Malek, Slavia Advance to Czech Finals

By Bill Meltzer

Any fears that Roman Malek is fatigued have been more than laid to rest by the goaltender in the quarterfinals and semi-finals of the Czech playoffs. The goaltender, who set a league single season shutout record consistently kept his goals against average under 1.50 until a mini-slump at the tail end of the season, has found his second wind in the playoffs.

Through the semi-finals, Malek has been virtually unbeatable for Slavia Prague, as his 1.06 GAA, 3 shutouts and .967 save percentage attest. Malek and his Slavia team just closed out their semi-final series with city arch-rival Sparta with a 5-2 win.

In order for Slavia to bring home the championship, Malek will have to continue to shine. The finals pit Slavia, the second best regular season team, against a powerhouse Pardubice club that easily placed first in the league. The matchup will see Pardubice’s high-powered offense (#2 in the league) against the number one defensive team in the league. Malek, of course, is the biggest reason why fans in Prague are hopeful of winning the title. Game one is on Saturday.

Malek is a virtual shoo-in to make the Czech roster for the World Championships after the league playoffs conclude. His playing time in the tournament will depend primarily on the availability of NHL goaltenders. In addition to Malek, the Slavia roster also features Flyer draftee Milan Kopecky. The young winger has two goals in nine playoff games.