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05-25-2010, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Old Man Jags View Post
Freaky Euro's predictions are pleasingly predictable: The Czech team will lose. Pretty much always the same prediction, the only variation being the manner of our loss (embarrassing, clear, close etc). Thank God the actual players have a somewhat more positive attitude, otherwise they might as well have looked at the roster, decided they are not good enough and just given up in the quarter finals. Or ***** themselves in the final against all those Russian stars and just conceded before the first puck was played.

Czech hockey has structural problems - the bad results of the junior teams in recent years are unfortunately no coincidence. The fact that the team now won these championships cannot mask that in the long run, the likelihood of advancing beyond the quarter finals will likely keep decreasing for the Czech team unless some very radical measures are taken.

However, I had a pretty good feeling before the tournament that this team could do reasonably well. I would certainly not have dared to hope for gold, but they got some fine results in the build-up to the championships and nobody expected anything from them. The Czechs traditionally tend to do well when they are the underdogs, though after the Swiss and Norwegian losses I was getting worried (but still had a good feeling about Canada - after all, the team had beaten the Swedes and had therefore shown that they were capable of beat top teams at these championships (even though the Swedes have been beating the Czechs every time they played them at the WC in recent years)).

Also, if you look at previous championships it is pretty clear that the line between success and failure is often very slim. It's all about that one quarter final game, and often it could have gone the other way. Even in the Olympics (where the Czechs played with less heart than in these championships) if a Czech player had not lost his helmet, the first and deciding Finnish goal would likely not have happened, and then who knows? The lacklustre Czechs might have ended up in the semis, and then anything coul have happened. Or they could have very easily lost against Latvia in the preceding round and returned home with the worst result in Czech an Czechoslovak Olympic history (and a loss to Canada in this tournament would have had the same result for the world championship winning team). Considering this history I am always amazed when people make quite confident predictions about their team losing.
This is totally right. Even that - as Freaky Euro would say - "glorious Czech golden generation" wouldn't make it without a little bit of luck. In 1999, the team lost 1-6 to Russia in a group game. Thus, in order to advance to the quarterfinals, we needed: first, defeat our long-time Nemesis Sweden in the last group game; and second, we needed Slovakia to at least draw their game with Russia. Earlier in the tournament, the Russians beat us 6-1 and we beat Slovaks in a blowout: 8-2. So it was pretty unlikely that this much needed scenario would actually happen. But against all odds, the Slovaks managed to draw their game with Russia, 2-2. The Russians actually scored the game winning goal, but right after the final buzz so that it was disallowed.
In the semifinals, we beat Canada in the shoot-out. Jan Hlaváč scored the gold-medal winning goal in OT against Finland.
In 2001, the semifinals game against Sweden was almost identical to that from this year. The Czechs drew it later in the third period then won in the shoot-outs. In the finals against Finland, we were down 0-2 after two periods but eventually tied it and Martin Procházka scored the game winning goal in OT.

And of course, I agree that Czech hockey has deep structural problems. Our junior teams are not competitive. Even though we are still able to build an impressively strong senior "A-team", the future (after Sochi) can be dark if the junior system doesn't undercome some major changes.

Last edited by Rexor: 05-25-2010 at 11:54 AM.
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