by PuckStopsHere on 02/13/14 at 12:48 AM ET
I think the most interesting development from the first day of the Men's Olympic Hockey tournament has been the goaltending for the Czech Republic. I assumed their number one goalie would be Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets. He is the only NHL goaltender on their roster. Granted he isn't having the greatest season. He currently is posting a .901 saves percentage and a 2.97 GAA. Their other goalies are KHLers in Jakub Kovar and Alexander Salak. They are both posting solid numbers in the lesser league. Kovar plays with Automobilist Yekaterinburg and has posted a .934 saves percentage and a 1.91 GAA. Salak plays for SKA St Petersburg and has posted a .933 saves percentage and a 1.86 GAA. As good as those numbers would be in the NHL, they are in the later part of the top ten in the KHL.
The big surprise came when it was announced that Pavelec would be the healthy scratch goaltender for their opening game against Sweden.
Jakub Kovar began the game in the Czech nets. He was bad. He was pulled early in the second period after he allowed three goals on only ten shots. Alexander Salak finished the game. He allowed one more goal but wasn't very well tested. The Swedes "took their foot off the gas" after they had 3-0 lead and Kovar was pulled. The Swedes held on to win 4-2 in a game that was not nearly as close as the score showed.
It will be interesting to see how the Czechs handle their goaltending in the future. Will Pavelec be used from here on? It is clear that Kovar has lost his shot to be their top goalie. Will Salak get a chance in their next game?
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