Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Ondrej Pavelec won't dress versus Sweden

Martin Rose

Pavelec will be in the stands as the Czech Republic opens their tournament against Sweden.

Well, that was fast.

In the lead up to their Olympic debut, the Czech Republic has named a starting goaltender and it isn't Ondrej Pavelec.

As reported by Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, Pavelec will be a spectator for his country's opening game against Sweden tomorrow.

"It’s the coaches decision. But he told me I would play in the second game against Latvia." -Ondrej Pavelec (via Gary Lawless, WFP)

Jakub Kovar has been declared the starter and as discusses in our preview of the Czech roster, he has posted sneaky good numbers in the KHL these past three seasons. He will be backed up by former Florida Panthers draft pick Alexander Salak.

Truthfully this isn't that surprising of a decision when you consider how the Olympic format works. Clearly Czech management wants to see what Kovar has to offer against one of the tournaments top teams in Sweden. Should he be needed in the relegation rounds, his coaching staff will have a body of work to evaluate their decision on.

Pavelec, for his part, will be given the opportunity to dazzle against much lesser competition in a Latvian team whose best known player is Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons.

Unless Kovar plays lights out hockey against the Swedes, this is still Pavelec's job to lose. But for the first time since coming up alongside Kari Lehtonen, the chips aren't all in the hands of the Winnipeg Jets' netminder. Let's see how he responds to the challenge.

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