The field: Host Russia will be under considerable pressure to win gold for the first time since several former Soviet republics competed as the Unified Team in 1992. An explosive offense led by NHL standouts Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin is capable of delivering, but the Russian team imploded at the last two Olympics and finished out of the medals. Defending champion Canada is incomparable up the middle, with Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf. But Sweden, Finland and the U.S. can match Canada's goaltending.
U.S. chances to medal: Excellent. Team USA lost the 2010 Olympic final to Canada on Sidney Crosby's overtime goal, and the core of that team returns. Leaving high-scoring winger Bobby Ryan off the roster might be a mistake if the offense stalls on a wider international rink. The biggest question is whether the starting goaltender will be the Kings' Jonathan Quick or the Sabres' Ryan Miller. Quick lost more than a month of this season to a groin injury.
Little-known fact: The name of the secondary arena, Shayba, means "puck."