I realize that there is an Olympic thread here but I feel that Mens Hockey deserves its own exclusive thread.
ESPN's Canadian players to watch:
Martin Brodeur, Canada
In 2002, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman provided an immeasurable calming presence as Canada's players tried to snap a 50-year Olympic gold-medal drought. Now the task is perhaps greater, winning the Olympic title on home soil, where nothing short of gold will be acceptable to 35 million armchair quarterbacks. No problem, said Brodeur.
"You really have to relish that opportunity that you have a chance to create something great for your country," Brodeur told ESPN.com earlier this season. "We got a little taste of it with the 2004 World Cup on home soil [in Montreal and Toronto].
"Certainly not to the extent of what the Olympics will be like, but we did have a lot of pressure in the World Cup right in our backyard, and I think we handled ourselves pretty good. So I'm happy to have that pressure on home soil. You can't be afraid of it. I look at it as an opportunity to create something unbelievable."
Is there a more unflappable player in this tournament?
Sidney Crosby, Canada
There was much discussion after Crosby, then in his rookie season, was left off the Canadian squad four years ago. Since then, he's won a scoring title and an MVP trophy, reached the Cup finals and won it all last spring. As of Sunday, Crosby was second in goals with 41, one behind Alex Ovechkin, and third in points. He's also expected to shoulder a significant burden for the host team. No wonder hearts skipped a beat across the country when Crosby blocked a shot in the Penguins' final pre-Olympic game Sunday and came up limping.I had no idea they were in the tourny:Joe Thornton, Canada
Spend five minutes with Team USA coach Ron Wilson and Thornton's name pops up routinely. The Americans are fixated with Canada's size, most notably trying to stop Thornton's meaty San Jose line with Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau. There is fear, not just in the USA camp, that the big Canadian boys will run wild on the smaller NHL ice in Vancouver. This tournament is a glorious chance for Thornton, the NHL's assist leader this season, to paint a new picture of himself on such a big stage and prove his critics wrong. People seem to forget what a terrific tournament he had in September 2004, when he helped Canada win the last World Cup of Hockey.
Peter Forsberg, Sweden
One of the great hockey talents of all time, Forsberg has made his mark both as an NHLer and internationally for the Swedes. But we have to wonder what is left in Forsberg's tank since he saw his NHL career end in fits and starts thanks to a perpetually injured foot that also contributed to other health issues. Still, Forsberg has collected 20 points in 17 games for Modo in the Swedish Elite League, remains one of the fiercest competitors in the game and could provide one of those magical "one for the road" memories in Vancouver.ESPN.comJaromir Jagr, Czech Republic
Another blast from the NHL past, the five-time NHL scoring champ has been hanging out in Russia for the past couple of years amid persistent rumors he'd like to come back to the NHL after this season. Jagr, who turns 38 on Monday, isn't the player he once was, but has 42 points in 49 games for Avangard Omsk this season and will bring his A-game to his fourth Olympics.