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Team-by-team breakdown (Czechs)

There was once a time when the Czechs entered these tournaments as strong favorites. They won Olympic gold in 1998 and followed that with a string of world championship glory in the 2000s.

But those years are gone.

The Czechs aren't the powerhouse they once were. For whatever reason, they're not producing high-end talent like they used to.

But they play well as a team and still have enough talent to surprise.

Five things to watch

There was once a time when the Czechs entered these tournaments as strong favorites. They won Olympic gold in 1998 and followed that with a string of world-championship glory in the 2000s.

But those years are gone.

The Czechs aren't the powerhouse they once where. For whatever reason, they're not producing high-end talent like they used to.

But they play well as a team and still have enough talent to surprise.

Five things to watch

1. When 42-year-old Petr Nedved makes your Olympic squad, you know you're in trouble. Honestly, I didn't even know he still played hockey. In fact, he's a point-a-game player in the Czech league this season, so like his old pal Jaromir Jagr, the old dude still has game apparently.

2. There's some decent firepower up front led by Jagr, David Krejci, Tomas Plekanec, Patrik Elias, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky and Jakub Voracek. Scoring goals should not be an issue. Still, it's mind-boggling that coach Alois Hadamczik left off the likes of Radim Vrbata and Jiri Hudler. No excuse for leaving those two players off the team.

3. In Hanzal, Plekanec and Krejci, the Czechs have a real solid 1-2-3 punch at center. Hanzal and Plekanec are among the better penalty killers in the NHL as well.

4. The blue-line corps isn't the strength of the team. Zbynek Michalek is the top defenseman, followed by Marek Zidlicky, Ladislav Smid, Michal Rozsival and yes, Tomas Kaberle (now playing in the Czech league). All in all, this is where the Czechs might get exposed.

5. Ondrej Pavelec is the lone NHL netminder on the team. Like the rest of his teammates in Winnipeg, Pavelec has played better since Paul Maurice took over as coach, and that's a relief for the Czechs to see him stopping pucks.

Breakout player to watch: Michael Frolik, Winnipeg Jets

He remains such an underrated, two-way forward. He was a solid contributor on the Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks last season. The Olympics will be his chance to show the world his all-around game.

Prediction

The Czechs have the experience on this roster to surprise, but I don't think it's going to happen for them in Sochi. Too many holes in this lineup. I foresee a quarterfinal exit.