Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Extraliga teams return to the ice

After a week of international hockey, it is now time for domestic leagues to move back into the forefront of European hockey. In The Czech Republic, the Extraliga is now in its stretch drive, and the action began with a single game on Tuesday with Slavia Praha defeating Oceláři Třinec 2-1. The win temporarily moved Slavia into fifth place. On Wednesday, the league's other 12 teams were in action.

Plzeň's Tomáš Vlasák scores his league-leading 30th goal of the
season. Photo: Milan Podpera,
Plzeň 1929 clinched a playoff spot with a 4-1 home ice win over Kometa Brno. In a proverbial 6-point game, Kometa could have climbed to within 3 points of Plzeň with a win, but instead lost and have now made a playoff spot look very unlikely. At one point in November, Brno led Plzeň by as many as 20 points, but the two teams have travelled in completely opposite directions since then.

Watch the Plzeň 1929-Kometa Brno game in its entirety here:

As bad as the day was for Kometa Brno, it could have been even worse. Benzina Litvínov and Energie Karlovy Vary could have both clinched playoff berths with victories, which would have mathematically eliminated Brno. However, Litvínov lost 5-2 in České Budějovice and Karlovy Vary lost in a shootout to PSG Zlín, picking up 1 point. Still, they will need to win their final 2 games in regulation and hope either Litvínov or Karlovy Vary lose both of theirs.

The win by Mountfield České Budějovice and Eaton Pardubice hammering Vagnerplast Kladno 7-3 means Slavia slides back to seventh. Getting a top-six spot is key, as these teams will advance directly to the quarter-finals, while teams seven through 10 play a best-of-five play-in round. Pardubice was led by 4 goals from Radovan Somík.

Vítkovice Steel beat BK Mladá Boleslav 3-1. Vítkovice remains in fourth place, a point behind Zlín, while Boleslav is now 5 points back of Kladno with 2 games left, meaning their magic number is down to 1, as far as being forced into a play-out series against the First League winner.

Though they have long been out of the playoff race, Sparta Praha beat Bílí Tigři Liberec in a shootout on Wednesday to prevent Liberec from moving into a first place tie with their North Bohemian rivals from Třinec. David Výborny scored the shootout winner.

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