The United States is looking to get back to the Gold medal game, but will have to get by an improving Czech Republic team to continue on that path. For the Americans, they can’t afford to look beyond a Czech squad that has been steadily getting better as the 2014 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey tournament has gone on.
Despite being the favorites in this contest, the US will need to come up with a strong and steady effort against Czechs. With a roster that has provided eight different goal scorers so far, the Czech Republic is capable of rolling lines with the United States for the most part.
America’s bottom-six might be a touch better, but players like Ondrej Palat and Michael Frolik have yet to really get going for the Czech Republic. If they can show up and play a good, sound game in all three zones then they have a good shot at taking down the Americans.
The US has yet to truly take a night off though, and has had the foot on the gas throughout the preliminary round. Beyond the heroics of T.J. Oshie, they might have the best forward in the tournament in Phil Kessel. This is an intriguing matchup where the opening 10 or 15 minutes will be of the utmost importance.