One thing is certain in the unpredictable, topsy-turvy Group A: nothing is certain. That sentiment manifested itself in the first of two games in the final day of the preliminary round.
After a pair of dazzling assists from Dmitrij Jaskin that broke a 1-1 tie to give the Czech Republic a two-goal lead with just 20 minutes remaining, that unpredictability reared it's exciting head. Switzerland's power play struck twice in the final eight minutes to send the game to overtime. That gave the Swiss a point in the standings they desperately needed to pull ahead of Finland, the team who a pair of idiots picked to reach the Gold medal game.
But in the extra session, it didn't take Jaskin long to strike again. As the puck wrapped around the boards, Jaskin picked it up at the hash marks and showed the creativity that got him picked 40th overall in 2011 by the St. Louis Blues. Jaskin noticed Tomas Hertl was skating into the same corner he was facing, and as he reached the net, Jaskin threw the puck against the back boards.
The puck bounced perfectly onto Hertl's stick, who then beat Swiss goaltender Melvin Nyffeler to the far post for a wrap-around goal. The game-winner pulled the Czechs into a tie in points with Sweden for the moment.
In the second period, Jaskin helped the Czechs regain the lead with two plays that are sure to be on a highlight reel coming to you soon. Skating into the corner and holding a Swiss defenseman off with one hand, he slid a pass out in front of the short side of the net right on the tape of teammate Michal Svihalek.
His second assist was a one-touch, backhanded pass to Tomas Hyka, the third man trailing on a 2-on-1, who essentially deposited the puck into a vacated net. Take your pick. One was prettier than the last.
(videos courtesy of CZHokej)
With Russia, Canada and the United States all in Group B, no one was sure what to expect from Group A. But Jaskin's play has elevated the Czechs to the medal round, and a legitimate threat for a medal. Jaskin has been one of the more impressive players at this tournament on a team that features a lot of speed but not many household names. If he pulls off plays like that in the knockout stage, he may quickly become one himself.