Team Canada begins the quest to repeat as the Gold Medal winners on Thursday, taking on an outgunned Norway team in the first of three round robin games in Group B.
Canada vs. Norway (Group B)
Game time: 12 p.m. ET, 9 p.m. Sochi time
TV: USA Network (USA), CBC (Canada)
Streaming: NBCOlympics.com (USA), Olympics.CBC.ca (Canada)
Led by the best player in the world and sporting the deepest and most talented roster in the Olympics, the Canadians are once again favorites to win the Gold in Sochi. Despite once again heading into the tournament with the highest of high expectations, Canada has struggled away from North America during Olympics past, failing to medal in 1998 in Nagano and 2006 in Turin.
Sidney Crosby leads an impossibly deep roster of talented forwards, with Jonathan Toews, John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf rounding out the center position for Canada heading into the first game. The Canadians can boast the same amount of depth on the wings, featuring some of the best two-way forwards in the NHL along with most of the top scorers so far in the 2013-14 season.
Led by the dastardly pairing of Shea Weber and Duncan Keith, the Canadian blueline is also the deepest in the tournament and the biggest question heading into the game against Norway was whether P.K. Subban would play on Thursday or Friday.
While Roberto Luongo helped lead Canada to Gold in Vancouver, it's Carey Price who will ride his hot season in Montreal into the first game of the 2014 Olympics. Luongo is expected to be in goal on Friday against Austria. With rosters expanded to 20 skaters for the Olympics, coach Mike Babcock has opted to go with 13 forwards and seven defensemen, with Martin St. Louis and defenseman Dan Hamhuis taking up the extra spots on the bench.
For Norway, a team whose biggest name is the young budding NHL star Mats Zuccarello, all the pressure will be on goaltender Lars Haugan. The KHL netminder has never stepped across the pond to the NHL and is expected to face an offensive barrage, as Canada beat Norway 8-0 while hanging nearly 50 shots on goal back in 2010 in Vancouver.
Canada shouldn't face much trouble against Norway and will use the games on Thursday and Friday to get used to the international ice while also taking advantage of the expanded rosters. Canada faces Finland, who beat Austria 6-4, on Sunday.