Team Canada was fueled by a pair of goals from Wojtek Wolski to run away with a 5-1 in the squad's tournament opener. Canada is back in action Friday night.
Amid an opening slate of games that produced plenty of shocking results, Team Canada was one of the only tournament favourites to come out looking good. Canada looks to remain unbeaten in Group A action as it faces Czech Republic at Gangneung Hockey Centre as the Olympic men’s competition continues Friday night (Saturday afternoon in South Korea). The Canadians cruised past Switzerland, while the Czechs eked out a win over the host team.
Canada vs. Czech Republic
Olympic Hockey Odds and Betting Analysis
Canada is expected to cruise past the Czechs – but given how both the United States and Russia lost their opening games, no team can take anything for granted. What bettors do know is that the Canadians looked impressive in their opener, routing the Swiss 5-1 behind two-goal efforts from former NHL forwards Rene Bourque and Wojtek Wolski. The Czechs are installed at +218 to prevail in regulation after barely squeaking out a 2-1 win over a plucky Korean side.
The Canadians came into the tournament as the second favourite, but are probably No. 1 now that the Olympic Athletes from Russia opened the competition with a stunning 3-2 loss to Slovakia. While Canada was actually outshot 29-28, the shot tally doesn’t tell the whole story; the Canadians had far more high-danger scoring chances and made it a quick night for Swiss netminder Leonardo Genoni, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 12 shots. Undisciplined teams will pay dearly against a Canadian power-play unit that converted twice in three opportunities against Switzerland. Canada will also look to tighten up the penalty kill, which allowed one goal on three Swiss chances.
Ben Scrivens was barely tested in a 28-save effort; look for either Kevin Poulin or Justin Peters to get the start against the Czechs as the Canadian side evaluates its goaltending options before the elimination round.
Team Czech Republic
Cho Minho’s goal at 7:34 of the first period sent shockwaves – and a wave of elation – through the city of Gangneung. But Jan Kovar and Michal Repik restored a sense of normalcy by scoring later in the period, and the Czechs dominated play from there to survive a serious scare. It will need a much better effort against the Canadians, but has the offensive firepower to make a game of it in what will be the marquee matchup of Group A.
Pavel Francouz stopped 17 shots in the victory, but will likely cede the crease to either Patrik Bartosak or Dominik Furch; Bartosak toils for Vitkovice Ostrava of the Czech League, while Furch plays for Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Korea failed to capitalize on four power-play chances, but the Czechs won’t be as fortunate if they give Canada the same opportunities. They also spoiled a pair of power-play chances in the third period, finishing 1-for-3 in the game.
Canada vs. Czech Republic Prediction
Canada 5, Czech Republic 3