Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Sweden hung on late to defeat the Czech Republic 4-3 in this morning's World Cup of Hockey game, the fourth Cup game out of 19 total Cup games on the schedule.

The CBC game crew today was Don Wittman and Greg Millen.

Predictably, after the shaky play in goal after the first game, the Swedes sat Tommy Salo and put Mikael Tellqvist in net. Not so predictably, Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicky benched Milan Hejduk, a guy who has 50-goal seasons on his resume. No real explanation was provided for this, and a CBC intermission interview with Martin Straka yielded no straight answers other than basically the company line. Apparently, Jaromir Jagr was also rumored to say that he didn't want to be playing in the Cup and said he should be on summer vacation right now. Needless to say, all of the broadcasting crew threw him under the bus for saying this.

The Czechs came out a little better overall than they did in their first game (and much better on defense), though they still weren't all that great.

Early in the period, Peter Forsberg hit the post after Marek Zidlicky gave away the puck after a bad pinch.

Conversely, Mikael Tellqvist made a key save on Martin Straka after he got the puck on a giveaway.

The Swedes were on the rush, and Markus Naslund passed the puck across to Henrik Zetterberg, but he didn't get enough juice on his shot, which was easily stopped.

The first goal of the game came when Mats Sundin got control of the puck behind the Czech net and dished the puck across to Fredrik Modin, who put the puck past Tomas Vokoun, probably with his own jersey (SWE 1-0). It wasn't his stick.

In the period, the Swedish defensemen were very aggressive on the pinch, sometimes to a fault, leading to some treacherous giveaways.

The studio crew (Scott Oake and Sean Burke) revealed that Canada defenseman (and Vancouver Canuck) Ed Jovanovski has a twisted knee and Ed indicated to some people that he may not return for the tournament. Big blow for the Canadians.

On an early Swedish power play, Marek Zidlicky lost the puck along the end boards in the Czech zone thanks to some grunt work by Naslund and Sundin. Tomas Holmstrom seized the puck and found Peter Forsberg, who banged it home (SWE 2-0).

Not long after, Daniel Alfredsson dug the puck out of the corner and found Mattias Ohlund, who tallied goal number three for the Swedes. Fredrik Modin drew the other assist on the play (SWE 3-0).

The Swedes would later once again find themselves on the power play, and for the third time in the game, they converted. Kim Johnsson fired a shot from the point with Vokoun stopped, but Henrik Zetterberg got in behind the Czech defensemen and put in the rebound (SWE 4-0).

Though they weren't nearly as asleep as they were in their first game against Finland two days ago, the Czechs were still seeing the same results, and it looked especially bleak when the Swedes killed off a 5-on-3 situation.

Late in the period, the Czechs had a scoring chance when Vaclav Prospal centered to Jagr in front of the net, but he was stopped by Tellqvist after struggling to find the puck and get off a decent shot amidst a three- or four-player scramble in front of the net.

Something appeared in this game that I hadn't seen in the three European games so far: something close to a fight. They just haven't been fighting at all, which I'm sure has a lot to do with the European style of play. It sure wasn't like the USA/Canada game last night where there were quite a few incidents. Martin Havlat and Henrik Zetterberg come to blows late in the period in the first real occurrence of fighting or roughing that I've seen (or actually remembered) in the European games in the World Cup to this point.

The Euros count up to 20 minutes on the arena clock (think soccer) during games rather than count down to zero like we do in this continent. It messed up the officials bigtime, and play was stopped for a short time, and play would be stopped on multiple occasions through the remainder of the game in attempts to fix the clock and make it run the other way.

Throughout the first two periods, the Swedish strategy consisted largely of firing point shots on the power play and going to the net to follow their shots and pick up rebounds. Seems simple enough, right?

In an after 40 interview, Pat Quinn told the CBC that there was "knee separation" on the Jovanovski injury. Not good.

After two periods of play, Tomas Vokoun had saved 14 shots and let four goals through, whereas Mikael Tellqvist had stopped all 22 shots he faced.

Hey, looked who showed up...it's the Czech Republic hockey team!! Welcome to the tournament!

Early in the period, Martin Havlat rifled a shot from the point that was redirected by Martin Rucinsky (Canuck) who was rushing toward the net. The Czechs would not go scoreless in this game, no sir.

The Czechs finally were working harder and the Swedes were having trouble keeping up. Not long after the Rucinsky goal, Henrik Zetterberg gave the puck away in his own zone. Jiri Dopita took control of the puck and found Zidlicky for the second Czech goal.

The Czechs almost scored their third goal after Jiri Slegr fired one just inside the blue line and Prospal redirected the puck toward Tellqvist. The puck got through Tellqvist's pads, but was moving slowly toward an open net. Prospal couldn't get out of the grasp of his defender, and Sundin raced in behind Tellqvist to make sure the puck didn't go in.

Later in the period, the Swedish penalty killing unit had just killed off a penalty but was under heavy pressure by the Czechs and were probably exhausted. Roman Hamrlik had his shot stopped by Tellqvist, but Patrik Elias pounced on the rebound and put it through the five-hole on Tellqvist, who was out of the crease. When it was all over, The Czeches scored three goals in the span of 11:13.

Andreas Johannson of the Swedes got called for a very untimely holding penalty with under two minutes left in the game. The Czechs had a power play and pulled Vokoun, allowing them to throw six skaters at the Swedes for the rest of the game. The CBC crew questioned the decision by Czech coach Vladimir Ruzicky to leave Jiri Dopita in the game, saying that although he's a faceoff specialist, you probably want someone else out there if you want offensive chances. The Czechs went with Daniel Alfredsson two chances at the empty net, but blew a tire at center ice on one of them after some contact (the fans thought he was hauled down). Tellqvist had a couple of key saves in the power play stretch, one of which came against Patrik Elias.

The Swedes played two great periods and played one not-so-good one. The Czechs didn't awaken from their slumber until the 3rd period, and they snapped back in a big way, requiring the Swedish team to hang on late.

CBC's three stars: Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Havlat, Fredrik Modin

If there's one thing we've learned from Sweden's first two games, it's this: don't make penalties if you're playing against Sweden, and really really stay away from stupid penalties, because the Swedish power play is absolutely nuts. You could commit a penalty against the Swedish team, but they'll just throw out some combination of Forsberg, Naslund, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Sundin, et al. No big deal.

Canada and Slovakia at 4pm, with Canada thankfully wearing the white sweaters.

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