It was a case of lack of confidence in the back end and some serious possum by the Czechs, a situation that led to a major embarrassment to Team Sweden Tuesday, as the Czech Republic dominated the game and the scoreboard with a 6-1 victory over an overwhelmed Swedish squad.
With the win the Czechs are off to North America, moving on to face either Canada or the USA in the semi finals of the World Cup of Hockey. Milan Hejduk provided some offence with two goals as the Czechs who had looked disinterested in the early portions of this tournament, turned on the jets in elimination quarterfinal. Martin Straka. Martin Havlat, Marek Zdlicky and Radek Dvorak were the other Czechs with a scoring touch on Tuesday.
Things were so bad for the Swedes that they were down 5-0 before they managed to find the net themselves, the first period featured only 4 Swedish shots on goal and by the end of the game things hadn’t improved very much, Sweden finished the game with only 18 shots directed at Tomas Vokoun, who turned aside all but Tomas Holstrom’s short handed attempt in the third period.
Michael Tellqvist did not have one of his best games in a Swedish uniform but it wasn’t necessarily his fault completely, Sweden’s defence took the night off and back checking suddenly became a forgotten art as the Czechs crashed the Swedish zone at will. Time after time the Czechs would set up behind Vokoun and take the puck the length of the ice taking advantage of a welcoming defence who refused to turn them back at the blue line.
The Czechs, who were a disorganized and less than cohesive looking unit in the earlier games, looked like a machine in front of the sold out crowd of Swedish fans in Stockholm. While Vladimir Ruzicka has had his difficulties getting his charges to play on the same page the last week, it all fell into place at the right time and now the Czechs are but two games away from hoisting the World Cup of Hockey.
As for the Swedes there will be many answers about this performance and how a team that looked so dominant in the preliminary round, could look so out of place when the time to win came around. Some questions are out there now for various NHL teams, Toronto must be a little concerned about Tellqvist’s lack of focus in this tournament and the Canucks must be wondering about the talent level of the Sedin twins, who did not see any action in the tournament, benched for the duration as it turned out. It wasn’t too many Olympics ago that the Swedes put out that special postage stamp celebrating a Swedish victory over Canada. Perhaps the Swedish post office may wish to issue an updated version, in this one there should be a giant hole in the middle of the net, symbolizing the black hole that Swedish hockey has just entered.