Olympic Hockey Picks: Czech Republic vs. Latvia

David Lawrence

Thursday, February 13, 2014 1:31 PM GMT

The Czech Republic and Latvia both produced disheartening results in their opening contest. While nothing was expected from Latvia, the Czech Republic’s lack of a competitive effort against Sweden was discouraging.

2014 Winter Olympics Men’s Group C Hockey Betting Odds

Czech Republic Can Win Because…

They have a huge edge in talent in this contest. Sure, they fell behind early against a tough Swedish team and couldn’t dig themselves out of it but this is going to be a much easier contest. After facing one of the gold medal favorites, facing a team like Latvia should be a breeze.

The Czechs are expected to start Ondrej Pavelec in net for this game and truth be told, he’s their best starter. They were victimized by shoddy goaltending in the opener and putting Pavelec in from the get-go will give them a better chance to win.

Latvia Can Win Because…

They fought valiantly against Switzerland. That’s an encouraging sign.

Latvia is expected to be a doormat in this tournament but in their opener, they showed that kitty can scratch. They are going to fight and claw in all of their games, and they aren’t going to be a pushover. Switzerland needed a game-winning goal with eight seconds left in regulation just to triumph. However, the Swiss had an All-Star NHL caliber goaltender in Jonas Hiller leading the way. The Czech don’t have anyone that good between the pipes, so Latvia might have a shot.

Outlook & Pick

If you thought the Czechs had an outside shot of winning this tournament, think again. Those are not good futures hockey odds to invest in right now. However, Latvia isn’t going to offer them much resistance. With Pavelec in net and a much worse opponent in front of them, look for the Czechs to get their first win.

Pick: Sweden -2.5 -108 at Pinnacle

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