Things to know about U.S.-Czechs

Creating a stir

So maybe a little internal friction isn't such a bad thing after all. From the get-go in Sochi there has been an unsettled buzz around the Czech Republic squad, whether it was initial roster decisions, the decision to bench Winnipeg Jets netminder Pavelec in the first game or the illness that has plagued veteran star Patrik Elias, causing him to miss the last couple of games.

Regardless, it didn't keep the Czechs from edging their neighbors and former countrymen by a 5-3 count on Tuesday night to set up a date with the U.S. in the quarterfinals. The Czechs made it interesting by nearly blowing a 4-0 lead, but Pavelec, who has stopped 72 of 78 shots he's faced in the past three games, held the fort. The Czech power play struggled prior to Tuesday's win, going 1-for-12, but it scored twice Tuesday with the man advantage and moved the puck very smartly on the PP.

"You think it was interesting? That was very tight in the third period, to be honest with you. We were up 4-0, we kind of, to be honest, we kind of stopped playing. We thought it was a sure win," Czech winger Jakub Voracek said.

Now the challenge is to turn around and play like they did in the first two periods against the U.S.

"I was saying earlier I think it's the best team in the tournament," Voracek said. "The way they're playing, they're playing great hockey. We've got to be sure we got our power play going like we did today because special team is going to be huge tomorrow.

"We've got nothing to lose. We won this one. Now the U.S. are a great team. They have a young team, a lot of great players. They can score, they're a fast team and they're playing great the whole tournament, so we have nothing to lose," added Ales Hemsky.

There is plenty of firepower in the Czech lineup, and the U.S. will have to be cognizant of not crossing the line physically. If head coach Alois Hadamczik goes with the same lineup, the top two lines will look like this: Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec and Roman Cervenka (who had two on Tuesday), and Hemsky, Milan Michalek and David Krejci. Of course, assuming what Czech head coach Alois Hadamczik is going to do hasn't been a particularly fruitful proposition of late.

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