Elias inclusion will help Czechs

Scoring is the name of the game at the World Championship

02.05.2009
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Zurich  SWITZERLAND

The Czechs need timely scoring if they are going to succeed. Photo by Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

ZURICH-KLOTEN – To say that Patrik Elias is coming to the 2009 IIHF World Championships to play for the Czech Republic is big news is an understatement. His arrival comes at a time when the Czech Republic can really use his goal-scoring prowess. Elias will compliment an already talented lineup of forwards that includes Jaromir Jagr, Ales Hemsky, and Ales Kotalik and Petr Cajanek. Even with such a roster of skilled players, the Czechs have had a lot of problems with these players scoring goals. Hemsky, Cajanek, Jan Marek, and defenseman Miroslav Blatak are tied for the team lead with two apiece. The lack of scoring was readily apparent in their 5-1 loss against Canada. The Czechs were outshot 45-24 and did not score until the 57:20 mark of the game when Hemsky ruined Chris Mason’s bid for a shutout. Elias certainly has the tools to help with goal scoring. Elias has been a prolific scorer throughout his NHL career. His best season was the 2000-01 campaign when he scored 40 goals and 96 points. This season, Elias finished with 31 goals and 78 points. Elias represented the Czech Republic at the 2008 World Championships in Canada. Despite a fifth place finish in the tournament by the Czechs, Elias led the team in goal scoring with six tallies and second in total points with nine. He will see plenty of ice time for the Czech and team with Jaromir Jagr to create a formidable combination at even strength and special teams. Of course while all eyes were focused on the Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers playoff game, the New Jersey Devils were attempting to stave off elimination against the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite the disappointment of the Devils playoff exit, Elias has the opportunity to help the Czechs for the remainder of the Qualifying Round and later in the round of eight. New Jersey’s loss is definitely Team Czech Republic’s gain. In their remaining Qualification Round games, the Czech Republic will be looking to better position themselves in the standings in getting to the playoff round. A win today and a Belarus loss will put them third in Group F behind Canada and Finland. If the Czech Republic is going to advance in this tournament and return to the heights of medal contention, Elias will have to work with his side to get more pucks in the net. JOHN SANFUL

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