Defenseman Marek Zidlicky of the New Jersey Devils may not be a household name to the casual hockey observer, but he has all of the pedigree to suggest he belongs included on a Czech Republic Olympic team that is littered with NHL talent.
Zidlicky, 36, will represent his nation in the Olympics for the third time during February’s Sochi Games, where he will be the elder-statesman of his team’s defensive corps. Zidlicky has been productive in his previous Olympic experiences; he put up ten points (four goals and six assists) in 12 games playing for his country in the Torino, Italy Games in 2006 and in the Vancouver, Canada Olympics in 2010.
Offensive production is the hallmark of Zidlicky’s game. He is an offensive minded defenseman with great, yet underrated, power play ability. He has played 664 games in his 10 year NHL career with the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and the Devils, and in that time he has amassed 74 goals and 276 assists for 350 points, that’s more than a point every other game, which is a very good scoring record for a defenseman. Exactly half of those points, 175, have come on the man advantage where Zidlicky has 125 assists and has lit the lamp 50 times himself.
Although he is an offensive minded player Zidlicky is not a defensive liability at the blue line. The 5’11” Zidlicky is not an imposing defensive figure in his own zone, but he is solid. He has averaged more than 20 minutes per game in every season of his career except one, the 2006-07 campaign when he was a member of the Predators in which he averaged 19:43 per game.
Zidlicky will likely play a similar role for the Czech’s as he does with the Devils in that he will play between 20 and 22 minutes per game and see a lot of power play time, probably teaming up with former Toronto Maple Leafs d-man Tomas Kaberle on the power play unit. I expect the Czech team to be in medal contention in this tournament and Zidlicky will be playing a major role in their success or failure.