Five athletes to watch in men's hockey
Henrik Lundqvist (SWE)
Sweden won the gold medal in 2006, and a large part of their success was due to goalie Henrik Lundqvist. In the 2010 Games, Lundqvist was rock solid in net, but when he struggled against Slovakia, it cost his team. Sweden ended up losing 4-3 to the Slovaks and exiting the 2010 Olympics quicker than most anticipated. Lundqvist still hasn’t won a Stanley Cup and lost the 2013 Vezina Trophy (given to the top NHL goaltender) to Sergei Bobrovsky, who he’ll likely see protecting the Russian net in Sochi. Expect big things from "King Henrik," who will backstop a Swedish team that should include the Sedin twins, Niklas Backstrom, Loui Eriksson, and Carl Hagelin.
David Krejci (CZE)
Krejci showed glimpses of his talent and value in Vancouver where he scored two goals in five games with the Czech Republic. He’ll play for a Czech team that should include 2012-2013 Boston Bruins teammate Jaromir Jagr and New Jersey Devil Patrik Elias. Krejci should handle more of the scoring load now that Elias is 37 and Jagr is 41. Krejci is a master with his stick and has some of the best hands in the game. It should be fun to watch him let loose the tricks he’s got in his bag.
Evgeni Malkin (RUS)
Even though the focus in Russia might be on Alex Ovechkin or recent KHL addition Ilya Kovalchuck, Malkin might be the country’s most valuable asset. During the 2010 Olympics, Malkin had six points in four games. He’ll be in his home country with the pressure of the fans’ expectations, but he’s been dealing with that his whole NHL career in Pittsburgh.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Evgeni Malkin through the years
Sidney Crosby (CAN)
Ah, the most obvious of all choices. It’s impossible to ignore just how impactful Crosby is on the ice, as evident by his game-winning goal in the gold medal game in 2010. It was a moment that added to Crosby’s legend, but it also proved that "Sid the Kid" had the poise and skill to back up all the hype around him. Not that he needed any validation after winning a Stanley Cup in 2009, but winning your country a medal certainly helps.
Zach Parise (USA)
Parise single-handedly kept the United States in the gold medal game against Canada in 2010 with the goal he scored with under a minute left in the game. But Parise didn’t only perform at a high level in the final game; he did it the whole tournament. He had eight points in six games and provided some essential goal-scoring for the United States. If they want another chance at the gold, the United States will need Parise to shine like he did in Vancouver.