 7/17/1985 Goteborg, SWE
62 C. Hagelin NYR 5'11" 186 8/23/1988 Sodertalje, SWE
90 M. Johansson WSH 6'1" 205 10/6/1990 Landskrona, SWE
16 M. Krüger CHI 6'0" 181 5/27/1990 Stockholm, SWE
92 G. Landeskog COL 6'1" 204 11/23/1992 Stockholm, SWE
41 G. Nyquist DET 5'11" 185 9/1/1989 Halmstad, SWE
22 D. Sedin VAN 6'1" 187 9/26/1980 Ornskoldsvik, SWE
18 J. Silfverberg ANA 6'1" 200 10/13/1990 Gävle, SWE
20 A. Steen STL 5'11" 212 3/1/1984 Winnipeg, MB
40 H. Zetterberg DET 5'11" 197 10/9/1980 Njurunda, SWE
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
23 A. Edler VAN 6'3" 215 4/21/1986 Ostersund, SWE
3 O. Ekman-Larsson PHX 6'2" 190 7/17/1991 Karlskrona, SWE
52 J. Ericsson DET 6'4" 221 3/2/1984 Karlskrona, SWE
4 N. Hjalmarsson CHI 6'3" 207 6/6/1987 Eksjo, SWE
65 E. Karlsson OTT 6'0" 180 5/31/1990 Landsbro, SWE
55 N. Kronwall DET 6'0" 190 1/12/1981 Stockholm, SWE
27 J. Oduya CHI 6'0" 190 10/1/1981 Stockholm, SWE
7 H. Tallinder BUF 6'4" 209 1/10/1979 Stockholm, SWE
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
1 J. Enroth BUF 5'10" 166 6/25/1988 Stockholm, SWE
50 J. Gustavsson DET 6'3" 192 10/24/1984 Danderyd, SWE
30 H. Lundqvist NYR 6'1" 188 3/2/1982 Are, SWE