Who are the key players that Team USA will need to protect a late one-goal lead? Since every Olympic team will have an elite ability to score, the gold medal could very well end up being awarded to whichever team is most effective at neutralizing their opponents at the right time.
There's no question that the American team will be full of strong two-way players, but there are critical times when they'll need the best. Whatever opposing line nightmare you can concoct, whether it's Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Steven Stamkos for Canada, or Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk for Russia, at some point Team USA is going to need elite shutdown play.
Not only do these key defensive players need to have a proven history of facing top NHL opponents in critical defensive situations—including playing shorthanded—but they also need to have the offensive credentials to avoid putting their team at a disadvantage while working their regular shifts.
In the end we've used analytics to identify eight players that fit the bill. Each of these key shutdown forwards and defensemen need to be on Team USA's roster in order to improve their chances of neutralizing the world's most potent scorers.