All three Canadian forwards will be counted on significantly to put the puck past elite goaltenders next month.
There is no question that the Canadian team has star power and anything less than Olympic gold is simply not good enough. The pressure by the Canadian public is immense and the hockey tournament at the Olympic Winter Games will be just as important to Canadians as the World Cup soccer event will mean to Europeans this summer.
Where Canada might be better in 2014 than 2010 is their overall depth. Every line for Team Canada has the capability to produce and their defense is just as deep--led by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.
Canada will be challenged--mostly by Russia, the United States and Sweden. Of the three, the Swedes look the most dangerous. They will be led by former Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
The U.S. and Russia both seem to have loopholes--the Americans with their offensive depth and Russia with their defensive experience. Finland could also contend for a medal because of their strong goaltending depth, but I feel this is their least talented team up front in a while.
On the women's side, the United States are the clear favourite based on their dominance over Canada in exhibition play in December and the fact that they were without one of the star offensive forwards in Amanda Kessel.
Finland meanwhile gets the edge over Russia, Switzerland and Sweden for bronze after their impressive performance at the Four Nations Cup in Lake Placid, New York in November where they upset the United States 3-1.
Here are my predictions for hockey: