From historical curiosities to thought-provoking trends, here are some of the stats defining coach Vladimir Ruzicka's Czech team in Minsk in round-robin play.
Hertl to Top Jagr?
With four points (2-2-4) in his first four IIHF World Championship games, Tomas Hertl is on pace to score more than legendary teammate Jaromir Jagr did in his 10-game Worlds debut with Czechoslovakia in 1990 (3-2-5). In fairness, though, Hertl is 20 years old, while Jagr was just 18 then.
Jakub Kovar on Shaky Ground
2014 has not been a banner campaign for goaltender Jakub Kovar in international hockey so far.
At the Olympics in February, Kovar was chosen by then-coach Alois Hadamczik to start in the Czech Republic’s opener against Sweden. He allowed three goals on seven shots in the first 20:51, recording a save percentage of 70.0 and a goals-against average of 8.63 before being pulled for Alexander Salak in this 4-2 loss. The Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg netminder never played again in Sochi.
Similarly in Minsk, Kovar has played just 36:54, allowing four goals on 13 shots in a 4-1 loss to Canada. He was likewise yanked in favour of Salak, and now owns a save percentage of 69.2 and a 6.59 goals-against average.
Jan Kovar’s Penalty Peril
Jakub Kovar’s brother Jan, participating in his second straight Worlds, has racked up a lot of sin bin time so far. Against Canada, he took a tripping minor in the first period, and received a major and a game misconduct for a second-period high stick that left Canadian captain Kevin Bieksa bloodied.
With 27 PIM, Jan Kovar could actually find himself tied with Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk for the dubious distinction of the second-most penalty minutes ever at one tournament (52 in 2008) – if he takes another 5+20 penalty. He’d then be just eight back of Italy’s Mario Chitarroni for the all-time lead (60 in 2001).
Fortunately, however, this seems unlikely to happen. The 24-year-old forward had just 46 PIM in 54 games this season with the KHL’s Gagarin Cup champion, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Will Rolinek Roll Again?
The last time the Czech Republic won World Championship gold (2010), Tomas Rolinek served as the captain, as he’s also doing this year. Rolinek, 34, scored four of his eight career World Championship goals to date in that one tournament in Germany.
Ruzicka and Company have to hope his productivity will take off again in an Olympic year. But so far, the Sparta Prague stalwart is goalless.
Whither the Scoring?
How many goals will the Czech Republic score this year? Last year’s output of 20 goals in eight games, or 2.5 goals per game, was the nation’s lowest in the post-Czechoslovakia era since 1995 (17 goals in eight games). That yielded a seventh-place finish.
After beating Italy 2-0, the Czechs are up to 11 goals in four games this year, an average of 2.75 goals per game.