Haggerty breaks down U.S. 5-2 win over Czech Rep.

Haggerty breaks down U.S. 5-2 win over Czech Rep.
February 19, 2014, 3:15 pm

GOLD STAR: David Backes has been consistently good in the tournament for Team USA, and had his best game of the tourney against the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Backes finished with two points (one goal, one assist) and brought his hard-hitting best to the table when a big shot on Jaromir Jagr turned a puck over that led to the go-ahead goal for Dustin Brown. Then Backes scored the back-breaking goal that ended up being the game-winning goal with 1.8 seconds remaining in the first period. The Backes goal gave Team USA a 3-1 lead at the time, and visibly deflated a Czech Republic team that was never the same again after a good first period. We won’t even mention the action Backes is taking to rescue stray dogs in Sochi while over there with Team USA, but it goes without saying he’s a quality individual.
 
BLACK EYE: Ondrej Pavelec was viewed as a weak link for the Czech Republic, and that proved to be the case against a USA team that can expose weak goaltending. The first goal allowed to James van Riemsdyk was a bad angle goal that squired between Pavelec and the post, and the goal to Backes with 1.8 seconds remaining happened after Pavelec flopped like a fish in his crease. That left plenty of wide open space for Backes to shoot at. The fourth goal allowed to Zach Parise was similarly sloppy goaltending from Pavelec, and he was yanked after allowing four goals on 12 shots.
 
TURNING POINT: The David Backes score with 1.8 seconds remaining broke open a 2-1 game where the Czech Republic had played a solid first period. It was a second chance goal off a wild bounce from the end boards with Tomas Kaberle wandering far away from the net in a familiar out-of-place position in the D-zone. The Team USA goal came just seconds after Roman Cervenka threw a shot off the post, and was exactly the kind of turnaround that stunned the Czechs. Once Zach Parise made it a 4-1 lead in the second period it was all over for the Czech Republic.
 
HONORABLE MENTION: A team-high 22:10 of ice time, three assists and a plus-1 for Ryan Suter, who played a whale of a game after a botched pass to Ryan McDonagh led to a goal against in the first period. Suter has been Team USA’a best defenseman by a country mile during the tournament, and he’s played heavy minutes while filling big roles at both ends of the ice. While there have been questions about some of the roster decisions with Team USA’s defensemen, there is no question that Suter is the head and shoulders best for the Americans.
 
NEXT OPPONENT: Canada fired 57 shots on Latvia, but only escaped with a 2-1 win against the Latvians in the almost upset special of the day. Sidney Crosby continues to struggle for the Canadians, who have been carried by Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and a Canada D-men crew that have scored seven of Canada’s 13 goals in the tournament thus far. Carey Price was excellent for Canada in the game vs. Latvia, but Team Canada hasn’t played anything close to their best hockey in the tourney. They’ll need it all and then some against a Team USA squad that’s rolled through their first four games.
 
BRUINS BY THE NUMBERS: David Krejci made the centering pass that set up Ales Hemsky’s first goal of the game, but wasn’t credited with an assist by the game officials. Instead he finished up his 2014 Olympic experience going 5-for-15 in the face-off circle, squeezing off one shot on net and playing 17:43 of competitive ice time against a dominating Team USA. Krejci had a good tournament, and lost to the better team in the end.
 
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's alright. That Kessel guy is even better, though.” – Jonathan Toews when asked about playing his teammate Pat Kane on Friday at noontime Eastern in semi-finals.