Team Czech Republic Preview: Goaltending


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By Jeffrey Otto
Staff Writer
If you know goalies Price, Holtby and Crawford, then you know Team Canada’s bullpen of goalies heading into Toronto for the World Cup of Hockey in September .  And if you also know goalies Quick, Bishop and Schneider, then you know Team USA’s goalies.  Both are very impressive squads, touting not only Playoff experience but Stanley Cup Championships as well.  Turning to Team Czech Republic’s goalies, things aren’t quite as glamorous.
The Czechs will be putting in net Petr Mrazek (DET), Michal Neuvirth (PHI) and Ondrej Pavelec (WIN).
First let’s look at some numbers.
 

Seasons

GP

GAA

SV%

Mrazek

4

94

2.29

.920

Neuvirth

10

200

2.66

.914

Pavelec

9

371

2.85

.907

Avg

7.6

222

2.60

.913

The first thing that jumps out at me is that the goalie with the least experience has the better numbers.  In listening to two of the analysts on SiriusXM NHL Radio, they were torn on who should be the starting goalie.  One favored Mrazek’s youth and better numbers, the other preferred Neuvirth for his experience.  Mrazek is certainly Johnny-come-lately, having only played a total of 11 games in his first two seasons with Detroit.  And last year he ran a little hot and cold, requiring the coaches to bench him in favor of Jimmie Howard. And although his playoff numbers this year were were impressive (1.36 GAA and .945 SV%), he went 1-2 and Detroit fell in the first round to the Lightning.  Neuvirth went 2-1 with a stellar 0.67 GAA and .981 SV%.  He pitched a shutout in Game 5 but the Flyers still couldn’t make it out of the first round.  Pavelec, the goalie with the most NHL experience, has the numbers that are the least impressive.  One almost gets the sense that he is a bit of a third wheel addition to the team; after all, the Czech Republic isn’t all that big, and there’s only so many Czechs in the NHL, let alone those who are goalies.  But, it’s better to have a third goalie than not, so welcome aboard Pavelec.
Now let’s talk strategy.  We’ve got youth with really good numbers, experience with good numbers and experience with so-so numbers.  Who do you start in net?  Keep in mind that it’s a round robin tournament with two groups of four teams, so you’re only guaranteed to play three games.  It’s hard to argue against starting either Mrazek or Neuvirth, as noted by SiriusXM NHL’s analysts.  So a hedge-your-bets strategy would be to start each one of them in one of the pre-tournament games and see who performs best.  Team Czech Republic coach Josef Jandac says that that will be his strategy, as he himself isn’t sure who he’ll start between the pipes when the tournament starts later this month.
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