Switzerland-Czech Republic Preview
Off to a hot start in Sochi, the ageless Jaromir Jagr just helped the Czech Republic take care of business against a weaker Group C opponent.
He believes Saturday's matchup versus Switzerland will be a much better measuring stick.
Jagr notched his second goal of the Olympics and Jakub Voracek put the Czech Republic (1-1) up for good in the second period in Friday's 4-2 win over Latvia. Jagr has already matched or surpassed his goal total from each of his previous four trips to the games.
"He just has that skill," Latvia forward Zemgus Girgensons said. "No matter how old he is, he's just an amazing player and it's fun to play against him."
Jagr, a member of hockey's Triple Gold Club with titles from the Olympics, the world championships and the NHL, turns 42 on Saturday.
"I don't get old, man. I am alive. God help me," said Jagr, who leads the New Jersey Devils with 17 goals and 32 assists. "We always feel good. We are from the Czech Republic. We are always loose, man. We've got always fun. No pressure. We have to probably win at least four games. No big deal."
Marek Zidlicky added a goal and an assist, and Martin Erat also scored for the Czechs. Ondrej Pavelec made 18 saves in his Olympic debut after he was surprisingly scratched in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to Sweden.
"I thought we controlled the game," center David Krejci told the International Ice Hockey Federation's official website. "We played with the puck, so that's how the Czech team needs to play."
After splitting their first two games, it remains to be seen if the Czechs have what it takes to compete for a medal.
"We have to wait for a tougher game," Jagr said. "(Latvia is) a pretty good team, but you felt like from the first minute, we've got the game under control. ... So we have to wait for (Saturday's game against Switzerland) to see what kind of team we are."
Switzerland (1-1) opened group play with a 1-0 win over Latvia on Wednesday before falling 1-0 to Sweden on Friday. Reto Berra made 30 saves, allowing the only goal on a rebound with 7:21 left in the third period.
"We just made one mistake in our D zone and that was the difference in the game," said forward Roman Wick, whose team failed to get anything past Henrik Lundqvist. "We saw two great goalies today and it was a fun game - but it would have been more fun with more goals."
Switzerland coach Sean Simpson said he will go back to Jonas Hiller, who stopped 21 shots against Latvia.
The Swiss may need to win in the qualification round to reach the quarterfinals even if they beat the Czechs to finish second in their group.